Editing Google Presentations on an iPad mini – Appser

This is a big deal for schools using Google Apps and iPads. I discovered appser on twitter today, an app for editing google docs on an iPad like it was a desktop.

Google Apps (for Education or not) are pretty popular amongst educators working online. And so, for some, are iPads. But the two do not work well together – there are major limitations. I imagine this app is exploiting new features of Google Apps and maybe they will become native soon, but until then, presentations do not play friendly with iOS. So, let’s see if that’s about to change.

These images are my first foray into editing a presentation using appser. The captions detail what is being tested. Only main features are addressed. Appser starts like Google Apps in any browser with the black bar across the top and Drive open displaying your docs. It basically behaves like the desktop version of Googles productivity suite. The images are deliberately small – the captions say what’s going on – nearly everything appears the same as the desktop/browser version.


Editing text boxes: click into the box and then press the keyboard button bottom right to show the keyboard.


Some times an error message appeared. It crashes. Each time you refresh the doc it shows that another user is viewing the document (but that’s only you a minute ago).


Inserting an image behaves the same until you have to access your camera or camera roll. All good.


The camera roll appears like this. Same as the wordpress app on iOS.


Here is the image (screenshot of google earth volcano). All good.


Image can be resized and moved with your finger.


You can rename the file the same as on the desktop version.


When choosing a new theme, the crash happened again.


But the theme did change at second attempt. And, if you touch and hold, like copy and paste on iOS, you get the sub-menu for Google presentations.


Another crash when changing the animation of the image. Did not get this to work.

Overall, this app is doing a good job. The crashes (total of six whilst making this quick pres.) mean it is not good enough to rely on yet but it is free! The crash messages are annoying and have something to do with offline docs needing to be manually reset. I couldn’t find an answer to this.

To scroll you have to use two fingers, which is unique to this app IME, and you have to remember to do it at first. At the time of writing, there are no editing features available for presentations via Google Drive or via the Google Chrome app. So, if you are a GAfE school and have some iPads, maybe you should put this app through it’s paces. I liked it so much, I wrote this.

Update: Appser was removed from the App Store in January 2013. I couldn’t find an explanation as to why. The company applied an upgrade to v2.0 and it was removed as documented here on AppShopper: http://appshopper.com/productivity/appser-for-google-docs. It displays in iTunes as not available in UK Store but I believe this is showing similarly in all regions.

Found the company post about the removal (http://www.doxout.com/1/post/2013/03/farewell-appser-for-google-docs.html):

We are removing Appser for Google Docs from the App Store. From now on, you won’t be able to download it anymore.

We know that some of you really loved it. We loved it, too. We needed it. But, there is only that much we can do on top of Google’s app. Appser can never become a top-of-the-line product. And what’s the point of working on it if it can never get there.

Therefore we decided it’s in everyone best interest to cease development and remove the app from the store.

On a lighter note, we just updated Presentation Note and are working on some really cool products that will launch later this year.

Stay tuned!

Alas and alack, it’s not coming back!

My Twitter workflow – diigo and evernote

Often I receive puzzled looks when I say the word twitter. And I think I understand why. But maybe I don’t. It’s hard to see why non-tweeters are non-believers. Also, many twitter users I know do not use the service like I do. So, for tweeters and non-tweeters alike, I thought I’d explain my twitter workflow.

  1. I read tweets during incidental/transtion moments unless I am following a hashtag for a conference or something that has piqued my interest.
  2. A link grabs my attention and I follow it.
  3. I like what I see/read and want to save it somewhere to recall it later (for me that’s evernote or diigo bookmarks)
  4. I retweet it using the *quote tweet* option, including some #hashtags that will turn into #tags in my bookmarks. [NB: quote tweet does not exist on twitter’s web app, but on it’s mobile app as pictured below, and on major twitter clients like hootsuite]
  5. It saves into my diigo account (using packratius). [NB: I used packratius first, then switched to ifttt but they stopped doing it – can’t remember how I do it now but packratius works]
  6. The last slide in the deck below shows diigo and evernote integrated into my google searches on chrome – pretty nifty when you are retrieving material at a later date.

No slides? Click here.

This makes sense to me because, if I want to save it, then it is likely that some people who follow me would like to see it as well. Some fellow tweeters favourite their tweets to save them to evernote or their bookmarking service or for future reference. But this model works well for me. I pay careful attention to the tags so I can retrieve the material when I come to do some work in that area. You need to be careful with tags. It’s not as obvious as you might think. Develop a consistent approach and stick with it. For example, if you are researching ipads and save lots of ipad links, the tag ipad will quickly have dozens of results which don’t help you much. Here is where tag combinations come into play: e.g. #ipad #app #geography.

If I want to read/watch the content in more detail later, I also include @myen (how to) in the retweet so it saves into my linked evernote account. This will put the tweet into my workflow from where I will process it. [NB: If I retweet a link it always saves in diigo, whether I want it to or not.] The slide deck below shows tweeting to evernote.

No slides? Click here.

If you do it differently, let me know. Always good to share how we get things done.


Frog iOS App –> for the Win

A company called PixelBit builds apps for schools using Frog.

They sent out a half price offer for their smartphone app solution which includes android as well as iOS, and mobile web friendly access to make sure any device can use the handheld functionality that might well prove a game changer for Frog because it’s strengths are in communications – pushing the right data to the right person at their convenience. They are developing refinements to the app all the time, and unlike a lot of other development companies, they use the app for their day jobs. In my mind this means they are designers and users which always helps to make a good product.

First up is a set of iPhone screenshots I took.

After that is the video from their website.

I can’t shake the feeling that if we spent circa £1500.00 on an app for our Frog launch in September, we would be backing a winner. I hope our management agree to release the funds.

Here is a post by Steve Margetts, Dep Head at DHSB, explaining the impact of their Frog app.

Repairing gadgets

cracked ipod screen

My stepson turns 17 this week.

The economic climate dictates it might not be his best haul of presents. To his credit, he has asked for things to be repaired. My experience of sourcing the cheapest way to get these repairs done is why I am writing.



Sony PS3

iPod Touch 2nd Generation

iPod Classic 5th Generation

The PS3 repair filled me with dread. When he bought it we had to get a total of three new ones under warranty because the blue-ray player did not work. This was the same. The disk could not be read.

I used http://gumtree.com to locate a local repair man. I rang Danny on a mobile number (FYI: 07508 698 845, he does all gaming consoles). It all seemed a bit dodgy but I ended up travelling three miles (Harrow) and having a cup of coffee in a greasy-spoon whilst I waited for Danny to repair the machine in his bedsit. He did an excellent job. £40.00.

My partner handled the iPod Touch. She phoned a company found online. It had two faults (cracked screen and only one ear working on headphones) and they quoted £51.00 + p&p. iPod was sent away in good faith. Received an email three days later to say the repair would be £170.00 because the logic board needed replacing as well. I spoke to the company and they claimed the device would not turn on even with a new battery in it. The device worked before it was posted. I felt like I was being conned because one of the options was for the company to dispose of the device on our behalf. I paid for it to be returned to us. I plugged it in and it worked, showing the battery as fully charged and the iPod worked fine. When I removed the cable it turned off. I cannot say for certain what has happened. Only it did work before it went and it didn’t when it arrived home. The company is called The iPod Clinic (http://www.theipodclinic.co.uk/FixMyiPod.aspx). This device is yet to be repaired.

iPod 5th Gen was repaired by a local company called Gizmo Repairs based in Acton, London W3 (they do online repairs too). They wanted £35.00 to replace the LCD screen which had lines across it. The repair was done the same day, but not without hitches. They phoned me to say the logic board was broken on this one as well. However, I actually showed him the device working before I handed it over. He replaced the logic board for free. This will be my stepsons new music device because my partner no longer needs it.

Repairs are better than buying new kit. The repair services on the Internet are many and, as I experienced, once the device is out of your hands, you are at the mercy of the good faith of an Internet business and you don’t know how good they are (always a good idea to search for company reviews before sending away – which we had not done). I spoke to one company who apologised for their website being out of date. It was one of 75 websites they kept. I assume this is an online service business tactic. Customers are not likely to click on any one website so make several different sites that all connect to the same service at the back-end. Then get your SEO right and Google will help make sure one of your sites is the chosen online service.

It also suggests that the world of technology consumption might slow down. Once everyone has a device that does what you need – create, store and consume digital media – people may think twice before buying new kit. My iPad 1 is fine and I do not feel the need to upgrade yet (although I would like to) and equally, the iPhone 4S is not a big enough reason to shell out the cash and upgrade from my iPhone 4. A colleague loves his Kindle but is not upgrading to Kindle Fire; however, he thinks an iPad might suit his family better.

Will you be replacing old kit with new unless there is a hardware reason for doing so?

I will be recommending the good services to all in my community, on twitter and in school.

[Image by me, in case you hadn’t guessed :) ]

email on my mobile no more

locked outMy mobile is a vital part of my working life from dawn till dusk.

Until recently I was able to integrate my school email into the native mail client. This meant I was able to respond to mail no matter where I was. In my role with responsibility for ICT across the school this was very helpful because I could assist colleagues as quickly as my schedule would allow. It also meant that, from my mobile, I could send colleagues articles and websites (found via twitter and my RSS reader) pertaining to their subject.

Last Friday, my mailbox was migrated to Microsfot Exchange 2010 from 2003. The increased security controls of the Outlook Web Access client meant that policy could enforce greater security onto my handset. Before it had remote wipe and an agreed policy to have a four-digit passcode to unlock the device. After the email client upgrade I was only able to open my device with a four digit passcode that included three complex characters (capital letter, symbol, number and one other).

This meant I had to enter the complex passcode every time I wanted to check anything on my mobile. I lasted less than 24 hours before removing my school email from my mobile. This is a blow for my productivity.

Solution: access the webmail via safari on a home screen bookmark. Harder to read and will not replace the native method of distributing items of interest to my colleagues. Great shame. Too much security without any consideration of the user and how such services are used.

What security do you have for your mobile device (not work issued)?

Image: CC by TruthOut