app advice for speech-language pathologists, educators and parents

handy tricks

Take a Screenshot

Do you know what a screenshot is? I sure didn’t until someone showed me. This is a great feature that you might use often, but it’s not something you would ever find by accident. If you hold the home key down at the same time you press the on/off button on the top side edge of your iPad, you will create an image of exactly what is on your screen. You will know you’ve done this because you will hear that familiar camera shutter noise and the screen will flash.

If you go to your photo album, you will see that the last picture added is a picture of exactly what was on your screen.



What Does This Button Mean?

This powerful little button shows up on the top tool bar of a lot of apps.  It’s official name might be the Action Button.  It can be the Edit button, the Email It button — it can mean a lot of things.  Basically it is the button you push when you want to actively do something with what is on the screen.  When you tap on that little button from within an app, a list of drop down “Do Something” choices will show up.

Here are the choices it gives you from inside the photo album app.  Very handy.


Lock Into One App

This amazing new feature turns your iPad into a dedicated device.  Guided Access lets you pick one app and lock your iPad into that one app until you tell it differently. If you have students who can switch in and out of apps faster than you can blink, you’ve been waiting for this one.

In Settings, under Accessibility, is Guided Access. Turn that to on, and you now have the ability to go into any app and make that app the only thing your child can access. You can tell it to disable all external buttons INCLUDING the home key and the volume, and you can even circle key buttons on the screen and temporarily disable those. This takes about 2 seconds. Press START and you are back in your app, but on your terms. The app is locked in place and the buttons you have circled are dimmed. If you work with very young, very distractible or highly perseverative kids, this new feature might just be a game changer.

Just one word of warning… Make sure you always back up your iPad regularly (see Using the Cloud). Disabled hardware is disabled hardware. If something quirky happens and your iPad becomes non-responsive for any reason while you are in Guided Access, you might have to take drastic measures in order to get your iPad operational again. Having a recent backup can take away a lot of that pain.  One more thing to keep in mind is that you do not necessarily need to wipe your iPad clean if you do get stuck in Guided Access.  Try a hard reset first, by holding down the home key and on/off switch for a full 15 seconds.

Read Any Text Out Loud

Here’s a feature you won’t believe Apple just quietly tucked into IOS 6:  Speak Selection.  Go into Settings, then General, then Accessibility.  Switch Speak Selection to ON and now any (inactive) text within any app or off any website can be read aloud.  This is not voiceover, where every last word is read on the screen.  Now you tap on the page, move the corners out to the section of text you want read and tap Speak.  You can customize the rate of speech in Settings, and decide whether you want the words to highlight as they are read.  It couldn’t be easier to use, and for a child struggling with reading this one feature might justify the entire cost of the iPad. Every book is now an audio book, every informational website is now accessible and your students can now read back the sentence they’ve just written. The beauty of this feature is that you can isolate the exact chunk of text you want read aloud.  It’s already in your iPad waiting to be switched on, and it’s as easy as cut and paste.


Where Is My App?

Sometimes you are sure you own an app, but just can’t find it.  It’s actually possible to have so many apps that you run out of screen real estate (see Arranging and Deleting Apps) and your app icon is just not displayed.  At the same time, it’s possible that it’s there in plain sight but you just don’t see it.  The easiest way to find it is to use the built in Search function.

If you use your whole hand to swipe to the left of your Home Screen, you will get a barebones search interface with a keyboard.  Type the first few letters of what you are looking for and you will be able to find and launch the elusive app (or video or song…) directly from where you are.