iOS 6 has finally arrived and all the tech press will be ranting and raving about Siri improvements, Passbook, Apple’s new maps and whatever Android has that Apple hasn’t done yet. I’m more interested in improvements that have gone largely unnoticed that mean a better experience in a school environment, especially one like mine where we are using iPads in a shared device situation.
This is what I like so far.
Browser photo uploads.
Finally, we can upload photos and videos from the camera roll on the iPad onto websites. This will make publishing blogs and websites a reality on the iPad. Previously this has been a real drawback at school. Students would create some great work in iMovie, Comic Life, SonicPics etc. or take/download some photos then have to go through the time consuming process of transferring them to a a desktop or laptop computer before uploading their creations to their blog or website. now, through an updated Safari, they can add their work straight from the photo library as they would on a computer. Sadly, you can only upload photos and videos. You still can’t upload documents, but it is a big improvement in the workflow.
iWork apps and transferring elsewhere
For as long as I have used an iPad or iPhone, I’ve been able to transfer or save most document based work created on my iOS devices to Dropbox, Evernote, PDF apps or even the school network through the Open in…. Function of iOS. Bizarrely, and damned annoyingly, the one exception to this rule was Apple’s own iWork apps – Pages, Numbers and Keynote. Apple’s stubbornness in making iTunes Sharing, iCloud or iWork.com ( along with email and WebDAV) the only options made working in a PC centric environment difficult with its otherwise superior apps ( compared to other Office compatible apps). Well, Alleluia, Praise The Lord, Cupertino’s engineers have finally added Open in Another App as an option. Combined with DropBox, Google Drive, Box, or Filebrowser ( for school network connections) we can now easily save our Pages/Numbers/Keynote Documents to other apps or locations so that we don’t have to rely on using the same shared iPad all the time. It also means we have backups elsewhere in case other users accidentally delete the file on the iPad. Would be nice if they could next add the same feature to GarageBand and iMovie so we can back those files up as well.
Improved Open in…. Functionality
While I loved using the open in function to transfer or save my files to other apps or locations, I was still sometimes frustrated when I could select my preferred app or network. Previously, the list of options was limited to 10 apps and sometimes the random order of the function meant even though I wanted to save to Dropbox, the list would have other compatible apps for a PDF or document listed in the ten and Dropbox would be inaccessible. Apple has finally fixed this ridiculous limitation by allowing for unlimited options in the open in menu. They have changed the look of the selection box and allowed for a swipe action to take you to a second panel of options. Now I can be confident of always being able to select my preferred choice for transferring from one app or location to another.
Updating without passwords
As the tech admin in charge of keeping the iPads up to date ( I was the holder of the school account password) it was very time consuming and frustrating to be solely responsible for updating apps on the school iPads and iPods. I know I could run updates by syncing the iPads To iTunes on the computer but that just seemed unnecessary and a waste of time ( wireless syncing seem to be a problem on our network – possibly a proxy problem). Now that updating apps no longer need passwords, I can rely on the other teachers to do the updates themselves.
Improved ( but still not completely fixed ) proxy bypassing or access.
This is not a problem for everyone but it certainly has been for us. Early iOS iterations would not allow any apps requiring Internet connection ( most notably Dropbox and Evernote ) to function over a proxy server. More recent updates have allowed downloading from Dropbox to access files but not uploading. Same with Evernote – syncing didn’t work. Dragon Dictation wouldn’t work either because it needed to connect to a server. With iOS 6, I can finally sync Evernote at school, which is good news for teachers would have been using Evernote for assessment records but being annoyed by the fail to sync messages at school. Unfortunately uploading to Dropbox is still not working. I haven’t tested Dragon Dictation today – will update with answer tomorrow. We switch to a new proxy system in the next couple of weeks which is supposed to fix the issue but no guarantees. In the meantime, at least Evernote is working and maybe an updated Dropbox app might fix the problem by taking advantage of iOS 6s new, supposed global proxy connection.
read this article that explains tbe benefits of Guided Access for special needs students like those with autism and also to prevent cheating.
They’re the main improvements I’ve noticed so far – it’s only been a day. It’s good to see a native Clock app that can be used as a timer, stopwatch, alarm and world clock – all useful tools in a school. Saves spending 99 cents an iPad for a fully functional alternative. You can also import songs from itunes straight into Garageband and then into iMovie – good for adding soundtracks to videos.
One drawback with iOS 6 on iPads is the (probably temporary) disappearance of a native YouTube app – iPhone/iPad app is available from App Store and Google but not for iPad yet. 3D maps are a nice improvement in the new Map apps for exploring different cities in class, too.
Have I missed anything else useful for school situations? Drop a comment if you have noticed something else. I’ll continue looking in the meantime.