Category Archives: Apple Hardware

Apple Hardware

Quiet iPad changes at Apple

Over the last few weeks, Apple has quietly made some changes to the iPads that are available.  They quietly removed the 16GB  iPad 2 (which was selling for $399) and have replaced it with the 16GB 4th Generation iPad (Retina screen) for $399.

This is really an amazing thing; people generally thought that Apple couldn’t sell the Retina iPad at the $399 price point; and others thought that Apple kept the iPad 2 because of education–not so much price but for creating a common device in schools (if you have iPad 2s, you might not want 4th Generation iPads mixed with them).

So, as of today, you can go buy a brand new 4th Generation iPad for $399 in a 16GB configuration.  This is the device that many schools buy for their students (as it is the cheapest).  Refurbished iPad Airs (lighter, faster) are available now on the Apple Store (see this link).  So you can currently buy a refurbished iPad Air, which is twice as fast as a 4th Generation iPad, with 16GB of RAM and a 64 Bit Processor for $419, or a new 4th Generation iPad with 16GB  for $399.

If the iPad is for you, spend the extra $20 for the refurbished model.  Just trust me on this one.  And realistically, get at least the 32GB version for yourself.

Still…for schools that were just spending $499 per 4th Generation iPad this past fall, adding additional (new) models for $399 might be a wonderful thing.

Inspired

I was inspired last night by a new poster by Richard Wells at ipads4schools.org. The picture appears below and says so much, so simply (I have asked for permission to share this poster on my blog and in my books on Thor iBookstore). As a very important side note, Richard has a ton of wonderful iPad resources on his website.

I find myself continually speaking out against notebooks and Chromebooks, because they just don't fit in music classrooms (applications, SAMR, and other topics just further the argument). Clamshell computers leave music “out in the cold” when it comes to technology. As a result, I began drawing this image in response, really in alignment, with Richard's poster. It took two hours to draw my stick figures in ArtStudio on the iPad (the background is a real stage–I didn't draw it). Enjoy!

 

Two Weeks into a 1:1 iPad Deployment

At my new school, we are in our second week of a 1:1 deployment of iPads. We are a smaller middle school (for a metro area school) with under 800 students. Our district also deployed iPads at three elementary schools and one high school.

My role in the iPad initiative is end-user support; I help students and teachers attempt to solve problems as they arise. I am not a decision-maker, nor am I a device manager.

The iPads themselves are formatted with Configurator, each being loaded with Casper device management. Our model is to let each device stand on its own (not a fully managed model) and to open the device and all its features to our students. We have a robust firewall, and we are taking broad steps to teach all aspects of digital citizenship in this digital world.

As a result, each iPad has to be set up individually, preferably with the student's parent and/or guardian at hand. We have learned that you have to set the age of the user as the parent's age (most middle school students do not reach Apple's former and still current age minimum of 13). If you mess up that step, you are blocked later in the process. We have learned to use our own Google Apps e-mail addresses for Apple IDs, as well as to handle passwords.

After devices are completely set up, we have to run Casper on each device. Casper allows us to distribute apps to students using iTunes redemption codes.

The decision-makers made the (wise) decision to only purchase and install Notability on these iPads, as iOS 7 will allow MDMs (multi-device managers) such as Casper to reclaim codes–meaning that schools will no longer “burn” money on apps purchased for students that move on. Apple's event also confirmed a rumor that Apple's iWork and iLife apps would be free–we're not sure if we will qualify as Apple's terminology at the event stated that these would be free for “new iOS users.” There are a lot of schools that just bought iWork and iLife apps–and there are others that held off. They might as well just make iWork and iLife free for everyone (I don't even mind that I paid $40 for those apps 3 years ago).

Our district guru set the iPads to each have a passcode. That has been a bit of a bane for us, as students have been forgetting their codes. If they let us know early enough, the district guru can use Casper to unlock the device–but if students try until the device is disabled, the entire process has to be gone through again. This means reformatting with Configurator, setting up the iPad, and running Casper.

We have been told that everything will be changing with iOS 7…from set-up to management. I'll be writing about that later, as well as adding material to my iBook.

In choir, the iPads are working fine. I have decided to use Chromatik for three main reasons. First, it is free. Second, it allows for easy score distribution (there have been complications). Third, it has the basic features we need in choir.

With the middle school format, I see about 225 students over a two-day period…about 1/3 of the school, with a very small 8th grade class (that small enrollment will change next year, I believe). At this point, I have seen each choir four times (seven classes scattered over two days). The first day was introductions, the second day was setting up Chromatik, and the third day was having them share a folder with me in their Google Drive account. The most recent day has been dealing with stragglers with Chromatik and Google Drive, and then finally getting down to some singing (we have warmed up each day and did some sight reading).

Chromatik works pretty well for us, but we have run into some complications. First, our Google Apps address is ridiculously long (apps.district833.org). Students make mistakes typing this address ALL THE TIME. Because they created Chromatik accounts with this address, many errantly made accounts with the wrong address, and then had to create an account with the right address. Second, Join Codes work really well for distributing material Unfortunately, the program doesn't seem to refresh correctly (even if you pull to refresh) unless you log out and log in again. This is an issue if the student created an account with an incorrect Google Apps e-mail address or forget their password. Additionally, Join Codes require you to choose an instrument, and if you choose an instrument that isn't represented in the original file (e.g. “guitar” instead of “choir”), nothing appears (only instruments that have uploaded parts should appear in that dialogue box). Finally, the band director has discovered that although you can upload different parts, such as 1st Clarinet and 2nd Clarinet, both show up in Chromatik as “clarinet,” and in a playlist, you cannot choose one or the other–and weirdly only one of the parts will show up in Chromatik after choosing that part. So Chromatik needs to add a way to upload 1st Clarinet, 2nd Clarinet, and all “parts” instruments.

From a personal standpoint, I would like to see the addition of a red pen, the ability to pin an audio file to a part so that my students could access that audio file to practice, and the ability to turn a page with a touch on the left or right hand side of a page, rather than a swipe (Add the addition of parts for our band director).

But there is no other app that will do what Chromatik can do…which is to centrally manage the songs on a playlist that are shared with a student–and allow us to delete those apps later.

I have also learned a lot about Google Drive and sharing folders. It is incredibly easy to do this via the updated Google Drive app, but my students had an extremely hard time following instructions. I asked them to create a folder like this:

HourDay LastName First Name Choir

My folder would look like this: 1B Russell Chris Choir

This lets me organize the folders by hour, by name, and the “Choir” lets the students know what class the folder is for.

I can't tell you how many different kind of folders that were created: everything from “chior [sic]” to literally “HourDay LastName First Name Choir”

I kid you not.

Also, sharing was difficult because the Google Apps e-mail addresses do not auto-populate like they do on the web browser, so students had to type in my account name (presented to them on a screen). Apparently typing two “s's” or “l's” is really hard–and as I've mentioned already, typing apps.district833.org is an agonizing thing. Some kids never even made it to the sharing point, thinking it was automatically shared.

So, I learned to pull up my Google Drive while these folders were shared with me (or attempted to be shared with me), and reading off names as they appeared. By doing so, there was immediate feedback and I could help those that needed help.

So, we basically “lost” two days–one to set up Chromatik, the other to set up “Google Apps.” They say you have to go slow to go fast.

The other thing I have learned is that I need to make students put their iPads under their chairs during attendance, announcements, warm-ups, and sight reading. Otherwise, students are on their iPads. I let them take out the iPads once we get to music and I attempt to monitor appropriate use (they should be on Chromatik) as we rehearse. Most of them are good about it–but they do like to color with their highlighter, pen, and white out that come as a part of Chromatik in class. I can lock students into Guided Access as necessary down the road, but as for now, I need to be at the piano helping them learn rather than walking around the room.

iOS 7 is supposed to let a teacher take control over an entire class of iPads…this would be beneficial, and we'll see what happens.

I should also mention that the iPads are encased in a Griffin Survivor case…green and black for 8th Grade, all black for 7th Grade, and red and black for 6th grade.

I'll write more as things develop, but so far, so good.

Apple’s September 10th Event (2013)

Today Apple held its September 10th iPhone event, and nearly everything that I had come across from reputable sources turned out to be true.

iOS 7 comes out next Wednesday (the 18th), and orders for the new iPhones…the 5c and 5s…begin in the next weeks. iWork apps will be free on all new iOS devices.

I am looking forward to putting iOS 7 on my iPad, and I have a lot of questions that have not been answered, and will not be answered until we actually have iOS 7 “on hand.”

iOS 7 is promising a lot of features for education that are yet unclear as to how they will be handled (e.g. controlling a classroom set of iPads from a teacher iPad). I also want to know if the “lock” on saving music to the music player “storage” on the iPad has been removed. I would also like to see annotation in Keynote, as well as the ability to add audio to Keynote presentations.

As for the phones, my wife and I will be skipping the 5C and 5S, unless we purchase an iPhone for our thirteen year old son (we probably won't). The improvements are significant…a phone 2x as fast as the iPhone 5 is a fast phone; 64 bit processing is a big thing in terms of performance, and I would actually use the fingerprint sensor for my phone (I am one of the many users who does not have a lock code on my devices). A better camera (same resolution but better sensor) is also included. But we have a year to wait until our contracts are fulfilled, and we can wait for these items on our phones.

On an iPad, these things are another matter altogether. My iPad is my workhorse most of the time (even as I write this blog post). I do have to use my MacBook for some things, such as scanning music and music recognition software. But I quite literally do everything else on my iPad.

A speed increase of 2x on my iPad would be significant, and it would impact how I use my device. And the fingerprint sensor would be a welcome development.

Most interesting, however is a potential 64 bit processor for the iPad–this is significant because it means that eventually Apple will require a 64 bit processor to upgrade to the next version of iOS. Perhaps iOS 8 will avoid this, but I would wager that iOS 9 will require a 64 bit processor. So…my advice for a device at this point changes…I would not recommend an iPad of any kind unless it has a 64 bit processor, which we should see this fall. If you were planning on buying an iPad, I would wait. I could be wrong about this, and if the next iPad comes out without the 64 bit processor, feel free to buy it. But if we see such an iPad this fall…likely late October or early November…your wait will be rewarded with a device that should be upgradable through iOS 10.

Android and Music Education Apps

This post is a request for those of you who own Android devices.  I’ve been working on a new release of my book “Practical Technology for Music Education” which features “key” app lists for a number of devices, including Android.

I’m having a very hard time finding quality apps to recommend for Android.

My list, so far, includes:

  • Mobile Sheets
  • EZ PDF
  • iReal b
  • Cleartune
  • Remind 101
  • Class Dojo
  • Music Theory Lessons Pro

If I can be blunt, I’m looking for the great must-have apps, not just apps that have some component of music education in them.  The sort of apps that say, “Buy an Android tablet just because of this app.”

Yes, I’m an iPad owner and apologist; and no, I’m not asking that question in jest.  There might actually be apps on the Android platform that are unique, special, and powerful when on an Android device (note that a lot of my list includes apps that were iOS first).  I’ve been looking on the two app stores and scouring the web to find apps.  It isn’t easy.  Please, PLEASE e-mail me if you have suggestions.

I’ve been wondering why there hasn’t been an Android version of GarageBand from another developer.  The answer: latency seems to be an issue on Android devices.  Latency appears to be anywhere between 20 times (at best) and 60 times (on average) worse on Android than iOS.

Think I’m lying because I’m pro-Apple?  Don’t take my word for it:

http://www.synthtopia.com/content/2011/12/03/developer-it-is-not-possible-to-play-music-on-an-android-phone/

I didn’t realize this until I was surfing the web for my book.  I just thought that the device and OS fragmentation of Android devices–not to mention where the money in app development lies (iOS)–kept developers away from Android.

I think I had read somewhere that Miselu, the creators of the upcoming C.24 keyboard, were originally trying to design products for Android.  Now I know why they chose to abandon that effort and to move to iOS.

I can’t fathom why Apple would have put a focus on low latency, and why Android would let their devices have high latency.  I don’t see Apple touting iOS as being better for musicians (they certainly could); low latency is almost an afterthought on their part…something that occurred just because they did other things right.

So…if you are an Android owner/fan, and you are a musician…it looks like you won’t be getting any “serious” music apps (note: music playback and music playing are two different things) any time soon. I’m not picking on you; I’m just rather shocked to learn about this.

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