It’s always good to be running the very latest versions of Apple software – especially when the updates are free – so you’re probably tempted to update your iPad from iOS 5 to iOS 6. Before you do take the plunge, remember you might end up with an iPad that behaves slightly differently to previously, but here are a few of the features that we think make the update well worth it.
Improved app updating
Now you can update all of your apps on the iPad without needing to type in a password. I suppose the theory is that the app wouldn’t be on there if you didn’t want it to be, and you needed the password to install it in the first place (you still need the password to purchase and install any new apps though). One potential downside for some schools though is that previously if the pupil didn’t know the password, they couldn’t update the apps. Now they can, so you run the risk of some pupils updating and some not. Different app versions might behave differently so it’s one to watch. The other thing I like is that apps update without the iPad going back to the Home screen. You can see the progress of each update inside the App Store. Of course you can exit the app and do something else without interrupting the updates, just like before.
Getting work out of Pages, Keynote and Numbers
Pages, Numbers and Keynote finally get the ‘Open In…’ sharing function. The obsolete iWork.com option has gone, and your options now read: Email, Print, Open In…, Copy to iTunes, Copy to WebDAV. Just like with email, Open In… offers you three export options, iWork native, PDF or Office (doc, exs or ppt). Pick the format and then choose your app. Dropbox, MobilEcho, Evernote, Skydrive… All the usual options are there. Brilliant!
Open In… has had a global facelift too. In all apps which use it, the menu now has a grid format, and supports multiple pages, instead of the short list we had before, limited to ten apps only.
Upload pictures to websites and add them to emails
In Safari Mobile, the buttons on websites allowing you to upload a picture or video now actually work. Previously, clicking the typical ‘Choose file’ button on a standard website wouldn’t work on an iPad, but now it does, allowing you to pick a picture from your Photo Library or Camera Roll, or take a new picture. It works with photos and videos but nothing else at the moment.
Similarly, when you’re writing an email you can now stop to insert a picture from your Photos library. Previously you had to start with the picture and choose to share it by email. This method makes much more sense, and means that you can now insert more than one picture into an email really easily as you type.
Keeping young minds focused
Guided Access is a new feature aimed at shop environments, but with some potential in schools. Basically you give it a four digit pin code and you can then force iPad to stay on one app, disabling parts of the screen and Home button. At that point the iPad basically can only be used with the one app, until you type the pin number in again. For learners with attention difficulties, motor skills issues or simply a tendency to go off topic this could be very useful.
Also worth knowing
Apple are changing their relationship with Google, and this affects Google’s apps. There is no longer a YouTube app by default, and the Google Maps app is also gone. You can get around both of these by opening either of those services in Safari, and then tapping the Share icon and selecting ‘Add to Home Screen’. This creates a shortcut to the web page which works like an app. Apple have included their own Maps app now, which is a collaboration with TomTom. There are good points – better navigation, low res maps are there even without a WiFi signal, and 3D views of major cities are incredible. At the moment the satellite views are a bit patchy, and my own home town of Nottingham is in black and white, and covered by dense cloud! Give it time though – Google was the same for the first year.
I’d like to mention the Clock app too. Usefully, it will display six clocks side by side, showing time all over the world, and the map underneath shows where the day/night dividing line is in real time. Really handy for teaching about the date line and the rotation of the earth.
Finally, for those of you who have had trouble getting Evernote and Dropbox to synchronise, try it again with iOS 6. Apple have changed the way iPad uses Proxy Server information, and we’re getting reports from some schools that it’s letting these apps sync where they wouldn’t before.