Tag Archives: iPad

Tips and Tricks for New iPad Users

By Tracey Dowdy

The iPad has been around for several years and like most devices, each generation adds new features and shortcuts.

Whether you’ve just purchased your iPad or you haven’t explored much, these hacks can help you make the most of your new tablet.

  • Play a video within a separate app. To watch a video or FaceTime while you browse another app, press the Home button. The video will shrink and drop to the lower right corner of your screen. Tap the Home button again to return to full-screen. Note: this functionality is app specific, not universal. (iPad Air 2 and iPad Pro only)
  • Zoom in and out. Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Zoom and make sure the slider is set to On to enable you to zoom in on specific areas of your screen.
  • Use Split View to run two apps simultaneously. Simply swipe in from the right side of the screen and one app will launch in Slide Over view. Tap the white handle that appears in the second app to expand it into a split-screen. (iPad Air 2 and iPad Pro only)
  • Customize accessibility features for users with visual or auditory impairment. Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Accessibility Shortcut to enable specific features immediately accessible by triple-pressing the Home button. Select Voice Over, Invert Colors, Grayscale, Zoom, Switch Control, or Assistive Touch.
  • Open a sidebar without leaving an app. This is one feature Android and Windows devices have offered for awhile and Apple is finally catching up. While one app is open, you can simply swipe right to the edge of your screen and a list of compatible apps will appear. Tap the one you want and it will appear alongside the app currently open. (iPad Air 2 and iPad Pro only)
  • Turn on Find My iPad. Go to Settings > iCloud > Find My iPad and toggle the slider to On. You also have the option to send location information to Apple if the battery is getting low. To find your iPad, log in to iCloud or open the Find My iPhone app on your phone. Remember, it uses your phone’s location services so it will let you know if the iPad is at your house, but sadly not where in the house.
  • Choose what appears in your dock. Siri is intuitive and learns the apps you use most, but you can go one step further and customize the six apps that appear in your dock. Hold down an app just as you would if you were deleting or moving your apps around and drag them to the bottom of the screen.
  • Use your iPad as a second monitor. (Available with some third-party apps) After installing third-party apps like Duet Display or Air Display, you have the option to connect your iPad to your computer and enable it to act as a second display.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

Setting Digital Boundaries for Our Kids

By Tracey Dowdy

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, 38 percent of kids under the age of two use smartphones and iPads. Depending on your perspective that statistic can be inspiring or cause for concern.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has released a new study and with it recommendations on technology use and how best to teach our kids to be mindful citizens of a digital world.

Parents magazine advisor Ari Brown, M.D., Chair of the AAP’s Children, Adolescents, and Media Leadership Working Group, points out, “We are here to help parents. We know the challenges and we want to be realistic in our approach. As a pediatrician and a mom, I have personally struggled with how to advise families (and my own family) with the explosion of technology as there are many benefits, but definitely some concerns.” In other words, finding a balance is key.

Pediatrician Dr. Donald Shifrin notes, “The most dangerous thing we can do for youngsters nowadays is to deny them access to the digital world. But the second most dangerous thing is to give them unlimited access.”

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So how do we follow Dr. Shifrin’s advice and find that balance? How much is too much and how little is too little? Fortunately, there are a few other factors to consider and by following these tips it will be easier to set boundaries for your little ones and continue those healthy habits as your kids get older.

  • Start by being a good role model. If your kids only ever see the top of your head because you’re always looking down at your phone or tablet, they’re learning that what’s on a screen is generally more important than what’s going on around them. Put down your device and engage in face to face conversation, making eye contact and consciously engaging with your child. Give and take conversations, learning to read body language, and hearing you use words in sentences are critical to a child’s vocabulary and general language development.
  • As in every area of a toddler’s life, boundaries are crucial. We set bedtimes, playtime, schedule our meals and snacks and screen time should be no different. Consider establishing rules like equal time for imaginative play indoors or outdoors for every hour spent online. We had a “no phones at the table” rule with our girls growing up. Those dinner conversations are some of our best memories and we still laugh at the stories we told.
  • Stay engaged with your kids while they’re online. Even if the game or activity is simple enough for them to do on their own, play with them when you can. Letting them lose or teaching them to wait their turn is a big part of learning sportsmanship.
  • Just because the app claims to be educational doesn’t mean it is. There are thousands of “educational” apps available for download but many don’t live up to the label and provide little cognitive value for your kids. Do your research and look for suggestions from trusted sources like The Online Mom to help you determine which free and paid apps are worth downloading.

Finally, keep your boundaries age appropriate and don’t forget to be flexible. As I mentioned earlier, while face-to-face interaction is best and limited screen time for kids under two is ideal, don’t beat yourself up if you pop your little sweetheart in front of your iPad so you can brush your teeth or make a cup of coffee. On a personal note, although the Barney theme song makes my teeth ache to this day with its sugary sweetness, I loved that giant purple dinosaur’s videos for buying me time to run to the bathroom or start dinner in peace.

Parenting is arguably the hardest job you’ll ever do, so take the advice in this article, give yourself some leeway, and adapt what works best for you and your family.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Toronto, ON. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances and researches on subjects from family and education to pop culture and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

What to Expect from iOS 9

By Tracey Dowdy

Apple’s WorldWide Developer Conference kicked off earlier this week but, in typical Apple fashion, they had our attention long before the first speaker hit the stage.

Among the biggest announcements at WWDC is this Fall’s release of iOS 9, which Apple is promoting as being “full of enhancements.” On a personal level, I was very interested to see what these “enhancements” were as I hated iOS 8 for no other reason than it ate up so much space. So, without further ado, here are some of the best and most important features of iOS 9:

Storage – As I mentioned, iOS 8 took up a significant hunk of storage – 4.6GB no less. This time around, iOS 9 takes a mere 1.8 GB, less than half its predecessor.

Battery Life – iOS 9 promises a full hour of additional battery life for your iPhone. Just as significant is “Low Power mode,” which will disable background features not needed for basic functionality and, in turn, give you 3 more hours of battery life once your phone reaches 20-10% of the full charge.

Passbook becomes Apple Wallet – Last October Apple introduced Apple Pay, giving users the ability to store credit cards, debit cards, and other payment data in the Passbook app, turning your iPhone 6 or Apple Watch into a virtual wallet at store checkouts. With iOS 9, Apple has added Discover to the list of cards that Apple Pay works with, as well as the ability to store specific rewards cards like Dunkin Donuts, Wegmans or Walgreens. In addition, users will be able to double tap the Home button when the iPhone is locked to use Apple Pay.

Proactive Assistant – Siri gets a major upgrade in iOS 9. Swipe left and Siri will bring up a list of frequently accessed contacts, apps, nearby places, news, and more. Search results will be contextual based on location, search history, and time of the day, enabling you to set location-based reminders like “Remind me to call the office when I get home.” Users will also be able search media based on dates, location or album titles, so you can ask Siri to “find videos I took in August 2014.”

As an added bonus, Siri will be able to identify incoming calls even if that contact detail is not already present in your contact book.

Maps – Instead of having to choose between driving, walking, or public transportation, Maps users will be able to combine modes. For example, if you’re taking the train into the city then hopping on the streetcar to reach your final destination, Maps will determine the most efficient route for both and provide those step by step directions we love. Some cities will have Transit detailing lines and stations and Nearby provides options for dining, sightseeing, shopping and entertainment.

Passcode – Lock screens will require a six-digit passcode to unlock your device, adding a million more possibilities to foil hackers. Users can divert back to the four digit code but why would you want to?

Search for options in Settings – If you’ve ever tried to remember where “Invert Colors” or some other useful but not necessarily frequently used feature can be accessed, you understand my excitement at the option to type a search term into Settings and be taken straight to the result.

iPad – With iOS 9, Apple finally allows iPad users Slide Over, Split View and Picture in Picture, features Android tablet users have loved for ages. Slide Over is self-explanatory, allowing users to slide over and open a second app without leaving the one currently being used. Split View, available for iPad Air 2, allows users to view apps side by side, and Picture in Picture allows users to watch a video, music clip or FaceTime and work on a secondary app at the same time.

Move to iOS – Finally, if you’re ready to take the plunge and switch from an Android or Windows phone to Apple, it’s never been easier. With iOS 9 you can download the Move to iOS app and wirelessly switch from another operating system. Within minutes you’ll securely download your contacts, messages, photos, videos, web bookmarks, mail accounts and other important data. Any free apps you had on your previous device that are available on iTunes are listed as suggested downloads and any paid apps are added to your App Store Wish List.

There are a host of other features in iOS 9: enhanced Car Play integrates third party apps from your car’s developer, Notes has been overhauled and now features a Sketch menu, and Newsstand has been replaced with an intuitive News App that learns your preferences and interests and gets better every time you use it. Apple is notorious for hype, but from my perspective this is one time they live up to it.

Apple will launch a public beta version of iOS 9 in July. You can sign up at beta.apple.com for a chance to test-drive this pre-release version. The full iOS 9 update will be available to all users in the Fall.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Toronto, ON. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances and researches on subjects from family and education to pop culture and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

Best Dr. Seuss Apps for the iPhone and iPad

By Tracey Dowdy

Oh the things that we find when we clean up a mess!
Oh the things you will find are often the best!
Like woozles and snoozles and other surprisles
Or stories and pictures by Theodore Geisel!

Okay, that last rhyme was a stretch but I like to think my attempt at rhyming would be appreciated by Dr. Seuss himself.  While clearing out his disused office in 2013, Geisel’s wife found a box of manuscripts and illustrations she had set aside years ago. Now, the Dr. Seuss foundation has announced a new book coming our way in July called What Pet Should I Get?

That’s great news for Seuss fans like me and apparently I’m not alone – currently three of his books are on USA Today’s best seller list: Green Eggs and Ham (#16), One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish (#19), and The Cat in the Hat (#35).

In honor of this news, and the fact that Dr. Seuss’s birthday is just around the corner on March 2nd – he’d be 111 years old – here’s a list of my favorite Dr. Seuss apps for the iPhone and iPad.

Dr. Seuss Bookshelf compiles all the Dr. Seuss books and games in one place. Sort by type, price or age or use the search feature to find exactly what you’re looking for. You can view apps on your device, see upcoming or new releases, or create a Favorites list (iPad only). (Free)

Dr. Seuss Treasury offers over 50 classic Seuss books in one app. Parents can track their child’s reading progress through statistics for the number of books read, hours of reading, word count, and the number of words tapped. Try it free for 7 days then choose to subscribe for a monthly or annual fee. ($4.99 per month, $49.99 per year, or $99.99 to purchase all 55 books)

Dr. Seuss Band turns your iPhone or iPad into a musical instrument. With two ways to play, you can compose your own wacky tunes with over 120 sounds to choose from or play along with Seussian soundtracks from The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham and more to gain high scores and unlock additional features. ($0.99 with additional in-app purchases)

Dr. Seuss Beginner Collections package ten interactive books into two bundles of 5 books each. Narration is highlighted so kids can follow along and users can record their own narration and share it with others. Vocabulary words and illustrations are tappable so kids can learn new vocabulary. ($14.99 each)

Dr. Seuss Camera is available in four versions: The Cat in the Hat, The Grinch, and Who Me? and Happy Birthday. Choose a picture from your photo library and transform yourself into a Who. You can change the background, clothing, hair, accessories or other features to create your own unique character. Photos can be saved or shared to social media directly from the apps. ($1.99 each)

Dr. Seuss Fun Machine Game is a companion to the Dr. Seuss Fun Machine Game Tiles available online or in stores. Three fun games challenge users to “guess-a-roo”, slap-down, or match the tiles with what’s on screen. There’s no reading required so it’s fun and accessible for all ages. (Free)

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Toronto, ON. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances and researches on subjects from family and education to pop culture and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

Manage Content, Not Screen Time

In the digital age, it’s  become conventional wisdom that too much screen time is a bad thing for  our kids. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that kids under  the age of two have no screen time at all, and that kids over two watch  no more than 1 to 2 hours a day.

Numerous studies have chronicled  both the rise in overall media consumption and the correlation between  too much screen time and poor academic performance. As a result, parents are constantly reminded to monitor screen time and restrict it as much  as possible.

Unfortunately, that’s becoming increasingly hard to  do. Think of all the screens that are now commonplace around the home.  There are multiple TVs of course, but then there might be desktop  computers, laptops, iPads, iPods, Kindles, smartphones, gaming devices –  the list is almost endless. Are all these screens equally bad or are  some screens worse than others?

The reality is that screens will be an increasing part of our kids’ lives, not less. Most schools now  schedule computer time at school. Some schools even make a point of  providing each child with a laptop and require them to be in use for  virtually every class.

The use of computers, iPads, and other  devices is even more pronounced at higher learning institutions, where a recent Associated Press poll found that the average students stares  into a screen for over 6 hours a day. (That’s nothing – I estimate that  on an average day, I’m looking at some kind of screen for at least 10  hours!)

So how do we decide good screen time from bad screen time?

Clearly it’s down to content. An hour spent prepping for a test on NationalGeographic.com is a totally different experience for a child than watching an hour of cartoons on Nickelodeon. An hour playing the Watch Dogs video game is clearly not the same as an hour reading a good book on a Kindle.

So the next time you worry about your child and too much screen time, stop to consider what kind of screen time they are experiencing. I don’t think it will ever be  like good cholesterol and bad cholesterol, but maybe there’s bad screen  time and not-quite-so-bad screen time!