Monthly Archives: September 2014

UX Write and autocorrect while using an external wireless keyboard! (You heard it here!)

I can’t believe it’s true but autocorrect works while using an external keyboard with the UX Write app for iPad!! That’s right folks! For some reason this feature is not highlighted by its creator and it is nowhere to be found on the official website. Nor have I seen much mention of it in discussion forums about the impossibility of getting external keyboards to work with autocorrection even though this is exactly what everyone has been looking for. It is possibly the only writing productivity app that does this right now even in 2014.

On top of that it works in the free basic version! Wow!

Here are some of the other features which I have liked so far with the Basic Version:

  • fully .docx supported and save-able

  • Dropbox connectivity and navigation

  • Excellent cursor navigation system

One has to stunned as to why Apple’s Pages cannot do some or all of these things as well as UX Write. It may be well worth the money at $24.99 (or try for a one month subscription for $0.99). I am going to test some more before making the one-off payment. But what I have seen so far I think this one is a real winner.

List of JIS layout compatible apps for iPad

I have compiled two lists of apps which I use which are compatible and not compatible with JIS layout keyboards. It can be found here.

Is it really GoodNotes vs Notability?

I have been using both GoodNotes and Notability for a bit now. Both purchases were made after recommendations and some research. Most people seem to pit these two against each other as if they are rivals. But I beg to differ. I’ll tell you why at the end.

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GoodNotes was not made for typing

I like GoodNotes for many reasons but typing isn’t one of them.

Interestingly there isn’t even a button for text input in the toolbar (update: it’s buried deep in the “+” menu). To type text you need to hold a finger down somewhere on the page and select “text” from the popup menu. What you get then is a text-box. You can type what you want then save.

But because of this the text does not “flow” on the page. It doesn’t feel like a “notepad app” which is what taking notes should feel like. In other words GoodNotes is an annotation app for PDFs and not really for taking notes by typing. This is why the handwriting input system is its focus, not it’s typing input system. One can almost say the typing input was an afterthought to GoodNotes.

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Because it’s handwriting input system is so good you can use that independent of any PDF and handwrite on a blank page neatly and usefully. Combined with the latest feature — handwriting recognition — and you have an infinitely more useful productive app.

More on this later.

Using GoodNotes in the classroom

Recently I have been upgrading in the apps department to match my needs for English language teaching. By far the iPad is the best thing for presentation of teaching material on the big screen (the classroom projector screen, that is).

Having held back on forking out money for apps which do similar work to free ones I thought it was high time I tried some to see what all the hype is about.

One apps which I heard recommended over and over again is GoodNotes. Particularly it is the handwriting input system which has caught all the attention. And low and behold I wasn’t disappointed. The implementation of the handwriting by zoom input and auto-shifting (or auto-scrolling, call it what you like) is fantastic. And this works really well with its Presentation Mode which hides all your actions from the students makes it ideal as a teaching tool.

For me I mostly use the projector to show the textbook and teaching material (in PDF format) while we go through it. So being able to annotate there and then is all but crucial. My students love watching the action and it certainly has made my teaching much easier to follow since I use only English to my non-native students. So any instruction tend to be lost or difficult to follow for them.

Checking the answers with students has also made it much easier and more understandable since I can show students exactly where a problem might be for them. By filling in the answers in together as if directly into their textbooks or handouts students tend to respond much better than if checking the answers verbally only.

Ironically it is this aspect of my research about the importance of embodiment which has enhanced and informed my overall teaching skills.

(Not) using the Apple Wireless Keyboard (Japanese layout) with iPad Air

I keep coming back to this issue of pairing and setting up an external foreign language external keyboard with the iPad Air. The problem is not that it outright rejects such a keyboard but that it depends on a particular app’s ability to recognise it or not.

Strangely enough Apple’s very own wireless keyboard for its own desktop computer does not work alway recognise the keyboard. Apple of course seems to know how to make its own software to work but that is lost on third party app makers so that buying apps which rely on keyboard input (productivity apps, for example) could mean your input method may have to forego keyboard hardware (or else rely on your memory of where certain punctuations are).

Of course if you are using the virtual keyboard this is not a problem. But that makes my purchase of an external keyboard (an Apple one at that) seem downright silly and a waste of money.

Still nothing beats a physical keyboard for the input experience which why we still want to buy one. The ability to be wireless is again part of the deal. The hardware – an iPad with its minimalistic external keyboard – is just so sexy.

So why is it that Apple can’t get the software or OS right, least of all its own?