In the last few weeks, I’ve noticed an interesting trend among my young cousins. No longer do they want cuddly toys or regular action figures from Santa. This year, it’s all about iPhones and iPads–a marked change from the increasingly distant days when I was a kid. Given the importance of such devices this Christmas, we thought we’d take a look at just how apps are invading the toy aisle and offer a few ideas for festive presents.
Ideas for Babies and Toddlers
Fisher Price offer plenty of great ways of integrating iPhones or iPads with your kids’ playtime. The Laugh & Learn Apptivity Case turns devices into a form of 21st century rattle. Noisy beads keep them interested, while a mirror means that baby can take a look at themselves. There’s peace of mind too, as the case can withstand drool, teething and a certain amount of throwing around. It comes in iPhone/iPod Touch and iPad varieties.
The Apptivity brand continues from there, too. There’s a Storybook Reader, which turns an iOS device into a book that can be turned just as easily as a conventional tome.
For the more active baby, there’s the Gym, allowing babies to hone their motor skills in conventional ways, while also playing peek-a-boo with the Fisher Price app.
Finally, there’s the Monkey, with its cuddly toy nature combined with the power of some fun iOS games for the youngster.
Toddlers can enjoy the fun of Dora the Explorer Let’s Play Backpack, which lets kids place a toy backpack on an iPad in order to unlock new activities to learn logic, Spanish and many other important skills.
Toy Vehicles for the 21st Century
Remember as a kid how much fun it was to play with toy cars? Disney and its AppMATes toys have brought that up to date. Disney Cars2 AppMATes come in two varieties: Lightning McQueen/Holley Shiftwell and Mater/Finn McMissile. In both cases, kids place the car on the iPad screen before taking it for a spin around Radiator Springs. It’s perfectly safe for the screen, too, thanks to the rubber contacts, although doesn’t work through screen protectors.
For the Scientific Child
iTikes offers a great range of toys that turn iOS devices into more educational tools. The Map Explorer uses a form of Augmented Reality to help kids interact with a world map, as well as learn about the Solar System, dinosaurs and animals.
Other toys such as the Microscope, Keyboard and Canvas offer a similar mix of educational fun. It’s all helped by the fact that kids don’t require an iOS device at all times to enjoy the toy.
This week at 148Apps.com, we got into the holiday spirit with a review of a gadget that might be on many people’s wish lists this year – the iRig Keyboard. Site editor Rob LeFebvre writes, “IK Multimedia might be trying to take over the music peripheral world. The company has a wide range of apps, instruments, and support items that could, in theory, be used to build a band entirely out of iOS instruments. The latest offering from this prolific manufacturer is titled iRig Keys, a super portable iOS keyboard with 37 velocity-sensitive keys, modulation and pitch wheels, low power consumption, and core MIDI compliance. The iRig is aimed at the portable musician, the composer on the go, the backpack virtuoso, and as such, it succeeds brilliantly.”
The upcoming holidays were also on our minds at GiggleApps.com, as Amy Solomon reviewed Ice is Nice: All About the North and South Poles. Amy says, “As the name may suggest, Ice Is Nice does indeed give a lot of great information about the earth’s North and South Poles, as well as animals found in these areas that children and their adults will enjoy a great deal.
As with the other titles from this series, go on an adventure with The Cat in the Hat, Dick and Sally as well as Thing One and Thing Two, who are all here to learn such topics as the harsh temperatures found at the Poles or why there are six months of darkness or perpetual sun.”
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-06-27 :: Category: Education
Finally, 148Apps.biz writer Carter Dotson explored the improvements made in Tapjoy’s latest SDK: “Mobile advertising service Tapjoy has announced version 9.0 of their SDK for iOS and Android. The purpose of this update is meant to expand out and improve their current set of features to improve user engagement with their ads, and to integrate daily rewards, a popular feature that developers can now easily implement. These are meant to provide advertisers ways to developer targeted ads in a better way, and for developers to generate revenue even from non-paying users through incentivized ad viewing, service signups, and app installs.”
And that sets us up for a week of pre-Thanksgiving hysteria here in the States. Join us on Twitter and Facebook to keep track of holiday app sales, news and reviews across all of our sites…and do yourself a favor and start thawing that turkey now.
Developer: IK Multimedia
Device Reviewed With: new iPad, iPhone 5
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IK Multimedia might be trying to take over the music peripheral world. The company has a wide range of apps, instruments, and support items that could, in theory, be used to build a band entirely out of iOS instruments. The latest offering from this prolific manufacturer is titled iRig Keys, a super portable iOS keyboard with 37 velocity-sensitive keys, modulation and pitch wheels, low power consumption, and core MIDI compliance. The iRig is aimed at the portable musician, the composer on the go, the backpack virtuoso, and as such, it succeeds brilliantly.
The manufacturer offers the free version of iGrand Piano or SampleTank, both IK Multimedia, as the apps to use with the iRig Keys, but this unit will work with any MIDI app on the iPad, iPhone or iPod touch. It comes with an included USB cable to plug into a Mac or PC as well, opening up the use of any core MIDI compliant app on a laptop. I was able to make the keyboard work with iGrand, SampleTank, and GarageBand. The setup was as simple as plugging in the keyboard via the 30-pin dock connector and firing up any one of the keyboard apps on my iPad 3. I didn’t notice a significant battery drain while using the iRig Keys unit, either.
The small size of the iRig Keys is the killer feature, of course, as it can easily fit into a backpack or even just carried by hand. It’s small, light, and the controls and keyboard keys all feel well-made. The keys are indeed velocity sensitive, and the handy data send/volume knob feels solidly attached. The octave up/down buttons don’t feel chintzy at all, and the two expression wheels don’t wobble when used. All in all, the iRig Keys shows a superior build quality that should help it hold up over time as it moves from place to place, in and out of backpacks and shoulder bags.
For on-the-go composition, song recording, or piano practice, iRig Keys works well for an attractive price. The unit is powered by the included iOS or USB cables, but does not draw excessive amounts of power to drain the iPad or iPhone attached to it. The keys are easy to play, feel solid enough for mobile use, and will allow musicians at any level to create and record music as inspiration strikes.
IK Multimedia, purveyor of fine musician-quality iOS peripherals and software, has announced a new keyboard today: iRig Keys. This portable keyboard has 37 velocity-sensitive keys, is Core MIDI and USB class compliant, and will work with iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, and Mac or PC computers. There’s also free software for every platform, and it will work with any other MIDI compliant software, like Garageband.
iRig KEYS will be shipping in Fall 2012 for $99.99/€74.99 (excluding taxes) and will be available from musical instrument and consumer electronics retailers around the world. Pre-orders are now available from the IK Online store and other selected online stores.
Well, the first solution when iOS picks up on some bad autocorrection habits is to just erase the keyboard dictionary entirely. Do this by going to Settings, General, Reset and Reset Keyboard Dictionary. Note that this will erase everything in the keyboard dictionary, including any good things like emails and usernames that iOS has picked up on. It’s throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
Now, there is a way to get rid of the bathwater while keeping the baby around – it’s cute, even if diapers ain’t cheap. Starting with iOS 5, Apple implemented a feature in iOS to let certain keyboard shortcuts be automatically inserted when typing.
This is designed primarily to make typing long strings of text much easier by setting up shorter strings to automatically expand to longer strings. For example, I use it to easily send emails to a long address easily. But it also serves as a great deterrent for frequent typos by replacing a misspelling with the proper spelling every time.
Go to Settings, General, Keyboard, and scroll down to Shortcuts. Tap Add New Shortcut… to do exactly what it says on the tin. Note that the top line is the text that should be replaced, and the bottom line is for what gets inputted.
Note that these shortcuts work even with hardware keyboards, so common typos can also be corrected even with real keyboards. This is also particularly useful to correct typos like thr being replaced with Thr when trying to type the. Unless you know someone named Thr, which is just awesome. The downside is that pretty much any frequent typo needs to be replaced manually using this method, but at least it exists as a reliable solution.
To delete a text shortcut, just swipe horizontally and tap “Delete” – this is recommended for the default “omw” shortcut. We’ve all sent a message where we just wanted to say OMW and wound up sounding far more excited than we really were. Yes, we’re on our way, but we’re not all sunshine and rainbows about it.
So, while perhaps it’s not a perfect replacement for a flawed autocorrect system, at least it’s a clever solution. Have something you need to know how to do on iOS? Let us know in the comments!
Noted synthesizer and keyboard manufacturer Korg has announced a new iPad-compatible MIDI keyboard for use with various iPad music apps. The microKEY25 is a 25-key MIDI keyboard with a joystick, octave adjustment buttons, arpeggiator and sustain buttons. The keys themselves are velocity-sensing, designed to play chords, and to be customizable using Korg KONTROL Editor software for PC and Mac.
The keyboard connects to the iPad by way of its USB output to the Camera Connection Kit’s USB adapter. When used with MIDI-compatible apps, like Korg’s own iMS-20, it can send keyboard commands to play music and use its key functions to adjust various commands. It is compatible with GarageBand and its built-in MIDI keyboard support. Use VidRhythm to remix videos with the microKEY25. Cross the streams, and use a Korg keyboard to control Animoog! Any app that supports the iOS CoreMIDI framework introduced in iOS 4.2 can be used with a MIDI controller such as this, making it a portable and low-cost option for on-the-go musicians. The keyboard will be available from select music retailers for $69.99.
This case popped up recently and looked like it had a chance to be something unique. While it borrows heavily from the Zagg mate, it makes a few improvements and is a heck of a lot cheaper. Let’s take a look at the Aluminum Keyboard Buddy case for it iPad 2.
This keyboard for the iPad 2 is sold as a case, but it’s not truly a case. Rather, it is more of a smart-cover-enabled clam shell with a keyboard included. The iPad sets, face down, into the tray of the keyboard with the edges coming up to enclose the sides of the iPad. And here we see the first issue with this keyboard.
To place the iPad 2 into the case for storage, users need to wedge one wide side of the iPad under two tabs on the edge of the keyboard. Then, users close the iPad by easing it down over the keyboard. To get the iPad wedged under both of these tabs is not a super easy thing. And once the iPad is closed into the keyboard, it is not as secure as the iPad was in the Zagg keyboard. The friction seems a bit lacking – it easily works itself out when stored in a bag or carried in your hand. Perhaps a little forceful adjusting of the aluminum edge of the keyboard would help, but I’m not willing to risk breaking it to do so.
Using the actual keyboard is much better than expected. It’s a similar Bluetooth design to most other non-folio type keyboards. The iPad 2 wedges into a groove on the front of the keyboard and leans back either in portrait or landscape orientation. The keyboard base then becomes the platform to hold the iPad 2 and use as a keyboard. This works quite well and is in my opinion the best method for typing. The solid base allows you to use this on a table or even in your lap, though using it in your lap with the iPad in portrait mode can feel a bit unbalanced. The one issue with this keyboard in particular is that the iPad bounces considerably when touching on the screen. The tabs holding the iPad in place are perhaps a bit soft for this or the overall design is a bit less rigid than it needs to be.
What about the keyboard? Well this is where this device really shines. While it has very small keys, they have great separation from the other keys. This really has given me unparalleled accuracy in typing on an iPad keyboard device. Add to that my preferred double-width backspace, inverted T arrow keys, and the usual compliment of iPad quick access keys, and this could be my favorite small iPad keyboard.
When closed up, the keyboard adds very little bulk in comparison to other keyboard cases. The whole package is just under double the thickness of the iPad alone. This keyboard also includes the special iPad 2 magnet in just the right place to automatically wake up your iPad when you pull it out of the case. Perhaps this could be an issue for battery drain if the iPad is popping out of the case in your bag, however.
Overall, the Buddy iPad 2 case is a good specialized keyboard. While half the price and not nearly as good as the Zagg mate, it is half the price. While for pure typing pleasure you can’t beat the Apple Bluetooth keyboard, in a pinch this one will work and is considerably more portable. Add to that the rather cheap price at under $50, and it might be the perfect keyboard for some.
This iPad 2 keyboard shell is available for $49.90 from MIC Gadget in either white or black. Full specs from the manufacturer are below, or after the jump.
If there was one reason I’ve heard more than any others about why someone bought an Android or Blackberry phone over the iPhone, it’s that the person doesn’t like to type on touchscreens. Regardless of my argument that after a few weeks, I ended up typing MUCH faster on the iPhone’s onscreen than on my old Blackberry, people often opt for a physical keyboard.
The NUU MiniKey is by no means the only physical keyboard case for the iPhone (there’s a flip-out one available at ThinkGeek and another popular one by BoxWave), but it has a few interesting features and sturdy-looking design (though it looks like it may almost double the thickness of the iPhone).
The MiniKey has navigation keys to allow easier movement between characters than using the magnifying glass on the touchscreen. Like most cellphone keyboards, the MiniKey has function keys to allow quicker typing of symbols and numbers. Something I haven’t seen on other iPhone keyboards is backlighting. While it isn’t helpful to a skilled typist like myself who doesn’t need to look at the keys, other more novice typists may need to see what keys they are pressing. The MiniKey is also compatible with the Mac keyboard shortcuts like Command+C for copy and Command+V for paste. And finally, it has a key to toggle between the physical and onscreen keyboard. I assume this key simply turns the keyboard on and off (which would be great to save battery life).
The NUU MiniKey is selling for $79.99 on Amazon (free shipping). This won’t appeal to those of us that trust that Apple knows best and if we needed a physical keyboard they would have given us one. But to anyone who is on the fence between iPhones and other phones, accessories like this may be the deciding factor.
While the iPad can definitely be used to write (emails, blogging, etc), it isn’t necessarily ideal for writing more than short posts and emails. One solution would be to grab the iPad Keyboard Dock or a bluetooth keyboard. But the obvious problem with buying one of those is (1) the price and (2) it’s just something else to carry around. Inventor Cliff Thier came up with a solution that doesn’t involve carrying around another largish gadget.
The iKeyboard isn’t on the market yet. It’s one of those Kickstarter projects that will be funded and put into production only if a certain amount is pledged ($4000 in this case). The iKeyboard would attach to the iPad and create a sensation of touch-typing by providing tactile feedback similar to that of a real keyboard. The iKeyboard is light-weight – much lighter than carrying around a bluetooth keyboard. It seems that it will be cheaper than a bluetooth keyboard considering people that pledge over $30 will receive a first-generation iKeyboard (hopefully meaning that the product will be around $30).
Thier, along with industrial design firm IDEAZ, seem dedicated to making an experience akin to a real keyboard experience,
The designers at IDEAZ have managed to match the force required to depress a key on the iKeyboard to the force needed to depress a key on an Apple keyboard. They’ve also succeeded in making the iKeyboard’s keys travel a distance equal to that of Apple keys. We now have a fully functional prototype that works pretty well.
At the time I’m writing this, $14,376 has already been pledged to the iKeyboard. Looks like we’ll be seeing an iKeyboard in the near future. But there are still solid reasons to pledge. $30 or more will reward the pledger with the first-generation product and $50 or more will get the first and second-generation (when it comes out). Both increments will be asked to participate in providing feedback to create a better second-generation product. Interesting in supporting iKeyboard?
iPad Integration Rating:
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When I bought the Apple Wireless Keyboard for both my iPad and MacBook Pro, I immediately ran into a problem. How do I pack up the keyboard to take with me to class? I didn’t want to damage the keys by just throwing it in my bag. I sorely needed a case for the keyboard. As a side note to those who don’t have a keyboard case and don’t want to damage their keyboards: the box that the keyboard comes in is portable and sturdy enough to use temporarily.
Due to a suggestion on a favorite podcast of mine (Andy Ihnatko on Macbreak Weekly), I bought the Incase Origami Workstation. The Origami Workstation is definitely of a minimalist design. The keyboard simply clips into the case – quite securely, I might add. The case is closed, book-style, and velcroed shut. Just as a keyboard case, the Origami Workstation is not worth its $29.95 price tag. But the real usefulness comes in when it doubles as a stand for the iPad.
The Apple case for the original iPad isn’t the most secure stand. It’s not sturdy at all when using it in portrait mode or in landscape mode when it’s sitting upright. So pre-Origami Workstation, I was constantly worried that my iPad was going to fall screen first onto my desk in class (those slanted desks don’t help the situation). The top half of the Origami Workstation folds back and attaches to itself via velcro to make room to place an iPad.
The viewing angle that the stand creates is perfect (the Apple case makes an angle that’s too steep). It holds in both portrait and landscape mode. Also, it’s possible to leave the Apple case on the iPad and it will still fit into the keyboard stand.
The only problem I had with the Origami Station is that one of the velcro pieces fell off shortly after I received it. A little superglue fixed the problem, but I’d obviously rather not have to repair a new accessory that way.
For anyone who is tempted to buy the iPad Keyboard Dock but still wants to be able to use the keyboard in landscape mode, this is the solution – buy the Apple Wireless Keyboard and the Incase Origami Workstation.
The actual keyboard on the Zagg mate keyboard is nearly perfect. The keys are real, with a great feel. In addition, the key placements are almost perfect though I would have preferred the standard inverted T for the arrows. They Bluetooth pairing works great as well. But the actual case design is so out of left field. It just doesn’t work well for me.
So let’s start out with the good. This thing has a great keyboard. The keys are small, but that’s fairly easy to get used to. They are very satisfying to use and type on. The keyboard works as you would expect it to. There’s the normal functions that you get with a keyboard connected to the iPad. The standard cut, copy, paste keys are great to have along with the arrow keys with the modifiers for text selection, which is great for power text editors.
When in use the iPad reclines in a recessed ridge in the middle of the device with a little easel in the back to hold it up. The iPad is loose which allows you to use it in any of the four orientations — portrait or landscape mode. This is a nice feature that no other iPad keyboard case I’ve seen has.
The problem I have with this case is that when it’s “closed”, it only covers the glass front of the iPad. The iPad is held in place by a foam gasket inside the unfinished rim of the aluminum base. The problem with this is that the back is left open to damage. I’m not one that obsesses over scratches of my devices. I buy them to use, not to display, so it’s not a huge concern. But it does leave me a little bit uneasy that there’s nothing like a layer of a case to help protect the iPad.
The usage issue is that it’s rather hard to get the iPad out of the device when it’s closed. You need to wedge your finger in the side to pry the two halves apart. It can be a bit difficult if you are in a hurry.
Overall, I really have a love / hate relationship with this keyboard case. The keyboard itself is great, and adds very little weight to the iPad. But, I think the design of the case, and how it sits on the iPad is one that is an interesting and very unique idea that just doesn’t work all that well in practice. The Zagg mate keyboard retails for a cool $99 and is available from a variety of retail locations and from Zagg themselves.
At Macworld this year, we saw a few new iPad cases with something extra, a keyboard. We’re going to take a look at a few of these as we get them in. First up is the Keyfolio from historic peripheral provider Kensington.
The KeyFolio looks like a rather nice faux-leather portfolio for your iPad. The iPad is held in securely by a firm flap at the top yet still gives access to all the needed buttons and ports. On the flap that covers the screen there’s a rubber covered keyboard. While the keys are a bit small, the convenience is really nice to have. Yet I do have a problem with some the of the choices made with this keyboard.
They keyboard uses Bluetooth to connect to the iPad giving you the ability to use this hardware keyboard instead of the soft keyboard on the screen of the iPad. Using an external keyboard does offer you some speed and convenience perks. For one you can use the OSX standard command-C,V,X for cut, copy, paste. In addition for you text warriors, the arrow keys and key modifiers also work for rapid text selection.
This keyboard feels fairly good to type with, though it’s a little odd feeling. The rubber covered keyboard is nice in that it keeps dust, crumbs, hair, etc. from getting below the keys. But it does give it a cheap feel and lacks that satisfying click of a normal keyboard. Actually using the keyboard was convenient and easy. Once the BT is paired, it connected to the iPad quickly when turned on and worked well for typing. No problems in that respect.
The one real issue I have with this device are the decisions made with key placements. For one there’s no right shift key. I don’t miss this that much, but if you use that key it will take you a while to get used to it being missing. My bigger concern is that the quote key, both single and double, has been moved to the lowest row by the space bar. This one I have to go searching for every time I need it.
Overall, if you like the form factor, and can get by the key placements, this is a great case for you. While the case itself is on the heavy side it works really well and I’m enjoying using it. The KeyFolio is available from Kensington directly for $99, and considerably cheaper from other retailers like Amazon.
If you’ve used HippoRemote Pro before you’ll know how effective it is at controlling your computer, either Mac or PC, over Wi-Fi. The app allows users to control their computer as well as a host of popular applications using its multi-touch trackpad and built-in keyboard. HippoRemote also offers a web browser and Twitter client. If all these features weren’t enough, however, the latest update to HippoRemote turns your iPhone into an advanced games controller too.
With many Mac and PC games requiring control via the mouse and keyboard, controllers like those found on consoles aren’t compatible and therefore tie the user to their desk in order to play games. HippoRemote 2.2 offers freedom from this traditional setup by replicating mouse and keyboard control from your iPhone. Whether you’re playing a full on RPG, an intense shoot ‘em up or just a simple Flash game on the web, HippoRemote allows you to customize the control layout and use only the keyboard buttons you need for a particular game. Controls can be set for different games with either a trackpad or a button pad and game-specific profiles can also be downloaded from the HippoRemote website. At present, HippoRemote is compatible with the iPhone and iPod touch but we’re excited by the possibilities introduced by the iPad and look forward to a compatible version in the future. If you love your PC games but want that console feel, you might well have already bought the best controller, you just need HippoRemote to take advantage of it.
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Posted May 27th, 2009 by David Lee Fish Our Rating: :: NOT RECOMMENDED
Amazing Piano is a music app for iPhone and iPod touch that allows the user to "play piano" via an onscreen QWERTY keyboard. It features both free and practice modes, the latter for playing melodies by pressing keys as the letters for them scroll across the screen.
Logitech has created a wired keyboard for the iPad which is the first one made specially for use in the classroom. The Logitech Wired Keyboard for iPad is designed for easy connectivity by simply plugging it in, making it easier on students and teachers, and has a key lifespan of more than five million strokes. [...]