Please ignore this test.
My love for all things Apple stems from the fact that the operating systems and hardware are beautifully designed, intuitive and functional. When the original Apple TV was released, I immediately began envisioning how it would impact an iPad classroom. Giving students and teachers the ability to share their screens via AirPlay would create a collaborative learning environment where sharing and cooperation could be fostered. Fast forward to today where I work in a 1:1 K-12 school where every classroom is equipped with an Apple TV and projector, it is hard to imagine our classrooms without this magical device. In addition to having access to an Apple TV in every classroom, I have enjoyed having one in the home, as it is an important component of our Apple ecosystem.
On October 26, I woke up bright and early to purchase the newest Apple TV (4th gen). I also purchased four for my school that are being piloted in three elementary classrooms and one high school classroom. I’ll keep this initial post brief, but I have to say that I’m incredibly impressed with this device. Video streaming quality has drastically improved and I haven’t experienced any drops, as I did with the older model. There is so much that I could write about the newest Apple TV, but my focus today is on the APPS and how they can be used in the classroom and the home. There are an estimated 2,600 apps currently in the app store, but that is predicted to increase to nearly 10,000 in early 2016. Before it gets too overwhelming, here are a few apps that have potential in the classroom and some of my family’s favorites.
Like the iOS and Mac App Stores, the Apple TV App Store allows you to search by category. You can simply head on over to the Education category to see what new apps are available. There are some great premium apps available for purchase, but I’ll try to focus on the free ones.
Brain Pop, Jr. – There is a free movie of the week, plus related quizzes and activities. If your school subscribes to BrainPop, Jr., you can login with your credentials to access all movies and bonus features.
History Channel – Our high school history teacher spends time teaching about the Civil War and the American Revolution. The History Channel offers some excellent, free video clips that she can add to her Apple TV watchlist and refer to throughout her lessons on these topics. There is no need to provide a cable subscription login to view these videos. Additionally, there is a search feature within this app if you are looking for specific topics.
Elevate Showdown – This is a great one for high school language arts teachers! In this fun game, students can use their own devices as controllers to match words to descriptions. Students build their vocabulary by reviewing words that they missed when the game is over. We play this one at home and it is challenging!
TED – Stimulate thoughtful class discussions with easy access to TED Talks. I love how this app allows teachers to add items to their watchlist, for easy access to Talks during class time.
News – There are a ton of news apps, such as NBC News, that teachers can use when referring to current events.
TV Board – There are many apps like this one out there, but this one allows you to turn your Apple TV into a collaborative whiteboard. Your students can use any phone or browser as their drawing tool. Collaborators join the space by visiting the link displayed in the top left corner. I could see this being used a space to brainstorm ideas, such as a book character’s traits, types of mammals, etc.
Netflix – It seems that everyone these days has a Netflix account. You can find some excellent documentaries to help make your curriculum come alive and engage your students with the audio visuals so many of our learners need. I do recommend creating a watchlist within this app because browsing through the options can be extremely distracting and much of the content could be deemed inappropriate for the classroom.
Gravity TV – This one is currently free for a limited time! I can see it being used in the classroom to create a relaxing and calming environment. Powered by gravity, you use your glass touchpad on the remote to guide the star flow. This app combines music, art and science. It’s really beautiful.
I love how the newest Apple TV has added a new gaming console in the family room. Here are some of my family’s favorite Apple TV apps.
Just Dance Now – This is a great way to get family members up and moving! There are a few free songs to dance to, but we love this app so much we purchased a VIP membership. I think it’s worth it because it encourages family health and fitness. You can also buy songs by purchasing coins in the Just Dance Now Shop for unlimited access to your purchased songs. One of my favorite things about this app is that you can join a dance room with any iOS device. Simply download the Just Dance Now app on your iPod, iPhone or iPad and you can easily join the family dance room. Your device is now a controller to record your dance moves!
Apple Music – Yes, I pay for Apple Music, but in conjunction with the Apple TV, it is extremely worth the monthly fee! I can actually AirPlay songs to the Apple TV and control the volume and tracklist from my Apple Watch. If you prefer to play the songs directly from the Apple TV, you can access your iCloud music library from there as well.
SketchParty TV Free – The modern Pictionary! We just discovered this one last night and we had a blast playing it! You only need one device, such as an iPad or iPhone.
Open the game on your Apple TV and then download SketchParty TV Free onto your iOS device. Tap Join Game – select Apple TV. Set up your teams and then hit Play! You will pass the device around and take turns drawing and guessing. This is a super fun and free game!
If you use Apple devices in your classroom and/or at home, the new Apple TV is an excellent investment. It is more reliable and more powerful than its predecessor and, with the addition of the new app store, is a huge improvement! New apps are being added every day, so I’ll continue sharing my favorites.
The number one question I am asked is, how do you back up your photos? It’s an excellent question and dilemma, honestly, and one that I have never had a perfect solution for until now. There are so many ways to save photos and everyone seems to use a different workflow. I know that some still use an external hard drive with time machine, while others keep buying more iCloud space so that they don’t have to delete anything from their iPhone’s camera roll. In my opinion, however, this does not treat the symptom of photo hoarding.
In the past I have uploaded photos to Shutterfly and Photobucket, only to grow frustrated with the inability to upload quality videos from my iPhone with this workflow. A few years ago I decided to store my photos on Google Drive, since all of my personal and professional files are backed up there. Because my husband and I take a lot of photos and videos of our family, we pay for additional Google Drive storage, so I’m careful to upload only the photos and videos that we cherish versus holding on to every image we capture. Google offers the following storage plans, which I feel are extremely affordable:
|Total storage||Monthly rate|
Before the Google Photos app came out, we used the Google Drive app, and logged into our joint account to upload photos and videos from our iPhones. Unfortunately, this process was extremely tedious because we had to decide which photos/videos we wanted to upload and then tap on each one in order to begin the upload to Drive process. Sometimes the upload failed and you had to look through each picture to see which ones didn’t make it. It was the biggest pain. So, I started connecting my iPhone to my Mac with the USB charging cable and used Image Capture to move the photos and videos to my Mac and into Google Drive. Again, this was way too much work and I kept putting it off each week, which fed into my photo hoarding problem.
There had to be a better way! Finally, this past May, Google released the Google Photos app and took the work (and workflow!) out of backing up photos. If you plan to store a large amount of photos on Google Photos, like I do, you should pay for the additional space because you’ll run out of the free 15 GB pretty quickly. Then….run, don’t walk to your phone and do the following:
1. Download the Google Photos app from the App Store (or Google Play store if you are one of those Android people).
2. Log in using the account with the upgraded storage plan.
3. Make sure “back up & sync” is on. Your camera roll photos are automagically backed up in the background, as long as you are on Wifi! No more image capture, no more manual uploads in the Google Drive app! Note: I don’t want to use up all of my cellular data, so I turn that feature off.
4. Since I use this app to back up my cherished family photos, I use the original upload size in case I ever want to have the photos printed and/or enlarged. This is why I pay for the 100 GB storage plan. It’s only $1.99 per month!
5. That’s it. You are done. Your pictures and videos will upload to Google Photos in the background while you are on Wifi. No need to remember to backup your photos. From time to time, I will go into the camera roll and delete photos I don’t want or need, so they don’t upload to Google Photos. If they have already uploaded, I just spend some time deleting photos I don’t want or need from the app. I can now clean out my camera roll, without worry, knowing that all my photos and videos are safe in Google Photos! No longer have access to your phone? Just go to http://photos.google.com to see all of your photos. There they are, safe and sound.
BONUS: Google Photos is wicked cool and has some pretty amazing features:
Your Photos Assistant
This cool tool does fancy stuff to your photos behind the scenes. Tap on assistant to see what it’s been up to:
2. New Story
3. Animation (Click on it to view) I was taking pics of fireworks and Assistant made an animated gif out of the cars driving by!
4. Stylized photo
This part is kind of creepy, but it’s still awesome. Tap on the magnifying glass in the bottom right and search photos that have been automatically grouped by specific faces, keywords and places. It categorized my photos 100% without my help. I did not enter keywords or tap to confirm certain faces or places. I love technology and I am in love with this app!
Example: If I tap on a picture of my son, I am taken to a scrollable list of photos that have my son in them.
You may remember my post on iCloud Photo Sharing. Well, I’m bringing back the discussion because I just discovered something pretty amazing that you can do with this feature and your Apple TV. Well, I kind of knew for awhile that this feature existed, but I never had time to try it out. I am a HUGE fan of Apple TV and almost as excited about the newest model as I was about the Apple Watch – almost.
Anyway, I have an Apple TV at home and there is one in every classroom in my school. We have a pretty sweet setup for AirPlaying our creations and I don’t know how we ever lived without it.
Every Apple TV’s screensaver defaults to beautiful National Geographic photos set to the “random” setting. While this is a great choice and can meet the needs of the majority of Apple TV users, I kept thinking how cool it would be to display my family photos on my home Apple TV and student photos from around the school on our classroom Apple TVs. Since this past year was spent rolling out one-to-one devices, I kept putting this project on the back burner until I had a real reason to make it work. Well, a couple of weeks ago I was challenged to make it work! The only option to get a whole bunch of photos onto the Apple TV was to use iTunes, but that didn’t seem like the best option for a wireless device that sits high above the classroom on our mounted projectors. It would be easy to set up a personal device like this, but I wanted to use iCloud and knew there had to be a way.
I was excited when I came across this article last week.: How to Use Your iCloud Photos as Your Apple TV’s Screen Saver
Since my husband and I share an iCloud photo library with each other, we can add photos we take with our iPhones to one central album. We call this album, “Family.” Now we can have these photos displayed on a digital photo wall formerly known as our Samsung TV. See my original post on iCloud Photo Sharing to learn how to set this up.
Once the shared album is set up, simply share it with people you’d like to contribute photos to this album.
Then you need to log in to the Apple TV with an Apple ID that has had the album shared with it. If you are in a school, you can simply create a generic, school Apple ID and then follow the directions in this article.
Note that I do not turn on Photostream because I don’t want ALL photos to be used as a screensaver for classroom Apple TVs. I just want a specific iCloud Photo album. Here’s how I did it:
1. First, I made sure iCloud Photo sharing was on and Photo Stream was off.
2. Then I went to Apple TV settings – Screensaver
3. I scrolled past National Geographic and chose iCloud Photos.
4.Then I selected Family from my list of shared iCloud photo albums. Here I am able to see albums that I have shared with others and albums that others have shared with me.
5. The kids voted on the “Snapshots” setting and that was it!
Now we just add photos to that shared album and they automatically show up on our Apple TV screensaver. Just imagine the cool classroom photos you could display on your class Apple TV!
I can also Airplay Apple Music playlists directly from my Apple Watch while the screensaver is on, while having the ability to advance the song, increase or decrease the volume or change playlists. I’ll save that for my next post!
This is by no means a full blog post on the Watch, but I’ve had this amazing gadget for about an hour now and I wanted to post two quick, but pretty cool features.
First, I can use the remote app on the Watch to control my Apple TV!! It is super easy and I didn’t even have to configure it because my iPhone’s Remote app was already configured to work with my Apple TV.
Second, I can control my keynote slides on my iPhone or iPad with the Keynote app on my Watch! I am not sure if it will control Keynote for Mac slides YET, but I will be investigating. If anyone knows how to do this already, please leave a message in the comments.More to come!
Are you sick of forgetting your passwords? Are you worried about your super weak passwords and the possibility of getting hacked? Do you wish online forms would autofill your contact details and other info? You must try LastPass! I actually purchased the annual subscription (only $12 per year) using their iPhone app so that I can securely access all of my passwords from my iOS devices or through Google Chrome on my Mac.
If you haven’t tried LastPass, click here to try it. It is one of my favorite tools for managing and generating my passwords, autofilling frequently typed information and more!
P.S. A friend on Twitter recommended setting up multifactor authentication with LastPass for added security. Thanks for the tip, Armando!
My 7 and 6 year olds received iPod Touches (Generation 5) for Christmas today! I was excited to use the new Family Sharing plan for app sharing and purchasing because a) I wanted to try it out and b) I wanted them to use their own Apple IDs to keep their photos, iMessages, etc. separate from my own.
Here are a couple of things you should know BEFORE you get started. First, make sure you have iOS 8 on your devices. This plan doesn’t work without it. Second, a “valid payment method is required.” I have been using PayPal as my payment method ever since I started buying apps and I guess PayPal recently did something to make Apple mad and this has made life difficult for Apple/PayPal lovers. The message below is what I received when I tried to set up Family Sharing for the first time.
Sadly I had to update my payment method with the old Mastercard and I had to do it – get this – in iTunes! On my computer! This part was super annoying, but once I did all of the hard work, I was able to add the kiddos to the plan. The Family Sharing plan is AWESOME and I am totally in love with how easy it is to use. If you’ve recently purchased an iOS device for a family member under the age of 13, I highly suggest that you read on. (I haven’t tried this with Mac family users, but I’m sure it works just as well).
- To set this up for your family, go to your own iOS device. You, the parent, are the “Organizer.” Tap on Settings – iCloud – Set up Family Sharing. If you don’t see “Set up Family Sharing,” you probably don’t have iOS 8. Remember, this is a must!
- Tap Get Started
- Tap Continue
- Confirm that you are logged in with YOUR Apple ID and Tap Continue
- Tap Add Family Member
- IMPORTANT: Scroll down under your payment method and tap on Create an Apple ID for a child
- Tap Next
- Select your child’s birthday
- Verify your credit card info
- Enter your child’s name and tap Next
- Create your child’s new Apple ID (email)
- Choose a password that you and your child can remember. It must have at least 8 characters and include an uppercase letter, a number and a lowercase letter. (P.S. my kids can’t remember theirs yet, so I saved their passwords in a special app I use)
- You have to choose three ridiculous security questions and answers. I also put these in my special password app so that I don’t forget.
- Make sure that you leave Ask to Buy ON. This will force your child to get permission whenever they want to purchase an app with your credit card info.
- Tap Share Location. Then you can stalk your kids…fun!
- You’re Done!
Turn on your kids’ personal devices and have them log into iCloud, iMessage, FaceTime and the App Store with their new iCloud accounts.
I’ll share screenshots from my son’s iPod Touch for reference. If he wants an app that I’ve already purchased, he can go to App Store, purchased and search for the app he wants. I wanted my son to have Explain Everything, a premium app, that I had installed on my iPhone. I went to the app store on my son’s iPad and searched for the app, but to my surprise the app was listed as $2.99. I tapped on it and tapped Buy and the app installed for free on his device. The $2.99 was misleading because the app was shared for free with my son, so I’m not sure if this is some sort of glitch or what. The app did install and I did not have to purchase it again. Another install option is to tap on App Store – Updates – Purchased – Family Purchases – Jennifer (Family Organizer). Any of my past purchases are listed as free and available for download on my son’s iPod. I just tap on FREE – Install App on his device and the app installs. Notice how Superimpose is listed as free? That app is normally 99 cents, but it’s free for my son since I own it.
Now, if there is an app that he wants that is free or premium, that I have never downloaded, there is a different process entirely. He taps on Get – and is prompted to Ask permission before he can download. The Ask to Buy process occurs when my kids want to download a Free or Premium app that I have not personally installed on my device.
The next scenario is when you, the family organizer, has an iTunes gift card balance that you want to share with your family members. You need to access the App Store on your device and locate the app that your family member desires. Install the app using your gift card balance so that the app can be shared with your family members in the family sharing plan.
So far Family Sharing has worked seamlessly for me and I don’t have to worry about my kids downloading apps without my permission or sharing an Apple ID with everyone in my family. I highly recommend this method and I’m so glad Apple has made it easy for my little Apple users to set up their ecosystems correctly. Any apps that ones of us purchases can be shared across our devices – easy!