Guided Access for iPhone and iPad will benefit teachers and parents

Apple’s iOS 6 introduces a feature that will benefit teachers and parents alike. Guided Access is a new accessibility function on the iPhone and iPad that lets you disable certain controls within an app and prevents kids from navigating away. When I was a special ed. teacher, I would have loved something like this.

It’s been demonstrated that many students with autism have benefited from using the iPad. That’s something I relate to, as I was a teacher at a school for kids with autism and other developmental delays for eight years. We used all sorts of assistive communication devices, and ran the same problem over and over: the kids often tapped buttons that they shouldn’t, usually inadvertently. It was frustrating for the students, the teachers and the parents.

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I dislike the iOS 6 App Store’s new look

I took grief about this on Twitter today, but I’m right. Apple has re-designed the look of the iOS App Store with iOS 6, which was released today. App icons “bleed” off of the edge of the screen, prompting the user to swipe and see more.

I hate it.

It’s ugly, it’s cluttered, it’s un-Apple. Worst of all, it’s confusing.

Is my iPhone displaying this improperly?

Should I be holding this in landscape?

Why are these apps cut off?

In the images above, the iOS 6 App Store is on the left. There are seven items displayed. I can’t read the titles of three of them. Some people told me that I find it troublesome because I’m a geek and typical users will find the positioning helpful. I disagree. In the image above, you can see “See All >” on the screen. It clearly suggests that there’s more off screen.

The iOS 5.x App Store layout, pictured on the right above, is tidy, clear and usable. It was far superior.

I’m now dreading iTunes 11.

Evening tech news July 16 2012

Today’s tech news, neat and tidy in a single post for you.

The sad state of Office 2013 touch support

Ars Technica’s Peter Bright examines the state of Microsoft Office and touch computing. Considering the emphasis on touch in Windows 8‘s Metro interface, Bright wonders why Office 2013 — one of Microsoft’s important products — isn’t a Metro-style app. Office ’13 does offer some touch support. Specifically, the ribbon features greater spacing between elements when in “touch” mode and apps like Word and Outlook support two-finger zooming. And that’s about it.

What’s worse, Bright explains, is how many elements do not support touch at all, like check boxes and radio buttons in the options screen, as well as dialog boxes like Excel’s “format cells.” As Bright says, “The Office team appears to be positioning touch support more as a way of enabling simple edits to be made as a kind of fall-back—a stopgap solution for those times when the mouse and keyboard aren’t available.”

Adobe releases fix for OS X 10.7.4 InDesign crashing bug

Warning! Of something!

Earlier this week, Adobe admitted that InDesign was crashing on Intel Ivy Bridge-equipped MacBooks running OS X 10.7.4 in the form of blank dialog boxes. Today the company has released a fix, though it’s not easy to apply. The ZIP file includes the necessary components and instructions on how to get InDesign to behave. There’s a script that will install the files for you, and instructions on updating manually if the script fails. If neither of those solutions work, Adobe suggests a third option: “Do not install or remove the installation of the MacOS Mid 2012 Software Update for 10.7.4.” No, “MacOS” is not my spelling error.

iOS 6 will offer icloud.com email addresses

iOS 6 beta three was released today, and MacRumors notes that the changelog mentions the pending availability of icloud.com email addresses:

“icloud.com email addresses are now available for iCloud mail users. Users signing up for new Apple IDs, or enabling Mail on their iCloud account for the first time, will automatically receive an @icloud.com email address instead of a me.com email address. iCloud users with @me.com addresses that have been used with iOS 6 beta 3 will receive an @icloud.com email address that matches their @me.com address.”

Note that existing @me.com and @mac.com users will not be required to switch. Heck, I still use the @mac.com address I got through iTools. Still, I wondered if Apple would make @icloud.com email address available some day. Now I know.

Apple working to fix in-app purchase security problem

Late last week, a hacker demonstrated how to bypass Apple’s in-app purchasing system. This week, Apple has responded to say its working on a fix. Too bad, I was looking forward to ripping off some of my friends while interacting with a Russian hacker’s server.

Microsoft, NBC part ways

MSNBC.com now resolves to NBCnews.com. Here’s a look back at MSNBC’s first broadcast from July, 1996.

Reviewers struggle to get a Nexus 7 out of the box

Not news, but a fun way to end this post. Plus, “Fandroid” is a great name for  a blog.

iOS 6 Single App Mode and Guided Access

Update: For details on how to set up and use Guided Access, look here.

Apple’s Scott Forstall introduced iOS 6 yesterday at WWDC 2012, giving customers and developers a look at the future of their iPhones, iPod touches and iPads. After showing off the new Maps, Siri updates and Facebook integration, Forstall talked about Guided Access and Single App Mode. As a parent, I’m eagerly anticipating both.

These features will let customers with disabilities use their iPhones, iPod touches and iPads like never before. Scott explained that many students with autism have benefited from using the iPad. That’s something I relate to, as I was a teacher at a school for kids with autism and other developmental delays for eight years. We used all sorts of assistive communication devices, and ran into a problem that Forstall described: the kids often tapped buttons that they shouldn’t, usually inadvertently. It was frustrating for the students, the teachers and the parents.

Guided Access, a new feature in iOS 6, address the issue. It lets you identify and disable certain controls before handing over the iPad. Fantastic. Additionally, Guided Access locks the iPad into a single app. That way, the Home button can’t be pressed, pushing the student out of the app s/he should be using.

Scott mentions other use cases. For example, typical students can be “locked” into an electronic test, preventing “cheating” with Google. Likewise, it’s a great setup for a kiosk iPad at a museum.

I’m looking forward to using Guided Access and Single App Mode with my own kids. Sometimes I’ll let them play around but don’t want them switching into SMS, email or what have you. Now I can do that easily. Well done, Apple. This is something I’ve wanted for a long time.

WWDC 2012 keynote: the summary slides

I love watching Apple make major product announcements. They’re just fun. A big part of the fun is finding little tidbits that are mentioned in passing or breezed over entirely. Apple’s presenters typically end their segments with an overview slide. Those slides often contain the very tidbits I’m talking about: fun and compelling. Here’s a look at what was on the slides during today’s keynote presentation at WWDC 2012.

Here’s the slide that wrapped up the Mountain Lion presentation. On it you’ll find:

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