Best Smart Phone apps 2017

Because we all need new smart phone apps! We do. Developers are highly productive and becoming more creative and so it pays to check from time to time to see if there are apps which will improve and enhance your life and productivity. Phones are becoming more the must have device because they can now control and manage so much as well as serve their function as a communications device. Both android and iPhone are offering some really good new apps this year. PCMag has 100 new apps for android phones you can have a look through . popularmechanics has 23 iPhone apps for your consideration and then the video offers some more. Have fun!

Educational app evaluation

Image: pain rating app

It’s pleasing to discover that the world has become very serious about rating mobile apps for educational purposes. There should be some solid reasons and explanations for using apps in an educational setting and there ought to be a well considered way now for rating apps because we have had mobile technology for quite some time . As an educator you need an approach to apps which will guide well thought out decisions about apps’ use. You also need a way to include learner opinion of apps because they are at the receiving end of it and need to be encouraged to be more than passive users. Education apps won’t improve unless we are all working together as a team and rating apps is a good way of identifying strengths, weaknesses and areas for improvement. With some apps you have no choice . They are introduced into an educational environment and you are expected to use them. If you can then go though the process of rating them then there is solid evidence and data to help inform decisions for negotiations about the use of an app or to be able to contact developers and ask if they can work on certain aspects of the app. Those who work in technology usually like a challenge and so are very approachable if you can be clear about what you are asking. Digital teaching and learning is a constant improvement environment and way of being where clarity is important. There are some very helpful evaluation sites which show how you can go about rating apps:

Mobile app rating scale

App evaluation checklist

Ways to evaluate educational apps

I always involved students in app rating and it was a very helpful and interesting exercise for all of us:

The great iPad app review
There are also two useful pdfs to download if you click on the links:

Evaluating apps for Teaching and Learning

Rubric iPad Apps v0.4 Department of Education Western Australia

Writing , writing and writing

writing Image 10 Best Writing apps

Devices offer a diverse array for writing practice in all its varied forms. You can painfully type your way on a mini touch screen and embarrass yourself publicly in quite a spectacular way like I do if you wish or you can nimbly glide across a touch screen and insert images and sound as quick as lightning. Writing doesn’t have to just stare back at you. You can make it move, talk, connect to a website, a clip. You can add animation and annotations. One of the great experiences I discovered on my iPad was iPad magazines. I still read paper ones from time to time but an iPad magazine might include video clips, text reading, QR codes to go elsewhere on the Net, interviews. The whole thing just jumps into life. It means there are also a variety of tool where students can practise the art of writing, planning writing, publishing, multifaceted writing and a number of literacy skills. When there is a smorgasbord of how you can write and develop your writing then the chances of your writing well and being creative are probably quite high. Some of the “cooler” apps are paid for. It is important to research them well to see if they meet your needs or the needs of your classroom. Any app I plan to use in class I research first and then test it out with a couple of students if I plan to use it. They value participating in reviews. TeachThought has 15 e-book writing apps which seem to be paid but which do come tested, so to speak, and so you can look at them to see the sorts of things the e-book writing apps can do. I can see my students using some of these and loving it. There are also 10 best writing apps recommended on NextWeb. Some of these are free and some of them practise and utilise hand writing skills. My favourite writing app is Notability but I also like Documents Free. Now that I have seen all these other apps I want to try them out because each app creates a different impact. Bottom line? Don’t go anywhere without Evernote! Cross platform, cross device , always there and pretty comprehensive.

Mac Apps

It’s exciting to find really good apps for your device or laptop. MacApps can be very reliable and helpful depending what you want to do with your MacBook. Beware apps which drain system resources . You can locate System Monitor in Spotlight to check which apps are heavy on system resources and would be draining your battery. Press the stop icon to stop them from running. My best cleaner for the MacBook is Onyx . It has been reliable over a number of years. The comments underneath the video mention Alfred and that is a very good app if it’s the sort of thing you want. The Mac lets you know about battery charge so I am not sure why you would want a third party one. The video lets you know about 30 good apps. You will probably know about Google Drive and Evernote but here are 28 other apps worth considering which you might not know about.

10 Best Android Apps

Most of these  apps are free but a couple are paid and under $2. I really like the Paper Camera one. The apps are basically for getting a really cool look for your phone, staying up to date with technology information and getting some good functionality.  Phones are not cheap so it’s important to get the best out of them and find the apps which suit you and your life. They are not just a phone these days. Smartphones can be used to enhance so many aspects of your life these days. They are not just talk and text.  If they can play the part and look cool well, that’s a bonus!

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