Sunday, February 23, 2014

Launch Center Pro: Speed Up Common Actions on iOS Devices

blue icon with rocket ship in the middleLaunch Center Pro is an app for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch that allows users to launch apps and simple tasks directly from the app. Instead of launching Safari, navigating to the search site, and typing in your search, for instance, Launch Center Pro lets you directly search Google or Wikipedia; Launch Center Pro also can be configured  by users to set up group email, instead of having to type in the email address of each recipient.

Launch Center Pro uses a simple interface to make it easy to simplify some of your common actions and launch them quickly. I frequently text my sister "where are you?" Instead of launching the Messages app, finding my sister's contact, and then typing the message, I created a Launch Center Pro action that sends a text to my sister saying, "where are you?" Now, when I want to text my sister, I just touch the icon for this action and a text saying "where are you?" is on its way to my sister.
Creating actions is easy with the built in action composer which gives users the ability to pick pre-made actions for apps they already have installed on their device. The action composer also allows users to customize the icon of the action to make it easier to find.

Launch Center Pro works with a number of apps, but support for more useful actions among third party apps is hit or miss. Some apps such as Prizmo integrate very well with the app allowing you to easily launch actions, but other apps such as Nike+ Running can be opened, but not further interacted with. It would be nice to be able to start a new run in Nike+ via Launch Center, but actions like that requires the developer to build special support for Launch Center Pro into their apps. Click here to view a list of the apps currently supporting Launch Center Pro.

I see Launch Center Pro as a great app for first time iOS users, and other individuals who struggle performing sequential functions. Launch Center Pro can make it easier for first time iOS users learn to use their devices. Instead of learning how to search Google, Wikipedia, Yelp, and Google Maps individually a simple search menu could be made with quick links to search all those services. In terms of accessibility for the blind and visually impaired, Launch Center Pro works well with VoiceOver and supports the Fleksy keyboard which is accessible.

Launch Center Pro costs $4.99 for the iPhone version and $7.99 for the iPad version. Click here to view the app for iPhone and click here to view the app for iPad. Click read more below to view screen shots of Launch Center Pro in action.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

What's on my iPad? Assistive Apps I Use as a Dyslexic Student

As a dyslexic high school student my iPad, with a number of assistive apps, has become a very valuable tool. With my iPad I can read and fill out a PDF using text-to-speech, read a book with Voice Dream Reader, or map out my ideas with Inspiration Maps. The iPad mini is a perfect size for my needs allowing me to read sitting up, or reclining comfortably while listening to a book. Before I got the iPad I would either be tied to a computer to read using text-to-speech, or reading on the tiny screen of my iPhone. Here's a list of my favorite iPad apps and how I use them to help me both in and out of the classroom.

Voice Dream Reader is a text-to-speech reading app that allows users to read a wide variety of files through the app. The app includes the ability to buy very high quality text-to-speech voices for use with the app. Voice Dream Reader allows you to highlight  important parts of a passage as you read along.. One of my favorite features is the ability to download and read Bookshare books from within the app. Currently  Voice Dream Reader does not support  Bookshare books with images, but hopefully will add that feature in the near future. In all Voice Dream Reader is a must have for anyone who prefers reading with text-to-speech.

Click here to read a full review of Voice Dream Reader.

Read2Go is another app for reading Bookshare books. Bookshare provides accessible digital books to members. Using Read2Go users to keep their books at their finger tips all the time. The app has a choice of two text-to-speech voices. While Read2Go does not have as many features as Voice Dream Reader the support it has for books with images is a plus.

Click here to read more about Read2Go.

The free Learning Ally Audio app allows Learning Ally members to download and listen to their audio books on the go. The app has useful features such as bookmarking and playback is easy to control and customize. Learning Ally is starting to add digital text to some of their books so users can follow along with the text while listening to the human narrated audio book.

Click here for more information about Learning Ally Audio app.

Click read more below to learn about many more great apps.