Saturday, November 22, 2014

iOS8 Features for (Special) Education

The following lists some of the new features I have found through various sources that would be good for the classroom iPad. Many of the features improve the accessibility of the iPad for some disabilities.

Speak Screen

When Speak Screen is turned on, using a two-finger swipe from the top of the screen (or using Hey, Siri, see next item), will start a screen reader that will read back everything readable on that screen, like unlocked text and some buttons, while highlighting each word as read. You can pause, change speed, go back, using the buttons on the Speak Screen control panel. Helpful for struggling readers or those with vision problems. On/off switch in Accessibility Settings/Speech.

Hey Siri!

When your iPad is plugged into power, you can summon Siri with your voice (like OK, Google) without holding the home button, then use Siri to open apps. It can also be used to activate Speak Screen (above) instead of using swipe, just say Hey Siri, then Speak Screen.

Safari Reader

 Before Safari Reader applied       After Safari Reader applied  

Safari Reader reduces the visual clutter on a web page by removing distractions. It strips away ads, buttons, and navigation bars, allowing you to focus on just the content in an article. Just tap the horizontal lines to the left of the URL. Text size can be changed as well. Safari Reader also works in conjunction with Speak Screen.

Word Prediction

Word prediction is now integrated into iOS 8. Words appear at the top of the keyboard. It suggests words and phrases based not just on to whom you’re writing, but also in what app you’re writing. Easy for switch users to scan to and select.


Dictation lets you speak to type. Tap the microphone button on the keyboard, say what you want to write, and your iOS device converts your words (and numbers and characters) into text now with real time feedback, so you can see errors in transposition immediately.

New Search Engines

Safari lets you change the default search provider for the first time. DuckDuckGo (which doesn’t track your browsing), Yahoo and Bing as alternatives to Google search, which you can find in the Safari section of the Settings app.


Recover Deleted Photos

Photos that are deleted will be saved in a separate folder for 30 days. Nice way to recover accidentally deleted photos!

Photo Timer

Tap the timer icon that appears by the on-screen shutter button to choose between a three second and a ten second delay.

Change photo exposure

This may be useful in low lit classrooms. When taking a picture, tap the screen and a sunlight icon appears next to the focus frame—slide this up or down with your finger to change the exposure level and the amount of light let into your shot.

Shoot Time lapse video

Open the Camera app and use the slider to select Time Lapse. It captures one frame of video every second. Time lapse videos could be used to shoot the class working on a project, or to see a class pet's movements.

Alternative Keyboard Apps

iOS8 allows installation of third-party keyboard apps. You can pick up Swype for $0.99, or SwiftKey for free, both of which learn how you type.  More to come too.

Guided Access Enhancement

With iOS 8, you can now set time limits on how long an app is locked and lock the iPad when time is up.

Font Adjustments

When you activate Larger Dynamic Type, the text inside a range of apps in iOS 8 including Calendar, Contacts, Mail, Messages, Music, Notes and Settings, and even some third party apps, is converted to a larger, easier‑to‑read size.


Invert Colors and Grayscale


If a higher contrast or a lack of color helps you better see what’s on your display, iOS lets you invert the colors or enable grayscale onscreen. Once you set your filter, the settings apply system wide, even to video, so you get the same view no matter what you’re seeing.


The zoom options in iOS 8 have been greatly expanded to give the user more control.

Gliding Cursor Speed for Switch Users

The speed of the gliding cursor has been greatly reduced at the lowest setting. In iOS 8 it takes approximately 15-seconds for the gliding cursor to get from one side of the screen to the other versus just 5-seconds in iOS 7. This slower speed will help individuals who are unable to react as quickly as other users.

See what's using your battery

In the Settings/General/Usage. Tap on the Battery Usage entry and you can see exactly which apps are taking up all of your precious battery power.


Quick Web search using Spotlight

Swipe down on the home screen to access Spotlight, type out a few words and you'll notice that Web links now appear alongside results from apps. You can change options in Settings/Spotlight.

Change Sharing Options

You can rearrange the sharing options by dragging them where you wish. You can also disable some sharing options, such as Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, by tapping on the More option.

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