As you might have heard inklings of (I myself was glued to Engadget's live blog), Apple is having its Worldwide Developer's Conference in San Francisco this week. Traditionally, the keynote address from this conference brings important product development announcements, and today's conference was no different. As many people come to this site for information about iPad, I thought it would be helpful to share some of the key points that can affect our work and use of Apple products.
First of all, you MUST MUST MUST click through to see the wonderful video that was shown as part of the keynote address, focusing on how Apple products change lives. It features not only an app that helps people with visual impairments navigate the world in new ways, but also a terrific segment on how Toca Boca apps on iPad (one of my favorite lines) can be used as a tool in speech-language pathology. Isn't that AMAZING? So few people even know what we do, and to be highlighted in this broad way on an international stage...just wonderful. It's even better that my colleague and fellow editor of TherapyApp411 Renena Joy is the SLP featured in the film. Click here for the video, and the segment about speech and language is at 12:45. The video really embodies the exact message and mission of this blog- to paraphrase Renena, what many kids think of as a toy can be to us a powerful tool for shaping speech and language development. Thank you so much, Renena, for spreading this important message.
OK, so (*wiping tears of verclemptness*), what do you need to know about:
Mountain Lion- the new operating system for Mac (not iPad) will allow you to stream your Mac directly to an Apple TV (opportunities to use a Mac at home and during presentations in new ways) and also integrates with iCloud in more automatic ways. For instance, if you create materials with applications such as Keynote and Pages (Apple's presentation creator and word processor) they will simply show up in the corresponding iPad apps. Mountain Lion will also have Voice Dictation built in, which can be a helpful productivity tool and will also be useful for kids with language and learning disabilities. They will be able to dictate any text into a Mac running Mountain Lion. These features will be available in July, when you will be able to purchase Mountain Lion from the Mac App Store for $19.99. A bargain for a new operating system!
iOS 6- iOS 6 is the new operating system for iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch, and it will be available in the fall. Sadness at having to wait so long, but this is a free update that will be available through Settings if you are currently running iOS5, except...(here's a quick roundup of features):
1. These new features are not going to be available on iPad 1. Here's where you might want to start thinking about whether having this advanced operating system is important to you, and consider selling or handing down your iPad 1 and upgrading. 'Cause Apple is upgrading and leaving it behind, sorry. I realize this is more than a little frustrating, but it goes with the territory.
2. Siri comes to iPad 3rd generation (only). Apple's voice assistant, Siri, will be coming to "New" iPads with iOS6. This feature will allow you (and your students) to control the iPad in limited ways with your voice, for purposes of search, adding calendar items and reminders, launching apps, and all sorts of other things. Keep in mind that Siri and other dictation tools don't work well if the student has articulation difficulties.
3. Guided access. In iOS 6, you will be able to put your iPad in "single-app mode." This will allow you to prevent a child from exiting an app by tapping the home button. A great feature for those of us that work with children with special needs, who will benefit from this additional structuring of their iPad use. I imagine this will be very helpful for students running AAC apps on iPad.
4. New 3D Maps- As has long been rumored, Apple is ditching Google Maps and using their own data and programming within the Maps app. This app will feature 3D buildings, which will be a great way to expose students to visuals about cities and elicit language related to the curriculum. It will also feature turn-by-turn directions, which can be played as a "virtual field trip" and target sequential language.
5. Sharing- Facebook sharing will be integrated into the operating system for easy sharing of photos and other materials. I think this is relevant to SLPs as many of us are using Facebook as a professional development and networking tool through our interaction with various speech and language related pages. You'll also want to be careful about Photostream, itself a little dodgy because if you have it turned on under Settings>iCloud, your photos are automatically shared between devices. i.e. That cocktail party picture of you on your iPhone would show up on your iPad as well, perhaps providing an unintentional language stimulus during a session. Anyway, Photostream will now allow you to share photos to friends as you customize it (carefully)
There are a number of additional news-bits, so check out this post if you'd like to hear it all.