The One App I Can’t Live Without

app you cant live without

Recently, at the #iPadU conference, I was challenged to think about the one app I couldn’t live without. This was harder than I thought it might be. I mean, there are a lot of apps I really like, but are there any that I couldn’t live without, or at least be able to find some kind of passable replacement for? After some consideration, I decided that there was such an app, and that it really was quite unique in what it offers students, teachers and just about everyone else. That app, is the Camera app.

In many ways it is more than just an app, because it is now an essential hardware feature, but many people forget that when the iPad was first introduced in April 2010, there was no camera. Even today, there are those that still laud the introduction of the original iPad as a new era for computing, but for me, the iPad 2 was far more important than the one that came before it. When the iPad 2 was announced a year later, it had a two cameras – one on the front and one on the back.  The addition of these cameras opened up a whole new world for what was actually possible with an iPad, and quickly turned this mobile tablet from a consumption device to a creation device. It transformed the iPad into something infinitely more appealing and opened the doors for developers to create some amazing apps. Continue reading “The One App I Can’t Live Without”

5 Creative Graphic Design Apps for iPads

iPad Graphic Design Apps

Are you ready to harness your inner designer? Today it is easier than ever thanks to a variety of easy to use graphic design apps for the iPad. These “text on photos” apps are increasingly popular and many of them do a great job of simplifying the design process for non-designers. They could be a great platform for exploring visual literacy and visual design in the classroom, or simply to spice up your social media presence. I myself have quite a few of these kinds of apps on my iPad so I thought I would take some time to share five of my favorites together with some of the reasons I like them.

1. Canva (Free with in-app purchases)

If you’ve heard of any of these apps before, you probably heard of Canva. It is available on the web, and for the iPad, and is a great way to get started creating fun, fresh looking images. Canva has a number of templates you can use (some free, some paid) and bucket loads of inspiration. I particularly like the icon gallery and the free image search, although I will often use sites like Unsplash too and bring those into Canva. This app is perfect for social media graphics, posters, presentations, blog post images and even infographics. There are also some great lesson plans for teaching design in your classroom that were written by educators like Vicki Davis, Monica Burns, Steven Anderson and more. The only real downside to Canva is that you need an account to use the app and that it is designed to be a service for those 13 and older.

canva for ipad

2. Adobe Spark Post (Free)

Adobe Spark Post is a relatively new app for the iPad, but it has been available for iPhone users for a while now. In many ways it is quite comparable to Canva, but it has a few neat features that are well worth exploring. For instance, if you have a graphic you want to share on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, Adobe Spark Post can automatically adjust your design so that the image is optimally sized for each social network. It also lets you change themes and color palettes at the touch of a button or add life to your design by saving it as a stylish animated GIF. There is a library of public domain images that you can search through and use in your designs, but you can just as easily use photos from your Camera Roll too. It is a lot of fun to play with and can also be accessed on the web at spark.adobe.com. A free Adobe account is required to use any of the Adobe Spark apps.

Adobe Spark Post

3. Word Swag ($3.99 with in-app purchases)

I have been using Word Swag for a little while now, but I was hesitant to purchase it because it was $3.99 AND has in-app purchases. As it happens, there is a LOT you can do with just the initial purchase. You really don’t need to buy anything extra, and some of the in-app purchases are actually free right now and have been for a some time. Word Swag integrates with Pixabay so that you can search for Creative Commons Zero images that you want to use in your design, but you can also choose from a number of solid, textured and gradient images without any searching at all. There are a huge variety of font styles to choose from and a variety of filters and font color effects. However, there is no real way to crop or resize your image. There is a Twitter Preview Area, but that is about the only guidance you get before you share online. That said, it is still a great app that produces some stunning images, and if you like inspirational quotes, you will love the built-in quote generator. Word Swag is also available for Android.

Word Swag for iPad

4. Over (Free with in-app purchases)

If you are hesitant about paying the $3.99 for Word Swag, try Over. I know it has a lot of in-app purchases, but again you get a decent amount for free, and you can collect free artwork every day just by accessing the free artwork gallery in the app. Over has some pretty robust photo editing tools that can be used to tweak photos from Unsplash, Pixabay, or from your Camera Roll. It has filters, blurring tools, shapes, fonts, artwork and more. However, I think it was a paid app when I first downloaded it so I am not sure how many of the features I enjoy are now listed as in-app purchases. For instance, features like the crop tool that lets you size an image for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram & much more, is currently a 99c add-on, but I know I never paid for that. Still, there is a lot to like in the Over app and I do find myself going back to it more than I thought I would. It is a versatile app with some interesting creative options. Over is also available for Android.

Over for iPad

5. Studio Design (Free)

Studio Design is an app that I came across while researching what I was going to include in this blog post. I haven’t used it a whole lot, but based on the time that I have spent using it, I think it is worthy of inclusion here. It does many of the same kind of things that other apps in this category do, but perhaps most interesting to me was the ability to remix designs from other people. When you do this, the camera on your device opens with the fonts and other layers overlaid on your screen so that you can compose and take your own picture. For me, that had a lot of interesting creative opportunities and it models good digital citizenship because  published designs include a credit for the original designer. The app is 100% free, does not require you to set up an account, and has plenty free artwork that you can download. Studio is also available for Android.

Bonus Pick: Notegraphy (Free)

Looking to display some longer forms of text? If so, Notegraphy is worth a look. Simply type or copy and paste the text you want to beautify, then choose from a number of stylish themes that can be used to showcase your words. It is a little more restrictive than some of the apps above in terms of features, but there is something to be said for simplicity. It can also be used on Android and on the web at notegraphy.com.

Further Research

Some other apps that I have not yet had the chance to try, (but would like to), include Typic, Uptown & Co, Retype, Typorama, Rhonna Designs and Path On. Have you tried any of these graphic design apps for the iPad? If so, which ones are your favorites?

How (and Why) to Compress Video on iPads & iPhones

compress video ipad

Do your videos take a long time to upload to YouTube? Does the iOS Mail app refuse to send your large videos? If so, you should consider a video compression app for your iPad or iPhone. The job of a video compressor is to make your file sizes smaller so that they are easier to work with or share with other people.  Today I am going to show you one that I use and give you some tips on how to get the most out of it.

Why Use a Video Compression App?

Today there are lots of reasons why you might want to compress a video that you have on your iPhone or iPad. Smaller videos are easier to share with others whether that is via YouTube or simply to upload as a student assignment via Showbie or an LMS. Storage space is another good example of why you might want to compress videos. If you have a 16GB iPad (or iPhone) then free space is increasingly a problem. Compressing a video lets you keep a more friendly file-sized version on your device so that you can backup or remove the original. In schools, this can be a common problem.

If students are working on a shared video project, or filming with multiple devices, smaller video files are easier to transfer from one device to another via AirDrop or cloud services. They are also more email friendly because you can usually reduce them below the maximum file size limits found in most email services.

Video Compression Apps for the iPad & iPhone

The app I have been using for compressing video on an iPad or iPhone is called Video Compressor – Just Set the Target Size! It’s a free app and a useful one to keep on your iOS device for those times when you really need it. Best of all, the app is really easy to use. Simply select the video you want to compress, and move the slider to select the file size you would like to achieve, (also shown as a percentage reduction). Compressed videos are saved to the Camera Roll alongside the original video. This means you effectively have two copies of the same video, but the file size of one will be significantly smaller than the other.

Compress Video - Just Set the Target Size

The Downsides of Using a Video Compression App

Of course, everything has a downside. When you compress a video you are making a compromise between quality and file size. The more you compress a video, the more artifacts you will see on the final product. This means a video that has been compressed a lot could appear fuzzy or grainy when viewed full screen or on high resolution screens. So, it is a bit like limbo dancing. You have to think about how low can you go before things start to get out of control! 🙂

Often this comes down to trial and error as you work between what file size you need versus how much resolution you need. However, it could also come down to what your end goal is. For instance, is your goal to share an HD video at the highest quality, or are you just looking to share a first cut with an instructor or peer in order to get their feedback on your early edit? This is an important distinction to make, but the results you get from compressing a video may be better than you think if you are judicious with your use of the Target Size slider.

Should You Compress Videos?

At the end of the day, it comes down to what your needs are and how important it is to have the full resolution in your final videos. If you use services like Google Photos to back up your media, you are already compressing your photos and videos to a smaller file size if you opted for unlimited online storage, (like most people do). Google says that if your video is 1080p or less, it will look “close to the original” when uploaded to Google Photos. Ultimately that is what I aim for if I ever have to compress an iPad or iPhone video, but 720p is very usable too, especially if YouTube is the final destination.

Of course,  a good way to avoid compressing videos is editing. When you edit video on the iPad you have the chance to cut down the length of your videos, which will in turn cut down the file size of your videos. Shoot short, and edit tight. Nobody really wants to watch a ten minute video so if you can, try to aim for two to three minutes at the most on your finished, edited project. Otherwise, compression is a valid option. I don’t compress videos often, but when I do, this is the app I use.

Splice by GoPro: A Great Free Video Editor for iPads

splice ipad

While preparing a workshop for teachers on iPad movie making, I was reviewing my top picks for free iPad video editors. One of my early favorites, the Clips Video Editor, is apparently no longer available because the developers got bought out by Google and their apps have been removed from the App Store. So, as I looked for a replacement I came across Splice. This app has been around for a while but I was pleased to see it now includes a iPad version and a much improved user interface. The app was recently acquired by GoPro, but can be used to edit any video footage on your iOS device.

Splice lets you create videos, or photo slideshows, with no time limits, ads or watermarks. It also has an impressive list of editing features that include:

  • Trim, cut, crop photos and videos
  • Choose from a selection of lens filters for special effects
  • An impressive library of free soundtracks and sound effects
  • The ability to record your own voiceover narration
  • The option to overlay and mix multiple audio tracks
  • Ken Burns pan and zoom effect
  • Control over video playback speed – slow motion or super fast!
  • A collection of professional looking video transitions
  • Text overlays for photos or videos

splice ipad

The interface may take a little getting used to, but I found it pretty intuitive and easy to learn. It is different from iMovie, but different in a good way. Everything feels very modern and fresh. There is a great built-in, searchable help menu that can be used to find the features you want, but it is largely text based. A few screenshots here would add a lot to the usefulness of the help screens.

Finished videos can be shared in a number of ways. There is built-in support for direct uploads to YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, but you can also save to the camera roll or activate the “Open in” app picker to choose another app like Drive or Dropbox. However, perhaps most interesting is the ability to share via a link. When you choose this option, your video will be uploaded to GoPro’s servers and you will be given a link to the video that you can share with others. Only those with the link can access the video, and no account or login is required in order to share your video this way. Here’s a link to my sample Splice video. (Note: You can turn the GoPro outro on or off as required. In this case I chose to leave it on).

splice video editor

Any drawbacks? GoPro state that some features require newer devices and the latest version of iOS. As yet, I have not been able to uncover what those are, but no doubt time will tell. There are no themes like you might find in iMovie, and you can’t adjust how long text appears on a video clip. Once you add it, the text is there for the whole clip, just like it is in iMovie, unless you split the clip and only add text to the part you need. Finally, when in landscape mode, the narration button is harder to find than it should be. You need to tap Audio tab and then scroll up with one finger to reveal the additional audio track on the timeline.

Otherwise, if you are looking for a free video editor for your iPad, Splice by GoPro is well worth a look because it’s a powerful video editor that works really well on the iPad. I will definitely use it more in the future because I love the design of the app and the way everything is laid out. Below is a sample video that I put together in Splice with Creative Commons Zero video clips sourced from www.pixabay.com.

How to Use Q&A in Google Slides for iPad & iPhone

Google Slides Q&A

When Google Slides first came out, I wasn’t very kind in my review of all that it could do (or not do). However, the iOS app has seen a lot of improvements and today Google released a brand new feature that will be great for classrooms and presenters everywhere – a live question and answer module that lets an audience ask and vote on questions they would most like you do address. Here’s how it works.

When I first tried out this feature, I couldn’t find how to activate it. My app was up to date, but there was nothing in the menus that indicated how to start a Q&A session. Turns out, there is something you need to know first. The Q&A feature is only available when your iPad is connected to a projector or other external device. This means you need to mirror your iPad via Airplay, or use a VGA adapter to connect to the display you want to present on. You will not be able to access Q&A unless you are connected to an external display.

Step 1: Connect your iPad to the projector or external display.

Step 2: Launch the presentation you want use, and tap the play arrow from the toolbar. In the drop-down menu, choose to Present to an external display.

Present to external display

Step 3: Once you are in presenter mode, tap the Q&A icon in the top right-hand corner of the screen to open the Q&A menu.

Q&A button

Step 4: Tap START NEW to start a new Q&A session.

Start new Q&A

Step 5: If you are a Google Apps for Education user, or a Google Apps business user, you will have the option to limit questions to people within your organization, but if you select Anyone, everyone in the audience, regardless of whether they have a Google account or not, can ask or vote on questions.

Question permissions

Step 6: Once you have set the permissions you want, click the back arrow in the top left-hand corner of your screen to return to your presentation. At this point, you see the presenter mode, and the audience sees your first slide with a banner along the top that has a URL for them to visit on their device in order to enter questions and vote on questions submitted by others.

Presenter View Google Slides iPad

Step 7: When a new question arrives, you will see a number appear on the Q&A icon in the top right-hand corner of your screen. Tap the number to see the questions that have been asked.

Step 8: To address a specific question with your audience, tap on it. This changes the audience view from your current slide to a full-screen view of the question you selected, as well as the name of the person that asked the question, (so long as they signed in with their Google account before asking the question). If the user does not sign in before asking a question, they will be listed as Anonymous.

Audience Question

Step 9: If the audience members have voted on questions, the ones with the most votes appear at the top of your list, (a la Google Moderator). Every question you answer/address is highlighted with a checkmark so you can see which ones you have answered and which ones you have not got to yet.

Step 10: When you exit your presentation, you can tap the three dots in the top right-hand corner of the app and access Q&A History. This shows you all the questions that were asked during the presentation. The entries are time stamped so that if you gave the same presentation on different days, you will be able to see what was asked for each day.

The video below show the Google Slides Q&A in action:

3 MORE Top Tips for Green Screen Classrooms

3 more green screen tips(1)

Some time ago I wrote a blog post entitled 3 Top Tips for Green Screen Classrooms. It proved to be a popular post, so I thought it was time to do a follow up with three MORE top tips that you can use in your classroom when embarking on multimedia green screen projects. So, take a look at the ideas below, and feel free to submit your top tips in the comments below.

1. Add Logos to Images and Videos

Green Screen by DoInk lets you add up to three layers of media to each project. Think of these like the foreground, the middle ground, and the background. Often, we just use two of these layers – one for the live camera and the other for the background – but that third layer can be very useful for branding, a watermark, or even your school logo. Simply add it to your foreground layer, resize it, and position it to where you would like it to appear on the screen.

This is ideal for adding logos at a conference you are running, or simply to add a channel number icon to your news broadcast. Any image will work here but transparent PNGs (images with no background layer) will add an additional air of authenticity. Create your own and export them to the camera roll with Paper53 or search for Vector images at Pixabay.com.

logo watermark

2. Use a Tripod

This is a very quick and easy way to make your videos look more professional. Shaky camera work, especially on a green screen video, can be quite disorientating for the viewer so the steadier the better. Thankfully, this is not as expensive as you might think. The Padcaster is a great setup, but it’s not within everyone’s budget. However, the Makiyama Movie Mount is a decent option. Amazon is full of affordable iPad holders that cost even less and they will easily mount to any standard camera tripod. Many will even work without removing the case you have your iPad housed in so be sure to look for those too if you need that flexibility.

tripod-

3. Get More Green Cloths

If you only have one green screen, you’re missing out on some creative opportunities. Ever wanted to fly like Superman or float like an astronaut? Cover a table, or some sturdy boxes, with an extra green cloth and you can take to the skies with the magic of green screen. When Halloween comes around you can use that extra green screen cloth to have fun with a disembodied head simply by wrapping the cloth around you like a cloak! For a less morbid example, you could try adding your head to Mount Rushmore! You could even try a mixed media example like this one on human anatomy.

fly green screen

BONUS TIP: Experiment With The Masking Tools

If you ever find that your green screen is not quite big enough, or there is a stubborn area of your background that you just can’t fix, then the masking tools are for you. They let you mask out areas of your scene that you don’t want to show on your final product. Simply tap the mask icon to get started and use any of the the eraser or shape tools to define an area that you want to mask. Anything that is underneath that layer will be transparent.

In the example where your green screen is too small, select the live camera view, then use the masking tools to “paint” the area outside of your green screen. This creates a mask that will now show your chosen background media instead of the classroom walls!

Of course, the masking tools can be used creatively too. If you don’t have another green cloth on hand, the masking tool could be use in place of that. Or, as you can see below, it could even be used to show two videos side by side! 🙂

Side by Side

5 Video Tutorials for Green Screen App By Do Ink

Green screen tutorials

I am a big fan of using green screen in the classroom. My favorite app for doing that is the Green Screen app by Do Ink, so you can imagine how happy I was to see these new green screen tutorial videos from Do Ink that show you various ways to use the app. Each video is short and to the point. They are a great way to learn the app, or to share with others that are interested in getting started with green screen on the iPad. Take a look! The videos are embedded below.

How to Combine, Trim and Save Two Videos

Just getting started with green screen? Then this is the video tutorial for you. It shows you the basics of how to combine your green screen video with a background of your choice, as well as how to save and export your finished video. Easy, right?

How To Use All 3 Layers in the Green Screen by Do Ink app

Wondering what you can do with all three media tracks? In this video you can see a quick demonstration of how (and why) you can use all three tracks to make a multimedia video that is layered with different tracks. It sounds hard, but it is easier than you think.

How to Change Position, Size and Orientation of Images

I find that this is something people discover by accident, but it is a very useful skill to know when using the Green Screen by Do Ink app. With a couple of pinch and drags you can easily scale and move your images to position them exactly where you want them on the screen. The same technique works with pre-recorded video.

How to Crop Images, Videos and Live Camera

The crop tool is a powerful way to deal with smaller green screens, or bad framing when capturing the original photo or video. Why? It lets you crop out areas of the image that you don’t want to appear in your final video. Here’s how to do it.

How to Use the Mask Tool to Create a Moving Newspaper

This is my favorite of all the videos. It shows you how to create an animated newspaper that looks like it fell straight off the set of a Harry Potter movie. This could be a great way for students to interact with local or national news and give their opinions on hot topics. It could also be ideal for historical perspective pieces with archive images of newspapers from the past. This green screen video tutorial is quick and easy to follow.

Are you using green screen in your classroom? What tutorials would you like to see next?

Top Tips for Managing Photos on iPad & iPhones

Top Tips forManaging Photoson iPads & iPhones

At first glance, the Photos app on iOS does not look to have changed that much in recent software updates. However, if you dig a little deeper you will soon find a lot of useful shortcuts for managing photos on your iOS device. For this post I am going to give a shout out to Fraser Speirs (@fraserspeirs) and Federico Viticci (@viticci) because of their recent episode on this very topic over on the Canvas podcast. Some of these tips I had known about before, but a couple were brand new to me, so here are the best of the best.

Quick Select

In the past, when people have brought me their iPads and asked if there was a quick way to remove multiple photos and videos at once, I would have said no. However, I now know better. There is still no option to “Select All” but there is a faster way than manually tapping individual photos. Here’s how it works.

When you are in the Camera Roll, tap Select in the top right-hand corner of the screen, then select multiple photos (or videos) by pressing and dragging your finger across the screen to select multiple items. Alternatively, you can press and hold on a photo or video on the far left of the screen and drag your finger down the left-hand side to select entire rows at a time. Once you have selected the ones you want to delete, tap the trash can to remove them.

The Recently Deleted Album

Speaking of deleted photos and videos, did you know that they are not deleted immediately? Photos and/or videos that you choose to delete are moved to a special album called Recently Deleted. They will stay here for at least 30 days, just in case you have a change of heart and decide to restore them to the camera roll. However, if you so choose, you can navigate to this album and delete the contents manually at any time. Simply tap Select, and then Delete All.

recently deleted

Searching Photos

Can’t find the photo you are looking for? The magnifying glass at the top of the screen will let you search through the photos on your iPad or iPhone. Simply type the name of  the location you are looking for, or the date that you think it was captured, and your device will give you a page of search results based on your query. See the video below for how that works. You can search photos in iOS 8 or later.

Filter Your Favorite Photos

Ever wondered what the heart was for when viewing a photo or video? Tapping the heart marks it as a favorite, and automatically adds it to an album called Favorites. This lets you keep track of all the images that you want to access quickly or find without too much scrolling around when importing an image into another app.

Create a Folder for Photo Albums

This one is new to me, but it is kind of hidden by default so I have no idea how you would find it if someone didn’t tell you it was there. You can create folders in the Photos app to house multiple photo albums, just like you would on your home screen with multiple apps. To create a folder, open the Photos app and tap on the Albums tab. Then press and hold the “+” sign in the top left-hand folder and you will see an option for New Folder. Give your folder a name, then tap Save.

new folder

You can’t move existing albums to a folder, but you can add new albums inside this folder and transfer any images from your Camera Roll that you want to include in this new organizational system. Once you have moved everything over, you can delete your other albums, safe in the knowledge that you are not deleting any photos, just an organizational structure for them.

iCloud Photo Sharing

This is something that I experienced recently when I attended the Apple Educator Training program. We created a shared iCloud photo album that all participants could add photos and/or videos to throughout the day. Anyone who has the album shared with them can “like” or comment on anything that is added to it. This could be a great way to share learning and collaborate on photo and video projects, and to provide feedback in a virtual gallery walk style. Shared albums can even be shared as a website for anyone to view. iCloud Photo Sharing requires an Apple ID and more information on that can be found here.

Edit With Another App

The Photos app has a number of useful editing options for images, but it only does so much. What if you wanted to add a frame from Pixlr, a vignette from Photoshop Express or add some text from the Awesome Screenshot app. You can do all that from inside the Photos app. Simply tap on the photo you want to modify and then tap Edit in the top right-hand corner. In the editor, tap the three dots (see below) to choose an app that you want to borrow some editing features from. If you don’t see the one you want, tap More and toggle the switch next to the app you want to appear in this menu. Once you are finished, tap Done to return to the iOS editor.

photo editor apps

For more tips and tricks on how to manage photos on your iOS device, check out the excellent Canvas podcast from Fraser Speirs and Federico Viticci on Relay FM.

Review: Magic Adblock for iPad Classrooms

adblock for ipad

Magic Adblock, for iPad or iPhone, is a free ad blocking app that can eliminate ads from your iOS browsing experience. For teachers in the classroom, this can be a great way to reduce distractions and help reduce confusion online. However, blocking ads is just one of the things it does to protect your online privacy. So, here’s how it works and how you can take advantage of an ad blocking app on your iPads at home or at school.

Why Use an Ad Blocking App for iPads and iPhones?

Ad blockers have been around for a long time on desktop machines, but they have only recently been made available for iOS users. Why should you use one? The developers of these apps tout many advantages for the end user. They include:

  • A cleaner online browsing experience
  • The elimination of tracking and malware scripts
  • Faster browsing (because you are not waiting for ads to load)
  • Less cellular data usage
  • Better battery life
  • Blocking adult websites

What You Need to Know Before You Install the App

From the outset, you should know that ad blockers only work on iOS devices that are running iOS 9 and later. So, make sure your iPad software is up to date before trying to use any kind of ad blocking apps, (Settings > General > Software Update).

You should also know that ad blocking apps only work in Safari because this is all that Apple has allowed. If you use Chrome for iPad or another application that has ads built-in, then apps like Magic Adblock for iPad will have no effect. However, if you do a lot of web browsing or research in Safari, then you can absolutely take advantage of ad blocking software.

How to Set Up an Ad Blocking App on the iPad & iPhone

  1. Open your Settings app
  2. Scroll down and tap on Safari
  3. On the right-hand side of the screen, tap on Content Blockers
  4. Toggle the switch next to Magic Adblock for iPad to make it green
  5. Return to Safari and test it on a website of your choice

Adblock settings in iOS

What To Do If Webpages Don’t Load Properly

It doesn’t happen very often, but occasionally you will come across a website that doesn’t render very well when you have Magic Adblock installed.  However, there is a very quick fix for this. All you have to do is press and hold on the refresh arrow in the address bar of Safari. This lets you choose to reload the current page without your ad blocker. This won’t turn off ad blocking in your Settings, but it will temporarily disable it so that you can view this specific website with all ads enabled.

Reload Website Without Content Blockers

Are Ad Blockers Legal?

Legal? Yes. Ethical? It depends on who you talk to. The majority of the Internet that we all know and love is really only accessible for free because of the revenue that is generated by online ads. If everyone used an ad blocker on all their devices, and at all times, then it is almost certain that we would have to pay for a lot more of the web than we might want to. Companies like Google make a lot of their revenue from selling ads online. Many other companies do too. If this concerns you, there is the option in the Settings of Magic Adblock for iPad to whitelist sites that you still want to show ads on. This is a good way you can support the sites that you appreciate the most.

Why Should You Use Magic Adblock for iPad?

I have been using Magic for a while now and have been impressed by how well it performs. It loads sites very quickly and blocks a very high percentage of online ads. It gives websites a cleaner format that makes them easier to read, and there are far less distractions or unsuitable content displayed on the screen when using iPads with students. Best of all, Magic is 100% free! There are no in-app purchases.

There are, of course, a variety of other ad blocking apps for iOS available in the App Store. Crystal is a decent alternative. I used it for a while when it first came out. It costs you 99c and has very much the same feature set as Magic. However, I have found Magic was far more reliable. Crystal did not block as many ads for me, and some sites like Amazon did not always load when it was enabled in Safari.

1Blocker is another app you could consider. It is free, with the option of an in-app purchase, and differs from Magic because it has a much more granular approach. It gives you greater control over what you block and what you don’t. For many people this app may be more than you need, but if you want this level of control, then this could be the app for you. For everyone else, Magic Adblock for iPad will do just fine!

magic ipad adblock

Mark Up PDFs With Apple’s Mail App for iPad & iPhone

pdf mail markup

There are undoubtedly many great PDF annotation apps for the iPad and iPhone. I own many of them. Apps like PDF Expert, Notability, iAnnotate and Foxit PDF are great options, but you don’t always need such a full featured app. Sometimes you just want to do some quick markups to a document and send it back to the person who emailed it to you. For occasions like this, you can use the Apple Mail app in iOS 9 or later.

How to Annotate PDFs With the iOS Mail App

1. Open your Mail app and tap the PDF icon in your message to open a full screen preview.

2. Tap the screen again to reveal the toolbar at the top of the screen, then tap the toolbox.

toolbox mail icon

If the PDF appears as a live preview in your email, press and hold on the image view of the PDF and select Markup and Reply.

markup and reply

3. Use the annotation tools at the bottom of the screen to markup your PDF.

pdf markup tools mail ios

4. There are a variety of tools available for marking up your PDF. They include a pen tool, a text tool, and the option to add your handwritten signature. You can adjust the font, font size and font alignment as well as the pen color and thickness. There is even a magnifier tool that can be resized and used to call out areas of the document by making them larger.

5. When you are finished, click Done in the top right-hand corner of the screen and the annotated PDF will be added to an email that is pre-populated with the original sender’s email address. You can now add a quick message and send it straight back to the sender for their attention.

Possible Uses for the iOS Mail App Annotation Tools

Perhaps the most obvious use for these tools is to electronically sign documents. This is an increasingly common need and although there are 3rd-party apps to help you do this, nothing would be faster than doing it in the Mail app and sending it right back to the sender.

Teachers could use this tool to markup and give feedback to students on the 1st draft of an essay or another type of assignment that was emailed to them on their iPad. However, students could also use it to email ideas and drafts of group projects back and forward to each other, or as part of a peer review process.

Bonus Tip: iTunesU

Many of the markup tools also appear when you view a PDF inside an iTunesU course. This means teachers could add a PDF for students to annotate and turn in as an assignment. The PDF could be blank and students could use it as a whiteboard for working out Math or Science problems. It could be a map, a graphic organizer, a handwriting guide, graph paper, or any number of other things. The built-in tools can then be used to mark-up the PDF so it can be turned in to the teacher for grading or review.