Discover a more efficent way to make sense of Wikipedia articles
Ah, Wikipedia, our torrid little knowledge love affair. Sure, it's not always the most accurate, but it's certainly the most convenient. We're not going to pretend like we're not the type to spend an evening hopping from article to article, reading as much as we can -- but what if there was an easier option, something that made sense of the complex information presented to you by Wikipedia? Now, there is, with Learn Discovery.
The downward spiral of the music business, a 5K iMac giveaway, and more
Episode 21 of The MacNN Podcast is now available! Join us for a very speedy hour as we talk about a great new contest where you can win a 5K Retina 27-inch iMac, the licensing kerfuffle with Apple Music that features a happy ending, more troubles for MacKeeper, the plaudits and perils of e-publishing, the trauma of having to send in a Mac for repair, and our picks for App(s) of the Week! Show notes after the jump.
An interactive book with a somewhat more modern take on a classic fairy tale
Green Riding Hood by Bobaka is an interactive story book that takes inspiration from the classic fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood, and gives is a more modern sensibility. The Wolf is still pretty horrible, and would very much like to eat the other characters, but (spoiler) nobody gets eaten, or has their belly filled with hot rocks. Plus, there are delicious recipes.
Second year of recognition brings spotlight on LGBT-themed media
A day after New York City's Stonewall Inn received official landmark status, Apple debuted a curated collection of apps and media in its iOS App Store celebrating the advances the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community has made in recent years, as well as commemorating the 1969 riots at Stonewall that kicked off the modern pride movement. The company has a long history of publicly recognizing gay employees, stretching back to 1986.
Great resource adds collaboration and marking
You know that MacNN likes to go the extra mile and stress-test, even pummel every application that gets a Hands On review. It's not enough to tell us a list of features, we want to see that those features do what they say they will. It's partly diligence, partly that we've been fooled by Windows software before. Apple today updated its iTunes U educational service and iOS to version 3.0, and made some notable changes -- and this obviously requires that we join a university that uses the software so that we can fully partake of the semester-long new features.
Apple now labelling ground-truth vans, promoting Apple Maps
Having initially triggered a way of often-silly speculation about driverless, solar-powered cars when its vans first appeared, Apple is now clearly labelling its ground-truth GPS data collection vans as being for use with Apple Maps, and promoting the service with a sign seen on vans now patrolling Seattle. The company recently confirmed that the vans were collecting real-world location data that will be "used to improve Apple Maps."
Photography resources, software at deeply-discounted price for charity
Last week, Foto Promos announced its largest-ever bundle of resources, software, training, printing, memberships and other pro-photographer education in a special offer available through MacNN and Electronista called The Big Deal that includes over $4,200 worth of downloadable products for just $99. The bundle, which runs through Thursday, has raised over $45,000 for charity, and features contributions from Lindsay Adler, Jared Platt, Dave Cross, KelbyOne, Lee Varis, Gavin Gough, Tony Sweet, Rick Sammon, Phlearn, Photoshop Cafe, Mylio, Eyefi, Viewbug, AthenTech, and B&H Photo and Video, among others.
Nickelodeon brings kid's shows to iOS with kid-friendly app
More and more people are giving up TV these days in favor of online streaming, but a lot of these services often leave kids out of the equation. Sure, Netflix and Amazon Prime have a decent selection of kids shows, but shouldn't there be a better option out there? Well, the folks over at Nickelodeon came to that conclusion, too, and offered up Noggin, an app designed especially for preschoolers.
Announces new Chinese educational programs to be offered in schools
In a new interview given to the Chinese-language version of Businessweek, Apple CEO Tim Cook admits that the company takes Chinese consumer tastes into account in its product designs, along with other factors. Cook specifically pointed to the gold color option -- first introduced with 2013's iPhone 5s and now expanded to the iPad and new 12-inch Retina MacBook line -- as reflecting in part "the popularity of that color among Chinese users."
Over $4,200 in downloadable plug-ins, tutorials, and more for $99
Earlier this week, Foto Promos announced its largest-ever bundle of resources, software, training, printing, memberships and other pro-photographer education in a special offer available through MacNN and Electronista called The Big Deal that includes over $4,200 worth of downloadable products for just $99. The bundle, which runs through Thursday, has raised over $31,000 for charity, and features contributions from Lindsay Adler, Jared Platt, Dave Cross, KelbyOne, Lee Varis, Gavin Gough, Tony Sweet, Rick Sammon, Phlearn, Photoshop Cafe, Mylio, Eyefi, Viewbug, AthenTech, and B&H Photo and Video, among others.
Software, training, discounts, plug-ins, e-books, more offered for photographers
Foto Promos is currently running its largest-ever bundle of resources, software, training, printing, memberships and other pro-photographer education in a special offer available through MacNN and Electronista called The Big Deal that includes over $4,000 worth of downloadable products for just $99. Contributors to the bundle include Lindsay Adler, Jared Platt, Dave Cross, KelbyOne, Lee Varis, Gavin Gough, Tony Sweet, Rick Sammon, Phlearn, Photoshop Cafe, Mylio, Eyefi, Viewbug, AthenTech, and B&H Photo and Video among others.
Finally, some actual writing, and thoughts on software to use
Four weeks into the summer project, halfway through to having an actual paperback and e-book, only now do we get to do some writing. Maybe in the olden days, you could just get out your quill pen on day one and craft a masterpiece, but now that you're taking on the production of the book, you have a lot of other concerns.
A gaming system for iPads that melds virtual and physical environments.
We really enjoy it when a developer takes advantage of the fantastic technology we have today while still grounding an experience in our own physical space. Osmo does just that and does it nicely. The Osmo system uses an angled mirror clipped over the front-facing FaceTime camera alongside a stand, and coupled with free iPad apps to make the area directly in front of the iPad an active virtual and real-world play space. The combo is a very simple way of going about it, but the results can be magical.
Teach your little ones the joy of upcycling with this cute kids app
Everything old is new again. Reduce, reuse, recyle. Waste not, want not. These are all principles that we've had drilled into us since we were young. You can teach your own kids the importance of seeing the value in everything by letting them play Duckie Deck's Trash Toys, a game about creating new things from old parts.
An app to build a virtual toy and a virtual sandbox in which to play with it
The Robot Factory by Tinybop is an open-ended activity app where the user builds a robot, and then sets it loose upon a wooded garden. It's the first in TinyBop's new line of virtual toys, and much like their educational apps, such as Simple Machines, there's not much in the way of points or win conditions. Although there's certainly plenty to do.
A guided tour through programming concepts for kids
Cato's Hike: A Programming and Logic Odyssey by Hesham Wahba is an iOS app for helping kids, and adults if they're so inclined, to learn about programming. The app utilizes an object-oriented language of "cards" and customizable maps to demonstrate the various principles. The app is very cute, and we liked the idea of the cards format for the programs. We think Cato's Hike is a good tool for a parent or teacher to guide a would-be programmer to a better understanding of how it's done.
The exciting part – planning the book
Don't look at us like that. Planning is exciting -- or at least, it is essential. If you're a writer, then the thing you want to do is write; and if you're a publisher, then the thing you want is for that writer to have written, please, so that you can get on with your work. Our job in this Summer Project is to create a real book -- paperback and ebook -- and do so in front of you with only one massive cheat. As explained in last week's introduction, the cheat is that this isn't just playing around with the tools, and this book wasn't conjured up for the series.
Fun art app aims to make artists out of elementary kids
We've been covering a fair amount of artist-centric apps lately, most of which are designed for professional artists, hobbyists, or at the very least, adults. We're about to change that, however, by showcasing an app that is designed for elementary-age artists everywhere, called Drawing with Carl.
Educational math game helps keep kids interested in arithmetic
Getting kids to practice math skills isn't always easy. Flash cards are boring, worksheets are torture, and forget about trying to get your average nine-year-old to a tutor without at least four temper tantrums and a significant amount of bribery. So how do you get your kids to brush up on their math skills? We suggest Numbees and the World of Math, a well-rounded, fun app for helping improve your child's math skills.
Era of iPods, streaming music do not eliminate CDs entirely just yet
Today's Pointers column is inspired by a lamentation from a veteran Mac user of our acquaintance who expressed some regret over the upgrade to iTunes 12 (he had jumped several versions in finally doing the upgrade). Among the other changes the recent version had introduced, he was convinced that Apple had removed the ability to burn music CDs, which he still found useful. In case others are laboring under this misconception, this column will show you that yes, CD music burning is still doable in iTunes 12.1 in 2015.
A hands-on demonstration of mechanical principles for kids
Simple Machines by Tinybop is less like a game, and more like a collection of scientific toys. The mechanical demonstrations are certainly like games, and some of them have goals the user can shoot for, certainly. There are no points, and very little in the way of "win" conditions, however. What Simple Machines does have is a lot of charm, whimsy, and science!
Law unclear on whether new device is Bluetooth accessory or hand-held device
A man in Quebec, Canada has been ticketed with a potential fine of $120 for using his Apple Watch to manually change songs remotely on his nearby iPhone, sparking a debate about whether the Watch can be as distracting as the smartphone it ostensibly replaces in such situations, and opening a discussion about the nature of "no handheld devices while driving" laws which are widespread throughout North America. Defendant Jeffrey Macesin, who admits the case will clarify the existing law, is contesting the citation.
The real business of writing and publishing books on Macs
Self-publishing -- once known as the "vanity press" -- has been around for decades. If you had a burning desire to be a published author, but mysteriously the conventional literary "mafia" couldn't see the value in your heartbreaking work of staggering genius, you could pay to have books created for you in the hopes that this would lead to your "discovery." It rarely worked out that way (until 50 Shades of Gray took that path). With the advent of desktop publishing in the late 1980s and the emergence of e-books into the mainstream more recently, authors can now take much more control over their literary fate. In this new Summer Project, MacNN is going to show you what we mean, by putting out a book ourselves over the next eight weeks. Read on to find out more.
Gain extra utility with lesser-known functionality in the Dock
The Dock is one of the many features of OS X that is taken for granted -- and often underutilized. Sure, a fair number of users eventually figure out that the can take things off the dock -- usually by accident, resulting in some considerable alarm -- but it has come to our attention that shockingly few users really leverage the Dock as Apple intended. In this installment of Pointers, we'll go over some of the "hidden" powers of the Dock that turn it into a real productivity tool.
Another papercraft toy creation tool from Pixle
Foldify Zoo -- Create, Print and Fold Paper Animals! and Foldify Dinosaurs are two more papercraft toy creation apps from Pixle, makers of Foldify and Storest, which we have looked at previously. Both Zoo and Dinosaurs include all the tools from Foldify, but have more limited papercraft patterns to choose from. What the user gets in exchange is an educational rundown of the creature in question, and where in the world it's from.
New Ricoh projectors aimed at business, educational customers
Ricoh has announced a collection of new projectors aimed at business and education markets, with some upgrading a number of existing project models. The group of seven projecting devices include Desk Edge, Short Throw and standard models, designed to be capable of displaying an image on a screen or surface at a variety of distances, and incorporate advanced functions including Wi-Fi and Miracast functionality.
Cook discusses meeting famous and influential men throughout his life
This past weekend, Apple CEO Tim Cook gave the commencement speech to The George Washington University graduating class of 2015. In it, he discussed his first trip to Washington, DC at the age of 16 in 1977, as well as the 1998 meeting with Steve Jobs that convinced him to join Apple, as part of Jobs' efforts to save the then-floundering company. Cook also expressed his thoughts on the importance of human rights, and the ability of individuals to affect positive change, even in the workplace.
Creative kids app encourages kids to explore designing clothes!
Toca Boca is a developer we feature regularly here, and it's not hard to see why. Their apps are bright, friendly, easy to use, and consistently ranked among the top apps for young kids. Today we checked out Toca Tailor, a sandbox-style game with a similar feel to games like Toca Hair Salon and Toca Mini.
Researchers work with Apple on DNA testing app for evaluating genetic traits
A leading research and academic technology review publication has revealed that Apple is working with researchers on building DNA-testing apps using ResearchKit, the company's API for medical research software. The apps would require volunteers to submit DNA samples, helping scientists at institutions such as UC San Francisco examine the causes of premature birth by studying genetic factors, while another study will look at disease-connected genes gathered through the study.
App used for disabled to communicate through the app with caretakers, others
Assistive technology software developer AssitiveWare today announced Proloquo2Go 4.0, a major new release of its symbol-supported Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) app that provides a voice to over 125,000 children, teens and adults who cannot speak. Proloquo2Go 4.0 is designed to enhance language development and communication for AAC users. It also aims to better support parents, teachers and therapists to implement AAC best practices.
Submitting to iTunes is first step in drumming up an audience
Over the past three weeks, plus an introductory piece about general voice recording on the Mac, we have used the Wednesday Pointers column to spotlight the process of creating a podcast, as it is an excellent medium for communication, education, or entertainment. The process can be fairly simple, or labor-intensive, depending on what you want the finished product to be like. This time out, we look at listing your creation to the biggest podcast directory, by far, on Earth: iTunes.
Short videos illustrate functionality and look in actual-size screen demos
After releasing the videos in drips, Apple now has completed its set of 10 "guided tour" videos covering the main functions of the Apple Watch. The last three, dealing with Apple Pay, the Activity tracker, and the Workout app were posted on Wednesday, joining videos covering the core user interface of the device and specific functions ranging from phone calls, to customizing the watch face, to sending "digital touch" messages.
Kids love playing store, and now they can create a real store with paper
Storest by Pixle has to be, hands down, one of the cutest apps we've seen so far this year. The app has two modes: the first is a virtual store where a kid can play at shopping, checking out, paying and getting change, on the tablet itself. The other mode provides materials to be printed and cut out, so a real store-themed play space can be set up in the physical realm, with the app used as the cash register. Storest isn't so much a game as an educational tool or prop to facilitate play, and we are utterly charmed by it.
Stores to offer workshop on Apple Watch starting April 24, despite shortages
Although the unexpected sellout of the Apple Watch will put a crimp of unavailability in the works, Apple is going ahead with new "Apple Watch Basics" workshops at some of its retail stores beginning April 24. The lucky relative few who will receive their pre-orders on or near launch day, along with those who are still waiting, are likely to be the chief participants in the workshops, which will run through May 8 in the US only. The classes will run approximately 60 minutes in order to cover all of the many key features of the new device.
Company expands video tutorials on Apple Watch features in run-up to launch day
Yesterday, Apple posted four new videos to its site and YouTube channel showcasing additional tent-pole features of the Apple Watch, including handling phone calls, interacting with Siri, music playback, and Maps usage. Last week the company had posted a general overview tutorial video, along with shorter ones focusing on Digital Touch, messaging, and customizing the watch face. The videos reveal minor details of the various operations previously not publicized.
Price district paid per iPad with educational materials still less than retail
In the wake of its collapsed iPad program, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is seeking millions of dollars in refunds from Apple. The district's board of education has authorized state and city attorneys to investigate litigation to claim money from Apple and Pearson after the district itself broke the contract. Also sent letters by the LAUSD are Lenovo and a computer distributor, both also including Pearson materials.
Introductory, Digital Touch, Messages, Faces videos up now, more coming soon
On Friday, Apple added to the Apple Watch section of its website with a Guided Tours page that features short videos showing off some of the features of the new device, which will start appearing stores and become available for pre-order on April 10, followed by a full retail debut on April 24. A general introductory video is followed by tutorials on Faces, Digital Touch, and Messages.
Apple spotlights World Autism Awareness Day with spotlight on helpful apps
Apple has showcased 16 apps specifically designed for autistic persons in the Education section of the iOS App Store. Two apps in particular, Proloquo2Go and Proloquo4Text, are being offered at an unusual sale price of $110 and $120 respectively, half off their normal cost due to the promotion. MacNN reviewed Proloquo2Go a little over a year ago, finding it be the best in class. Other apps spotlighted help users with math, clothing choices, environment comfort, and more.
Give your elementary-school engineer a fun project to work on!
It's in a child's nature to be interested about the world around them, and as parents and teachers, there's a certain obligation you have to encourage that. Starting from age two, kids just seem to become more and more inquisitive, and while the "why?" phase is never fun, watching a child develop a genuine interest in the way the world works is one of the best things a parent gets to witness. Finding games that can help foster those interests isn't always easy, but we think that Crazy Gears is a good place to start.
Learn about the history of the space race, or create your own history
Buzz Aldrin's Space Program Manager by Slitherine depicts the Cold War space race from the perspective of those on one of the front lines. While populated with soldiers and military, this time, we're talking about NASA and the Soviet Space Agency. This game isn't about artillery barrages or submarines lurking about, but one of managing departments, selecting and training personnel, and balancing budgets.
Powerful academic search and citation manager
Bookends is a professional research tool for finding information online, and then presenting it to you in a useful way. That means making it easy to find what you want, keep what you want, and then refer to it all correctly in your own writing. This application, designed for academics and students, has a bewildering, overwhelming rage of options, yet also a very clear and simple core search: enter what you're looking for -- from a vague overall topic to a specific page number in a book -- and choose from dozens of places to search.
Learn a second language easily with this smartly-designed app
Have you ever been suckered in to some sort of "learn language quickly" scheme? Audio tapes that you listen to in your sleep, expensive software that requires hours of use in a single setting, classes that require a large amount of physical effort? Don't worry, most bilingual-curious folk have. We caught ourselves using a demo of a big-name software -- and while it worked, it would have cost hundreds of dollars and still required 45-minute sessions multiple times a week. Enter Duolingo, a slick little app that aims to help you make quick work of picking up a second (or third, or fourth...) language -- for free.
Free computer hardware heading to students this fall in BBC coding effort
The BBC is continuing in its attempts to promote digital literacy in the United Kingdom, by providing approximately 1 million devices to children. The broadcaster will be providing the Micro Bit, a compact electronic board inspired by the BBC Micro from the 1980s, to students in secondary schools this fall, which it hopes will encourage a new generation of coders to create software.
Publicity from feature spot in 'Spring Forward' event demonstrates Apple influence
On Monday, Apple devoted a portion of its "Spring Forward" event to talking about a previously-unannounced initiative called ResearchKit that will help medical researchers put together apps that improve the voluntary data collection process so vital to the field. Five example applications were also released that day, including one that sought participants in a Stanford University cardiovascular study. Today, some 10,000 new applicants have volunteered through the app.
Spark your kids interest in science with this silly science lab!
Getting a kid interested in science isn't as easy as it used to be -- there aren't as many science-centric shows geared toward kids. No Bill Nyes, no Mister Wizards, and most edutainment has gone the way of the humanities. Sure, Sid the Science Kid is doing the best he can, but we think science needs a few more hard-hitters -- and while we certainly believe there's value in kids learning a second (or third, or fourth) language, and we would never discredit the importance of learning how to work well with others, we sometimes long for the day when kids were prodded and pushed toward baking soda volcanoes, and Alka-Seltzer rockets. Thankfully, Toca Boca has created Toca Lab, a delightfully scientific app designed for pint-sized chemists everywhere.
AppleCare now handling support for Beats Music, Apple Pay for Business
Apple will now handle support for Beats Music customers, along with businesses offering Apple Pay, through its AppleCare division, according to reports. Previously, Beats Music support was handled by an outsourced firm, but has now been moved in-house after the company was acquired by Apple last year. The move to offer support to businesses implementing Apple Pay will encourage more companies to do so. There is also a specific Merchants support hotline for Apple Pay for those already using the system.
Microsoft simplifies student enrollment process for free Office 365 subscription
Microsoft is offering a simpler way for students around the world to check their eligibility for a free Office 365 license. While free subscriptions have been around for a while, it typically involved a lengthy process to check for eligibility. Now, students and teachers need to just sign up with a valid school email address to receive their subscription, which includes installation of Office apps on up to five computers and up to five mobile devices, as well as 1TB of OneDrive storage.
Kid-Friendly YouTube Browser offers Safe Content Browsing
YouTube is a wonderful place. The sheer amount of content uploaded to it every day is almost enough to entertain and educate us for a lifetime. That being said, YouTube is far from being child-friendly, even though a lot of children's programming winds up on there. Parents have often gone the route of tandem-browsing, only allowing their children to watch the content that they click on. However, if you're ready to let your kid have some unrestricted browsing time without the risk of them stumbling onto the weirder parts of the Internet, we suggest you take a look at Google's new app: Youtube Kids.
Read full Wikipedia articles in under five minutes with inutitive, science based app!
Have you ever wanted to read more, but never found yourself with enough time? Do you love to browse Wikipedia, but find that you don't get to finish what you've started? What if you could read a whole elaborate Wikipedia page in five minutes? What if you could do it in two minutes? That's the idea behind Quickipedia, a speed-reading app designed by Wasdesign, LLC.
Commercial itself was created using iPad Air 2, showcases student works
During the Academy Awards on Sunday night, Apple debuted a new minute-long TV commercial that features the iPad Air 2 -- not only as the subject of the ad, but also as the creative tool that created the spot. Appropriately called "Make a film with iPad," the entire commercial was shot using the built-in camera of the iPad Air 2, and combines the work of students using the tablet to make their own films with behind-the-scenes footage and a voice-over from director Martin Scorsese.