Dashboard

Dashboard is a beautiful (and sort-of-free-depending ) iOS6 app with both iPad and iPhone versions available.

It offers a one-stop-view for your email, Facebook, weather, news, notes, to-do-lists and more, all on  customisable and relatively easy to navigate screens.

I started with Dashboard for  iPad. I’t slick right up (looking a lot like the Wunderlist) and exudes a professional feeling. I started customising the first screen and added a Calendar, Time and weather panel. Each panel can fit across any combination of each screen’s eight-module areas, so you could  feasibly have eight panels per screen. I chose to have four on the first (home) screen), two on the next screen and a single custom panelon the third. Panels can be easily resized and deleted – lots of fun!

An email seemed a logical inclusion, but an email pack is part of Dashboard’s in-app purchase.

Sigh…

Still, a couple of bucks isn’t a lot to ask considering the app is free (at the moment) and a quick trip to the app store netted me a Gmail panel, a Check List panel and a Notes panel. You can have up to eight screens and the settings section includes a half-decent Help file, a variety of background themes and the option to turn off the button sounds. The custom module allows you to add specific urls as panels a worthwhile feature in its own right.

I’m impressed by what I’ve seen so far and I guess more panels will become available if the demand warrants it. The only hiccups I had were 1)  having to read the Help file to work out how to add additional screens (drag a screen to the left until ‘Add Screen’ appears. Doh!) and 2) a lag with the

Give Dashboard a spin, it could be just the thing you need to collect you busy life in one place.

YouTube clip: Editing in Dashboard

On the App Store: Dashboard

Zite Update

Layout of the new Zite

Layout of the new Zite. Note the ‘headline news’ section with the scrolling news items, the new ‘explore icon and the updated Quicklist icon.

Zite, my favourite news aggregator, has just been updated.

As mentioned in my original post, Zite uses an algorithm to gradually tailor the app’s content to your interests. Over time this results in pages (and pages and pages!) of news and blog articles that I simply just have to read.

Awesome!

The new Zite has an updated icon (a rather fetching owl), a slicker interface and a larger database of categories (over 40,000). There’s also an interesting feature where Zite will connect to social sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Pocket and Google Reader and ‘suggest topics based on your social activity’. I hooked it up with Pocket and it returned just three new suggestions. The low number is probably because most of my Pocket clippings come from Zite in the first place!

Thumbs up or down?

Mostly up. The UI design is smart, minimalistic and easy to navigate. The number of article stubs per page is nicely varied, from 3-5 and a ‘suggested by Zite’ box, with several sliding stories, appears every few pages.

The thumbs up / down icons are now present on the page without having to activate a menu, and this makes saving to other services (such as Pocket, Evernote etc) quicker. You can also ‘thumbs up’ an article by pushing the article stub up to reveal a green thumb. Releasing it means you’ll ‘see more articles like this’. You can also navigate the various articles in a category without returning to its overview page using the ‘next’ button at the bottom of the page.

Some down. You can’t navigate between articles by the iPad tradition of swiping, which is easily forgotten as you move from app to app. Zite won’t allow you to ahve a category that it doesn’t define With 40,000 to choose from this shouldn’t be an issue, but I’d love to be able to view ‘tech theatre’ or ‘stage design’ as categories. Lastly, any pages you navigate to from a Zite page can only be viewed. You can’t send them to a service, open them in Safari or otherwise interact with them. Shame.

But Zite is (still) awesome and of course, it’s still free. Brilliant!

 

 

 

 

 

Tango iPad / iPhone app

Tango app iconTango? Yes, as in ‘to takes two to’.

Two Tangos then? Yes, one sits on your iPad, one sits on the iPhone (or iPod).

And when you have two Tangos? One acts as a remote control for the other.

Once installed you have complete access to you iTunes library: playlists, songs, albums, videos, podcasts. The obvious use is remotely controlling your iPad (loaded with music and plugged into a dock or sound system) with your iPhone, though Tango does allow you to set them up with the remote working the opposite way.

At school? I have my iPad plugged into the classroom projector. But this isn’t convenient for stopping starting music and videos. Here’s where Tango comes in. Same setup, but now I have a remote that works wherever there’s a wireless network. (There’s a bluetooth option but this doesn’t work with my 3GS phone.

In practice it’s easy as. The two apps find each other quickly (5-10 seconds) and there’s no apparent lag in operation. You can add a password, disable auto-lock and sync changes to the library.

The remote for the videos is certainly useful, especially when viewing music clips, as pausing from a remote is much more convenient.

Tango costs $5.49, but it’s a solid, well thought out and practical app that should be on your shopping list.

iPhone Tango screenshot

 

iPad Tango Screenshot

 

Choice

 

Choice screenshot

Choice screenshot

Choice was one of the first apps I ever downloaded for my iPhone and for a free app, it’s certainly been one of the most useful.

Operation is simple; up to five people place a finger each on the screen. Grey dots form under their fingertips. the dots flash on and off then just one ends up red. A winner has been decided on!

I use this app at least once every day with classes. Students never argue with the decision and it’s quick and painless. A few believe they can ‘game’ the result by being the first / last to put their fingers down. No statistical proof of this helping to win has been established however.

The app did disappear from the App Store for a while but developer Christian Stropp brought it back and produced an updated (thank you!) version for the iPad that takes up to eleven fingers.

It’s almost as good as rock / paper / scissors!

I use it to:

  • Select leaders for Drama / Music groups
  • Choose classroom monitors
  • Arbitrate on contentious classroom issues
  • Pick teams
  • Bring about world peace

Dramatic Music App (Ta Da!)

Dramatic Music App is a bright, colourful and easy-to-use soundboard, just perfect for the Drama classroom and a steal (cue ‘suspense’) at just $0.99

It features four main screens with speech-bubble shaped buttons that activate a comprehensive range of usefully dramatic music. The music is high quality (and sounds even better through a decent set of speakers) and both teachers and students will find it easy to access. Operation is a breeze; tap once to start (the button changes colour) and tap again to end. Continue reading