This was a big week at Apple as they released their newest mobile operating system, iOS 7. Aside from its aesthetically pleasing new look, educators are in for a real treat with the functional changes that have appeared as well. Here’s a few that we found particularly relevant for our readers.
This feature will already be familiar to you if you’re a Mac user, now you can take the sharing capability of AirDrop on the road. Your students just took digital photos on a class trip and now everyone wants to share them with one another to create a travel brochure, or a term paper was assigned and you need all of your students’ submissions handed in. With the new iOS 7 AirDrop feature, you and your students can transfer files from one mobile device to another, or to multiple devices, all within seconds. In other words, the teacher has the ability to take a picture of a diagram or political cartoon that they want their students to annotate inside of another app, the teacher can seamlessly “airdrop” the picture to all the students in the classroom.
AirDrop is a great solution for schools that do not have iMessage or email configured on student assigned or shared iPads.
*AirDrop is available on iPad Retina, iPad mini, 5th generation iPod Touch, and iPhone 5 or newer.
2. Safari Enhancements
Safari on the iPad has always had some great features that support instruction. In iOS 7, there have been some new features added while others have been updated.
Unified search bar in Safari - Searching and typing website addresses is now all integrated into one place called the Smart Search Field. When you want to search, tap in the Smart Search Field and type in your search term. Those of you who are Mac users have seen this same feature for a while in Safari for OS X. It also auto-fills the addresses of sites you visit often. This can be a huge time saver, as students will be significantly less likely to mistype an often used web address.
Favorites and Bookmarks on any new tab - Tap on the “+” in the upper-right corner to add a new tab in the Safari browser and you’ll see all of the resources you’ve added to your Favorites Bar (formerly known as the Bookmarks Bar).
AirDrop a website - Sharing websites quickly in class gives both teachers and students the ability to collaborate more effectively. Once a member of the class receives a Safari link, it will open in that application.
Reader button - Teachers have always liked the fact that students could eliminate distractions when reading an article in Safari. The Reader button is now the black icon on the left-hand side of the Smart Search Field.
3. Siri and Languages
While it’s great to be able to change the gender of the Siri voice, ESL students and language teachers will love that Siri can also speak to you in 19 languages and dialects. This will make it easier for foreign language students to be immersed in the language they’re studying. When speaking to Siri in a foreign language, students will hear a reply in that same language.
*This feature is available on iPad Retina, iPad mini, 5th generation iPod Touch, and iPhone 4s or newer.
4. “Enhanced quality” on Speak Selection
One of our favorite features of the iPad is its ability to read selected text aloud, from nearly any app. Students can have books read to them, listen to their written work during an editing session, or hear how a word is pronounced. With the new Enhanced Quality feature, the fluency of the computer voice is greatly improved.
5. Automatic App Updating
Keeping apps updated for a group of iPads can be a daunting task, whether it’s a small group set, an entire class cart, or a school-wide implementation. This can be especially cumbersome if your students are taking their devices home. When paired with a mobile device management (MDM) system, whenever an update for an app is released, it will automatically be updated on the iOS 7 device, ensuring that both you and your students are always using the latest version available.
6. License Management for Apps
Control of app licenses and ownership is important in school districts. When the need arises to revoke an app license on one iPad for use on another, it can now be done wirelessly. For example, when a student who was in need of remediation supported through the use of an app no longer needs that app, instead of the license sitting unused, it can be assigned to another student.
7. Enroll students of all ages in iTunes U and iCloud
With parental consent, schools will be able to make it easier to obtain Apple IDs for students under the age of 13. With those IDs, students can receive licenses in the new volume purchasing program (VPP) and they can use their ID in iTunes U and for iCloud backups.
Which feature is your favorite and how do you see yourself using these in the classroom?