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.
Beautifully designed stargazing app mixes art and education
We've covered apps that aim to help novice stargazers before, and for the most part we've enjoyed the apps we've covered. There have been apps that have been almost entirely based around aesthetics, and several that are purely educational, with few choosing to try to strike a balance between. However, we took a look at Sky Guide, by Fifth Star Labs, an app that promises to be every bit as educational as it is beautiful.
Sony unveils premium 64GB micro SDXC memory card for sale in Japan
Sony has revealed an expensive memory card to go with its high-fidelity $1,200 Walkman NW-ZX2 media player. The Wall Street Journal reports that the SR-64HXA 64GB micro SDXC memory card, billed as "for Premium Sound" will be sold in Japan for approximately $160, or five times the cost of a standard equivalent. Sony claims the memory card will produce less electrical noise when the host device reads data off it, and though it admits that it is uncertain about the potential demand for the card, the company "thought some people who are committed to great sound quality would want it."
Chromebook 11, Latitude 11 notebooks joined by Venue 10, Venue 10 Pro tablets
Dell has launched new tablets and notebooks aimed at the educational market. The Chromebook 11 and the Latitude 11 Education Series are "schoolyard tough" notebooks that has survived MIL-STD 810G testing for shock, vibrations, pressure, and temperatures, while the Venue 10 and Venue 10 Pro tablets, with the introduced devices all including rubberized trim for added protection.
FDA reassesses regulations, apps, Class III medical devices
According to a 2014 study by the Center for Disease Control, 29.1 million Americans -- 9.3 percent of the national population -- have diabetes. Particularly for those with Type 1 diabetes, keeping a close eye on blood glucose levels is key for avoiding life-threatening highs and lows. DexCom, makers of blood glucose monitors that take a reading every five minutes, is said to be developing a new Apple Watch app to interface with its monitors, expected to be ready when it becomes available in April.
Sling TV accepting new customer registrations without an invitation
Dish Network's Sling TV has been opened up to new registrations without requiring an invitation, following its soft launch. Spotted by GigaOM, the Internet TV service provides a trial week of usage before requiring users to pay for access. While the basic package includes live access to 15 channels for $20 per month, a collection of three add-on packages containing channels relating to news and information, kids and family, and sports can all be added at $5 per extra bundle.
Read translated newspapers from around the globe
Don't be shocked now: there are news sources that may just possibly be a teeny bit biased in their reporting. Perhaps. Actually, some sites and television news services are so blatantly politically biased that they're as funny as they are disturbing. However, in truth, every single source of news you ever see is biased to a lesser or greater degree. You can hope that it isn't an ideological bias, or a political one, and thankfully you can often be right. Nonetheless, there is no news service in the world that isn't biased by location at least: if it happens on their patch, it's bigger news. What myNews Pro, and its free ad-supported myNews lite version, do is effectively change your patch.
Engaging puzzler equally good for binging or playing in spurts
The game Portal brought two things to the attention of a wider audience more so than any other puzzle game: firstly, just how satisfying it is to feel so clever after solving a puzzle; and secondly, just how easily a normally rational human being can become emotionally invested in a box. Odd Bot Out is a side-scrolling puzzler for iOS and Android, providing equal parts "I'm a big dang genius" and "totes adorbs" moments throughout.
Turn your iPad into a graphing calculator
Graphing calculators are immensly helpful tools, whether you're taking a high school trigonometry class, spending time in a college physics lab, or doing any sort of real-world number crunching. Traditional graphing calculators, however, aren't a great solution in this tablet age anymore, and can cost as much as an iPad! GraphMe HD, by Marcos Alan Gonzalez Schtulmann, seeks to improve upon the classic graphic calculator's flaws, by turning an iPad into a superior scientific instrument.
Credit card-sized computer will run Windows 10 in future
A new version of the Raspberry Pi micro computer has launched, with a number of upgraded components. Measuring 85.6mm by 56.5mm (3.4 inches by 2.2 inches) and weighing in 45 grams (1.6 ounces), the Raspberry Pi 2 is just as compact as the original, though this time the 700MHz single-core ARMv6 processor has been replaced by a quad-core ARMv7-based 900MHz chip, with an increased 1GB of RAM.
Switches to Apple Store gift cards for bonuses
Apple has launched the Australia and New Zealand editions of its annual Back to School promotion. Qualifying university students, parents, and educational staff are being given gift cards matched to the device they buy; unlike last year, though, the cards are for the Apple Store, rather than for the Mac or iOS App Store. A similar change was made last year for the American Back to School promo.
Generally directed at bugfixes
Apple has released iOS 8.1.3 via iTunes and as an over-the-air download. Though primarily a maintenance update, it does make one important change: reducing the amount of storage that will be needed for future over-the-air upgrades. The amount of space iOS 8 required for an OTA update was a common complaint by users; on 16GB iPhones and iPads, there is frequently too little room left, forcing people to use iTunes instead. Apple hasn't said how much storage will be needed in the future.
Monitor the weather in detail from your pocket
Meteorology is a fascinating topic, and one that is freely available for most people to study, provided they know where to look. Monitoring the national weather websites is a great place to start, but if you're looking for something more portable, MeteoEarth by MeteoGroup Deutschland is like having a weather station in your pocket.
Reinforced cases, hinges used in educational Acer Chromebooks
Acer has unveiled two Chromebooks aimed at the education market. The C910 and C740 Chromebooks are sturdy notebooks contained in reinforced covers capable of withstanding up to 60kg (132 pounds) of force, with the corners able to survive drops of up to 45 centimeters (17.7 inches) without damage, making the computers highly durable.
Let your child explore their inner chef with Toca Kitchen 2
Not every game needs to have a set objective. The reason games like Minecraft have done so well is because they encourage players to do whatever feels fun for them. Toca Boca is known for creating games for iOS that capitalize on this feature. Like most Toca Boca AB games, Toca Kitchen 2 is objectiveless, and focuses more on role play and silliness than anything else.
Focus Eduction forced to drop unproven boast to improve childrens' concentration
A posting by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) today describes a settlement between it and Texas software developer, Focus Education. The complaint, filed by the FTC, was over statements made by Focus on its website and infomercials regarding the benefits of playing its iFocus System "brain training" games.
Mirrors website content
The Khan Academy iOS app has been given a newly redesigned iPad interface, and access to the same range of course content as the service's website. This includes not just videos -- which were previously available -- but all 150,000-plus learning exercises. Product director Matt Wahl notes that this is "where the majority of people spend their time" with Khan.
Image comes from famous 'I Have a Dream' speech in 1963
Apple has given over its US "landing page" on its website to the memory and commemoration of assassinated civil right leaders Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., one of the rare times the company has honored an individual. Using an #MLK hashtag, Apple CEO Tim Cook tweeted the theme of the image, which is taken from King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech delivered in Washington, DC a little over 51 years ago: "Honoring the life and legacy" of Dr. King, one of Cook's oft-named inspirations.
Preschoolers build birdhouses in this fun interactive game
Games for the under-five crew tend to be a mixed bag. Sometimes the games are too hard, requiring difficult-to-grasp concepts like timed tapping or difficult puzzle-solving. Other times the games are often too simple, and are more like movies. One game that has managed to strike a good balance between engaging and simple is Duckie Deck Bird Houses, by Duckie Deck Development.
Take off into space with this fun rocket builder
The fun of space travel has long been reserved for astronauts and rocket scientists, which seems a little unfair sometimes. In 1970s television, we were promised routine space travel by the 21st century, which we clearly haven't gotten yet. How many of us have thought about how fun it would be to take off and soar through space, or wanted to design a rocket that could explore the furthest reaches of space? Not everyone is a rocket scientist, but with Simple Rockets by developer Jundroo, everyone gets the chance to design their own rocket.
Google Classroom launches apps for iOS and Android
Google has released iOS and Android apps to accompany its Google Classroom web platform. Initially launched last summer, Google Classroom allows teachers to create and collect assignments paperlessly, available to anyone with Google Apps for Education. The new native Classroom app for iOS and Android broadens the capacity for teachers and students to connect with each other, and features photo sharing, sharing content from other apps and offline caching.
Release your inner cosmetologist with this fun hair salon app
Makeover apps tend to be somewhat serious, and are generally geared toward adults. Instead of being a fun game, they tend to be more akin to photo-editing software, which is generally pretty complex and low on the amusement scale. Toca Boca, however, has stepped forth with Toca Hair Salon 2, a makeover game that offers a lot to younger gamers or future beauticians.
Problems included finances, heavy dependence on Apple ecosystem
The Los Angeles Unified School District's failed iPad deployment was botched early on, according to a review by the US Education Department. The federal agency says that the LAUSD put too hard an emphasis on using Apple hardware and software, ignoring cheaper options that could have saved money for the district and taxpayers. In July the LAUSD said it was shifting to a strategy involving Chromebooks and Windows devices, such as the Microsoft Surface.
Bolster your Spanish vocabulary with targeted flashcard app
It's a fact that Spanish is the world's fourth most-spoken language, with over 350 million native speakers across 21 countries. It's also a fact that people who are bilingual tend to do better in both academic pursuits as well as their career. If you've ever been curious about learning another language, Learn Spanish by Brainscape offers a solution for those who are trying to learn Spanish on the go.
Parents gain new one-stop category, but in-app purchases still lurk
Over the weekend, Apple launched a new subsection of the App Store called Games for Kids, following the opening of the dedicated Kids category in September 2013. The Games for Kids section breaks out groups of games for various age groups, mirroring the other actions that offer more educational apps for children divided by age. Interestingly, most of the featured games avoid in-app purchases.
Design cute critters with your toddler set using Toca Mini
One of the best parts about video games is character customization. Upon starting a game, we're given a blank slate to turn into whatever we want. There's something undeniably fun and very personal about designing a character, which is why the option is given in so many games. What if there was a game that was centered only around character customization, allowing you to create an endless stream of different characters? Developer Toca Boca AB has created Toca Mini, a game that promises to help scratch that itch, at least for the younger users.
A fun game for little gamers to play on their own
There are tons of games available for elementary-age students in the App Store, and most center around simple puzzle-solving and basic game play. However, parents of younger children might not realize that there are also games available for toddlers. One such game is Duckie Deck Collection, by Duckie Deck Development, which aims to entertain even the youngest gamers.
Or how to use up all those iTunes gift cards you're going to get
Although we have mentioned some app bargains in our "beyond the last minute" gift guide this morning, the elves at MacNN and Electronista have been hunting up some additional discounts by shaking the App Store tree and seeing what falls out. We found a few more, so click through to save a bundle on some awesome app deals -- and don't forget to check back with us regularly for DealNN reports, Apple refurb store bargains, and our usual Friday Deals all year long!
Kids take the wheel in a fun pre-K game
Keeping younger kids entertained on long road trips isn't always easy. Parents often sacrifice their sanity by employing kids-themed entertainment, forcing them to choose between a fussy toddler or ten different renditions of "Old McDonald." Instead of attempting to distract kids with the same ten songs they've heard since birth, why not try Sago Mini Road Trip, by developer Sago Sago, and allow kids to take control of the wheel?