Mobile App Reviews for Educators

Each month we'll review a highlighted app for iPad/iPod/iPhone or Android devices. We also invite you to add your comments and share with other educators how you used the highlighted app in your school.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Printopia and FingerPrint Take a Bite Out of the Printing/ Filesharing Headache for iOs Devices

FingerPrint by Collobos
If you have an iPad or iPod or work in a school with carts of several iPads, two of the major challenges faced are "How do we share files and how do we print?" Two programs sit out from the rest in making these challenges almost effortless, Printopia for Mac and Fingerprint from for PC or Mac. Both have many features that allow multiple iOS devices to print and share files with no setup needed on the devices themselves and very little setup on your computer.
Printopia by eCamm

Printopia for the Mac has been out for some time and is the better known printing solution. To set it up, simply download one copy on to a Mac computer with a license priced at about $20 per Mac (update its a one-time purchase not yearly as previously thought) and $15 for volume purchases. Once the program is up and running on the same wireless network, that's it. Your iPads/ iPods can now print to any printer that the Mac is able to print to. Opened up, you can customize what printers to give your devices access to and if you pair it up with programs like Dropbox and Evernote, you have a wonderful way to share out files. There are a lot of other exciting features too. One article that describes its features at length can be found here: Printopia Makes Airprint Useful On the iPad.
or go to the Printopia site for the latest updates as features are added to improve its functionality.

This program requires very little effort to be set up by teachers making the file sharing and printing issues less of a headache for IT staff. It does have to run on a Mac and the Mac has to be on. It will need to have printers set up on it for the devices to print to and this software will not work on a PC at this time. For Mac users though, it's a very robust program that works quite well.

To solve the problem for PC users, there is Fingerprint by Before finding Fingerprint, all I could find for the PC were solutions where I had to install a printing app on every device and a streamer on the PC. Each app had a cost so every device that needed to print from another Apple ID or using the Volume Purchasing with the iPad carts would just add to the cost.  Fingerprint works on both Mac and PC and costs only $10 for the one computer. No costly apps have to be installed on the devices themselves.  It does not currently state on the site that it requires a yearly renewal either but that could change, of course. It sets up very similar to Printopia in that you simply install the program on a PC or Mac and when its running, your devices will be able to print to almost any printer that the PC or Mac can print to. Just like Printopia, it also can send files to the computer and to a predetermined Dropbox folder connected with the computer. I've used it in workshops where participants bring in their devices with nothing pre-set up to print and they are amazed when they can print, send files to my computer and send files to a shared Dropbox folder that they can access later from a different computer using a Dropbox link. Just like Printopia, the computer or Mac has to be on so choose something that will be on and accessible for other to connect to. If you want to be able to access files later back on the devices, you can share out a Dropbox folder with the Dropbox app on the devices. If you do not have the Dropbox app or an account on your device, you can place files into the Public folder in Dropbox on the computer. Any file in the Public folder automatically will have a shareable link that can be opened in the Safari app on the iPads.

Now that I have a copy of both of these programs (Printopia for work and Fingerprint on my personal laptop), I'm not sure what to do with all of the printing apps I purchased. Hmmmm I wonder if there is a way to gift them out to someone?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Tips and Resources for iOS 5 and iCloud

Since the upgrade to iOS 5.0, then 5.1 and the introduction of iCloud, there have been a lot of questions about exactly what these "game-changing" features will bring. As I discover and learn about each one, I'm posting them on my online Google Doc "Lowton's List of Tips and Tricks for the iPad" to share with others. I've also started to add some resources and tips for using iCloud because of the many question on how to use this new player in the Apple line-up. There are many new features that may be great for some iPad users but not so great for others who have a larger number of iOS devices all sharing the same Apple ID. Here are some highlighted changes and resources:
Screenshot from site "How to set up iCloud"

Tips and Tricks:
Getting back to the Home screen without using the Home Button
pinch with all five fingers (can work with 4) and whatever app you are in will shrink down until it disappears and you are back on the home screen. (My kids thought this looked "magical" when I showed them!)

See what's running in the background or switch between apps without double clicking the Home button
Take Four fingers and hold and slide up on any screen to display the multi-tasking bar. Slide back down with all four fingers to close the mulit-tasking bar.

Switch between programs without using the multi-tasking bar
Take Four fingers and hold and slide across on any screen. The next running app will appear just like sliding between pictures in a slide show. Slide back across with all four fingers to go back to the original app.

Split the keyboard and Merge again
take one finger from each hand and swipe from the middle of the keyboard outwards in each direction. This will split the keyboard. To Merge again swipe back toward the middle with the two separate fingers. You can also hold down on the keyboard button which will bring up a menu with these options.

Type with the Emoji or "Emoticons" keyboard
In the Settings app, go to General and Keyboard. Choose International keyboards and then add new a keyboard. Emoji will be in the list and this is actually the Japanese word for emoticons. Switch to the app where you want to type and now the World  or "international" keyboard button will appear on the keyboard and you can switch back and forth between the regular keyboard and the emoticon keyboard at any time within any app. (Same for other language keyboards.)

notifications from top or main screen
In the Settings app, go to notifications. Within each app you can decide if you want the notifications to be a hidden slider (banner) that you can pull down from the top or to appear in the middle of your screen (alert). You can also turn off the notifications here from showing up on the lock screen so others can not see your alerts without unlocking the iPad.

Make a "Read Later" list in Safari
in the Safari app, when you come to a site you want to read later but not necessarily put in your favorites, go the the add bookmarks button (the box with a right pointing arrow jumping out of it at the top near the web address box) and drop down to "Add to Reading list". To see the reading list and "check it as read", go to your bookmarks button (the open book icon), and you will see Reading List as an option. Click on the list and then click on the site and it will open that site and clear it from your reading list.

taking screenshots on the iPad
click both the sleep/wake (power) and home buttons at the same time for just a second until you hear a click or see the screen do a quick flash. The picture is then sent to your Photos app. You can now also edit photos in your camera roll within the Photo app, create albums and delete photos or albums created on the iPad.

projector stops projecting the iPad
unplug the SVGA cord (dongle) from the projector cord and iPad and then plug back in. Sometimes you also have to hit "source" or computer on the projector or its remote as well but that usually does it. Another tip is to take a rubber band to hold the dongle firmly onto the SVGA cord from the projector.
Setup automatic downloading of apps or ibooks to all your devices
Go to the Settings App and choose the App store and then turn on or off the auto download of either apps, music or books. An example is my son and daughter each have ipods on my same Apple ID. If I download "beautiful bride" for my daughter on her iPod, it will auto download on my son's ipod (who really doesn't want "girly" apps) so I would turn off the auto download for them to prevent auto download of one child's apps and music on to the other child's device that share my same Apple ID. For the devices I use to teach or present that all share the same Apple ID, I would turn ON this feature (at least for apps) so if I install an app on one device, it will download to the others as well. (You will still be prompted to type in your password on each device.)

Changes Using iCloud
Keynote, Pages and Numbers
Pros:  If syncing to iCloud, you can now have anything you create in Keynote, Pages and Numbers show up on all devices that share the same iCloud account. You can also go to and log in with your Apple ID to download or view these files on a PC or Mac in a 3 different formats to include PDF, Microsoft Office Extensions and of course the original file format they were created in.

Cons: If you have multiple devices being used by multiple users all under the same Apple ID and iCloud account, all files created under theses apps will appear on all devices. (Ex. If you have 4 carts totaling 120 iPads, all files, theoretically, would try to download on each device until it hit some kind of limit. I wouldn’t suggest turning iCloud or iTunes Wireless for such a situation until Apple comes up with a solution to better fit the schools with large iPad deployments

Syncing/Backing up Wirelessly to iCloud/ Wireless iTunes
Pros: you can have all of your backups and software updates done wirelessly without being manually tethered to a computer. You can choose what to include in a backup. You can also turn on something called Photo Stream on your PC or Mac to stream photos for 30 days to your devices.

Cons or "Challenges": Only 5GB of space is given to an iCloud account although there is the option to purchase more space. I witnessed one person back up her very full and large sized iPad until it used up what appears to be 2GB. She still had 2 more devices on the account and realized how fast that 5GB would fill up. Contact, Email and Calendar data all syncing to the same space under one account. If you have your professional info on one device under the same account as your personal devices owned by your children or spouse, you may not want this info shared across all devices.  (I’m told you can create different iCloud accounts using more than one accounts under the same Apple ID but I haven’t tried it. If you have, please comment or contact me to let me know if it works.)

Using and Activating iCloud on your Computer
Go to and log in with your Apple ID. Now most people think they will be able to access the data from all of their apps because it sent up a back up of all iPad data. This is not the case. At you can access Contacts, FindMyiPhone, Calendar, Mail and iWorks (Keynote, Pages and Numbers) and that is it. You cannot access your photos or movies but you can activate Photo Stream on PCs with Windows Vista or 7 or on a Mac with either Lion or iPhoto v9.2 or higher. This is still limited to photos placed in a photostream folder for 30 days only but provides some access to those photos on your devices from your computer without a manual sync. For detailed instructions on setting up iCloud and PhotoStream on an iPad, Mac or PC, check out the site "How to set up iCloud".

As I explore all of these changes and new features, I find some to be really exciting and then also find some to be a little challenging depending on the situation of the device owner. Many of the features in iCloud and Wireless iTunes are still a little gray at times to me even after reading multiple articles on how they work. If you have found a great article that really clearly explains them all, please share!

As I find more tips, resources and ideas, I'll keep posting them on the Google Doc online. If you have a great one I've missed, just let me know as I'm constantly finding there are so many features to these devices.

To access the online spreadsheet of tips and tricks and resources you can click here: .

Here is a list a couple of my iCloud and iOS resources on this post as well as the Google Doc.
iPad User Guide iOS5
Avoiding the iCloud Storage Gotcha
iCloud: What You Need to Know