Sphero 2.0 Review

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been playing with a very clever robotic ball which is controlled and programmed via the iPad. More info about Sphero can be found here.

Sphero Box Contents

 

First Impressions
When I first unpacked the Sphero I was very surprised at how solid it felt and its size. To give it some perspective it’s about the size of a tennis ball. This gave me confidence in Sphero in that it would be able to bang into things without getting damaged. I was also pleased to find two ramps and a clever wireless charging unit in the box.

 

Sphero Charger and Ball

Charging
The Sphero is supplied with a clever wireless charging base which has a universal plug on the end with all the adapters for different countries. To charge you just place the Sphero heavy end down into the charging base. The Sphero then started flashing and so did the base. The base continued to flash until it showed a solid light approx 3 hours later when the Sphero had been fully charged.

Apps
While the Sphero was charging I took the opportunity to check out the apps available. I was pleasantly surprised at how many free apps where available. In total I counted over 25 apps on both iTunes and Google Play Store. All of the apps need the main Sphero app to work so I downloaded that into my iPad first along with some of the others but not all. From what I can see the apps give some form of interaction for everyone with the Sphero and I imagine this will only be added to over time.

Connectivity
Now I had a charged Sphero and the main Sphero app installed I was ready to get started. The Sphero connects to devices via Bluetooth and found this to be a very simple process. The Sphero flashes through a sequence of three colours when in pairing mode and thing this is a very clever way to pair the devices.

Sphero App Drive Screenshot

First Play
The first time I loaded the app it walked me through using the different controls and I found it very simple to get the Sphero moving. I was able to control the Sphero very easily and got it moving around the room with easy. I then investigated the other options in the app including being able to change the colour and speed of the Sphero. Going further I found that as I used the app further I gained points and was able to trade these for some built in tricks like getting the Sphero to dance, sneeze, jump and many other things.

Childs Play
To give the Sphero the ultimate test I decided to let my children (aged 4 and 7) have a play with it. They both found it very easy to move around and loved being able to make it change colour. My 4 year old was soon driving it around the house under tables and through doors. My 7 year old was more interested in getting it to jump over the ramps and make it dance. They both really enjoyed it and every day since I’ve a “Daddy can we play with the ball on your iPad”

Sphero Macrolab App

Education
As well as using the Sphero at home I took it to one of my code clubs and used it with the MacroLab app. This app allows you to program the Sphero by using a preset list of options. These options can also be altered using sliders to make the Sphero move, change colour etc. The MacroLab app can also be used when not connected to the Sphero. I found this to be very useful as the groups could create their programs and code for the Sphero on separate iPads. We then connected up the Sphero and tested as and when required. The only thing to remember here was to ensure Bluetooth was turned off on all devices apart from the one giving the Sphero code. I gave the club a challenge to code the Sphero to navigate around a small course and use the ramps to jump into a box. I kept it simple as it was the first time everyone had used a Spbero. The children loved it and were fully engaged in creating the code. They started adding in extra challenges like changing the colour and found the MacroLab app very easy to use. Most groups completed the challenge in the hour long club. They all now want one for Christmas.

Conclusion
To conclude I feel the Sphero is a fantastic accessory for the iPad or tablet and will bring many hours of joy to all age ranges whether at home or in an educational setting.
What do you think of the Sphero? Do you want one?

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The Flitlits iPad Apps Review

This week I have had the privilege of reviewing 3 new and exciting apps for the iPad titled the Flitlits.

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These are more than just book apps. The series includes main adventures that are supported by comprehensive educational content that aids young readers to improve their literacy skills. They were researched and created by curriculum content creator, Eiry Rees Thomas over a period of 3+ years with the support of the Welsh Government and in collaboration with educational enthusiasts. The illustrations are by award winning illustrator James Field and the apps have been developed by Chaos Trend Ltd.

App 1 titled The Funny Fair and it tells the story of a Fair coming to Fussbut, Seldom See. It follows Jester Bit and his friends on their adventures through the fair ground.

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App 2 titled A Ferry To Airy follows Jester Bit on an unexpected journey through the No Zone Space to the Island of Airy. At the Island of Airy he finds himself face to face with some Nutty Folk. Will Jester Bit’s uncle Doctor It take time out from dreaming up mistakes to help him save the day?

App 3 titled A Shine Show Shock sees Jester Bit trying to win the Star of Stars at the Shine Show. However a mixture of friendships and rivalries leads to an unexpected ending.

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The series of apps take you on a journey of language and discovery through the land of Fussbut, Seldom See. They are designed as a cross curricular resource and an educational guide is provided both in the apps and on the Flitlits website. This makes them perfect for use in the classroom or at home and encourage creativity, the study of language, script writing, roll play and much more.

Each app offers a choice of Welsh, English and US English versions of text and narration. The apps have been accredited by Mums With Apps meaning they have been checked for privacy and protections for children. The apps are priced at £2.99 each which makes them less than your standard book!

For a more in depth look please see my video review below.

To conclude I’d fully recommend these apps for the following reasons:-
– Appealing to both boys and girls.
– Cross curricular content aids the thematic approach to learning.
– The Flitlits offer valuable curriculum content.

Thanks for reading and your likes, comments and shares are much appreciated.

If you have an app you would like reviewing please get in contact and I’ll see what I can do.

IPEVO Whiteboard App for iPad

IPEVO Whiteboard App Review

A video review of IPEVO Whiteboard App for iPad. This app has been designed to mainly work with their range of document cameras, but to be honest it works perfectly well without. The idea of the app is to allow you to annotate over a live image, which in a classroom takes the idea of a visualiser to the next level. To find out more watch my quick video review below.

Transferring Photos and Videos from Computer to iPad, iPad to iPad, iPad to Computer using SimplTransfer. How To?

Today a teacher asked how she could get a video file from her computer to the class iPads. You may think just use YouTube but due to the age of the children the school filters YouTube for her class.
So here we go.

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1. First you’ll need a free app called SimplTransfer. You can upgrade this via in app purchase to get more features or to support the developer.

2. Now you need to load the app. On first load it will ask you to allow access to photos and videos. Accept this otherwise the app won’t work. You should now be presented with a screen like this.

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3. If you want to transfer between computer and ipad please read on otherwise goto step 6 for using it between iPad and iPad or iPhone. Leave the app open and running. On the computer you need to open you web browser.

4. In the address bar type the web site address given to you on the iPad screen. It will be something like http://000.000.000.000 (the 0s will be numbers relating to your device . Tell the browser to go.

5a. Now you will be browsing your photos and videos from the iPad on your computer screen. To upload a video or photo to the iPad press the upload button on the top left. Browse to your photo/video and open it. It will now be uploaded to your iPad and saved in the camera roll. If you upgrade the app you can upload to any album or create a new album to upload to on the iPad by selecting them from the dropdown menu to the right of the upload button.
5b. To download click into the photos and find the one you want. You can select more than one by clicking the selection box below a photo or you can select all by pressing the select all button in the top left corner. Once you have selected the photos/videos click the download button at the top left.

6. That’s it for transferring between computer and iPad. If you want to transfer between iPad and iPad or iPhone then read on. First you will need the app open and running on each device. Now at the bottom select device.

7. You will get a new screen on the iPad allowing you to select a device from a list. Press the device you want to transfer to.

8. Now you will need to select an album where the photo/video is stored. In the free version you can only send the top 50 items from an album so if your photo is number 51 or above you will need to create a new album in the photo app and add your video/photo to it. Alternatively you can purchase the upgrade.

9. After touching an album you will see all the photos and videos in the album. Touch each photo/video you wish to transfer.

10. Now press send at the bottom left and all the photos/videos you have selected will be transferred to the other device.

11. Job done, good luck transferring photos and videos between devices.

If you like this how to please follow me to keep updated with other how to’s and technology news.

Windows 8 Metro App Troubleshooter

Over the last few days I’ve had a problem with one or two of Apps not launching correctly. I tried lots of different ways to try and fix the problems but without any success. I was about at the point of a system refresh when I came across a Microsoft Windows 8 App Troubleshooter by accident.

You can download the troubleshooter from the Microsoft website by clicking here.

After downloading the troubleshooter run it and follow the instructions. It will check your system and make some changes to your settings/files. Once the troubleshooter has finished restart your machine and the apps should work again.

Success

Apple Configurator – What is it?

Over the last week I’ve been getting to grips with Apple Configurator and thought I’d report my findings. First this app is free and its only available on a mac and Apple have no plans to bring a version to Windows. The app is designed to help you setup iOS devices quickly and easily(ish).

The app has 3 sections to it, the first is prepare mode. This mode allows you to prepare a device for use and offers several options to it. One of the main options is supervise. Supervise locks the iOS device to that mac, thus preventing it from being used with iTunes on any other system. Another cool option is the ability to upgrade the iOS. You can also restore a backup to the device and finally you can assign profiles. Profiles have been around for a while on iOS devices but with the extra option of supervise and the latest ios6 you can now do some really cool things. I actually only used the profiles to send across our wifi settings and to connect the device to a Mobile Device Management system we are using. A final thing you can do is install apps either free or paid. So in a nutshell prepare mode allows you to setup your iOS devices and lock them down and this maybe all you need from the app.

The second section is Supervise this is only used if you set the iOS device to be supervised in prepare mode. It basically allows you to manage supervised devices when they are plugged in. You can alter most things you setup in prepare mode. Right clicking also allows you to backup a device and unsupervise a device. It’s worth noting when a device is unsupervised it is wiped and restored back to factory settings. However any paid apps you have used via apple Configurator will be allowed to be reinstalled onto another device.

The last mode is Assign. This allows you to assign a supervised device to a user. Users can be imported from a directory or simply added manually. Users can also be grouped allowing classes to be assigned devices easily. Assign allows you to send documents to a device and take documents off. I’ve also been told that it takes a snapshot of the device when you check it back in and when you check a device out again it restores that snapshot to it. This should allow multiple users to one device very easily and works well with a sync and charge storage cart.

A few further things worth noting you can set the image of the lock screen on devices and add a users name or picture to it using the preferences in Configurator. However this only works in supervised mode. Apple Configurator can also manage upto 30 devices at once making configuration changes very fast.

More information can be found here.

Apple Volume Purchasing Program

This week I signed our school up to Apple’s volume purchasing program (vpp). If you’ve not herd about this program then you really need to investigate it. Basically it allows education and business institutions to purchase apps from the App Store in bulk at discounted prices. More info can be found here.
I found the process to be very easy and straight forward but there are a few things you need to think about beforehand. The vpp requires you to sign up with a unique Apple ID which is only used for the the manager of the vpp. Second you will need another unique Apple ID for the purchasing of apps from the vpp. I decided to setup two separate email accounts and have the emails forwarded by our email server rules directly to me. This saved me having to login and out of different email accounts when setting the IDs up and when making purchases. Finally if you are VAT registered and don’t pay VAT on purchases (this applies to all schools) then when you sign up make sure you give them the school VAT number. I actually struggled with this bit as my office manager had failed to tell me about the 0 at the beginning of the number as soon as I added this Apple accepted it.
After signing up you then have to wait a few days for Apple to verify your details and account. Eventually approx 3-4 days later you will receive an email from Apple confirming you are signed up to the vpp. Next as the vpp manager you then have to assign an account for purchasing which is where the second email address comes in. This is the account you’ll use from now on to make purchases. It’s worth noting that you can actually have several purchasing accounts for different departments etc but I’ve decided to just have one so I can keep track of all App purchases.
With the accounts setup you can then login into the volume iTunes Store and browse through apps. I decided to buy Pages as the first App for the school, this App is normally £6.99 however in the vpp if you buy more than 20 copies of the App it only costs £3.49! That’s half the price. However when I checked out (you’ll need to add a credit card to the account at this stage) the actual price £3.03 per copy due to the VAT being removed.
So this program really rewards schools and business for purchasing in bulk and fully recommend you investigate it further and sign up. Even if you only have 10 iPads in the school it still works out cheaper and you’ll have 10 spare copies for when you buy more iPads.