Update Facebook and more when using Siri on the iPhone /iPad

Siri spellingiPhone Siri is not a new thing in today’s world but most people don’t use it very often. But through this post I want to highlight some of its key features like:

  1. Users can update Facebook status without even using their device. Just by using Siri.
  2. Siri is an inbuilt calculator that works smoothly just by virtual commands – tell Siri to add any set of numbers and they will be read out. Tap to edit
  3. Ask for a spelling and you will get the definition as well.
  4. Ask for currency and measurement conversions.
  5. Creat calendar events by saying make an appointment with time and date.
  6. Set up reminders and to do lists

 

Thanks to Bharat Gupta via the Add a new Strategy form. 

Free Microsoft Office Lens speeds productivity

phone Office lens

Taking an photo of the screen

Office lens is a free app available on an iPhone, Android and Window smartphone  that links to One Drive accounts and allows you to take photographs and put them straight into Microsoft Office applications. The really good thing about Office Lens is that when I take a picture of a presentation or whiteboard I can make sure it is exactly the right shape and is straight not set at an angle using the outline on the screen by selecting the document or whiteboard menu item.

image alignment for OCR

Making sure the image is straight for OCR

That is really important if you are taking photos of text that you want to have read aloud later.  If they appear out of focus or at an odd angle you will not be able to use Optical Character Recognition (OCR), to have the image converted to text so you can use a text to speech or screen reader application later on.  Once you have taken your photo you choose which application you want to send it to and if this is Microsoft Word it will extract the text.  The other options are your photos on the phone, OneNote, OneDrive, PowerPoint and Outlook or your phone mail if you want to send it as an email attachment.  The app will also save it as a PDF.

ready for export

Ready for exporting

The best thing I like about Office Lens is how it is linked to OneNote because I can collect all the images, notes and presentations, even photos of handwritten notes straight into my Notes folder and then I can search for them at any time,  as  I really have trouble remembering what I have heard in lectures etc and this process acts as a back up .

Getting started with Microsoft Office Lens from cnet

Abi James – Researcher University of Southampton.

Swype Keyboard and Dragon on mobile for messages and emails etc.

swype onscreen keyboard“I have been using the Swype Keyboard that comes with Dragon speech or voice recognition for long time on an HTC mobile running Android OS and despite the lack of a personalised voice profile, my accent, and even when used in very noisy locations like public transport or cafes, I have been very impressed by the accuracy.

Swype + Dragon is made by Nuance and uses their voice recognition server in order to convert speech-to-text.  There is a trial version on GooglePlay, but if you want to continue using, it would costs you 59p.

Dragon remote microphone is an app that allows you to use a mobile device as a remote microphone for the full version of Dragon installed on a PC or Mac, but only if the computer and the mobile device are connected on the same Wi-Fi network.

Alternatively the Goggle Keyboard (free) comes with its own speech-to-text, although in my experience it was less accurate when compared to Swype.

Speech-to-text on a portable device like an iOS iPhone/iPad or Android phone or tablet, is quite different than having Dragon NaturallySpeaking or DragonDictate installed on a PC or Mac. The speech or voice recognition process on a portable device requires an Internet connection, since the conversion/processing is made on a remote server, and not on the device itself. So literally, your recorded voice will be sent to the US, get processed in the Nuance server and then sent back to your screen.  There is no specific customisable voice profile on a portable device, that can be used in order to improve your accuracy, nor can specific words  be added to the Vocabulary. For example every time I say ‘Enrico’, Dragon on my mobile transcribes “eriko” and there is no way for me to make a correction. Also Dragon installed on a proper computer, can learn to recognise very heavy accents, the same is not true for the cloud-based services.

Look out for Dragon Anywhere an app for Android and soon iOS.

Enrico Riva

Google Drive for online storage and collaboration

google drive

Google Drive is an online tool which uses your Google account to store files online and can also be used to share files with other people and work on projects together. Being able to join in with a few others to work on a project and be able to take a break and have work still done is really useful.

Google Drive is able to create files, even from your desktop, and pick the permissions of who is allowed to edit it. More than one person can work on the file at the same time and the service has a chat panel for the people working in it, so that they can communicate. Everyone working on the file is given a colour and it shows who is typing when multiple people are working. Google Drive can also use documents from other applications to help create a project such as Google docs and Google sheets.

Google Drive is compatible Windows Vista, XP, 7, 8
Mac, mavericks (10.9), Mountain Lion (10.8), Lion (10.7)
Linux can access Google Drive through the website but the software is not available on the system
android 4.0+ and iOS 7.0+ are able to use Google drive, android 2.3-3.2 and iOS 6.0+ Can only view the files
Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer run Google Drive but require Java script

Tom, Mathematics

Siri for Calendar and Time Management.

siri screengrab

Siri asked to check appointments on 22nd September

Siri is brilliant for calendar management and time/task management, but underused, you can verbally manage your calendar/ tasks which, I personally find reduces the burden on my working memory and is more intuitive .  The speed of which I can set myself a reminder by taking the phone out of my pocket rather than searching for a pen and paper which I inevitably end up losing anyway is astounding!  I really like iOS accessibility. I definitely find low maintenance strategies with gainful upsides work well.

Useful wikihow page on how to turn on Siri

John Hodgson
Study Needs Assessor

TextHelp Read & Write Gold with Screenshot Reader grabbing references

TextHelp Read and Write Gold

I have been using TextHelp Read and Write Gold with Screenshot Reader for many years and today it was brilliant as I needed to grab some references from a PowerPoint presentation that was online.  The references were inaccessible and I really did not want to copy them all out!  I highlighted the area around the references, grabbed the content and the Text Reader window appeared.  I selected the text that had virtually kept its correct layout – Copy all and paste (Ctrl+A  and Ctrl+ V) they were added to the blog I was writing and I was able to acknowledge the original authors of the presentation and have an accessible version of their references!  See the result on our Arabic Symbol Dictionary blog!

I should add this can be achieved with any screen grab and text conversion program and programs such as ClaroRead

E.A. – Researcher – University of Southampton.

Evernote for Research

EvernoteEvernote is the “most useful app. Good layout and easy to organise my notes and research. Able to synchronise with laptop. I can use a notebook for each of my modules. I find the ability to synchronise whatever I input on iPad with laptop. Excellent for storing notes which were made earlier, easy to find, no more searching through pages in books. Far superior to Notebook+ and Notebook. This app really met my needs.”

EM University of Birmingham iPad project

 

Evernote is available for Windows, Mac, Android and Blackberry.

YouTube video –How to clip web pages to Evernote from your iPad

AudioNote for iPad & iPhone

AudioNote screen grabsAudioNote is a fantastic note taking app. The official description from the app store tells you how you can synchronise notes and audio with each key point being linked to the moment when the lecturer talks about that subject.  Because it works on a tablet or phone there is no need to wait for the laptop to boot up.

Bookmarks can be created throughout the audio recording to highlight important points for easy referencing.  It allows you to take pictures and insert them into your notes and AudioNotes can be exported to Evernote, saved and organised there. A yellow background can be used instead of white for those with visual stress/sensitivity. It costs £2.99 and is available from the iTunes store.

This YouTube video is a good introduction to AudioNote

This comes with thanks to the Disability Advisory Service at Imperial College

Speech to Text app on a mobile

“I like to generate a transcript of a lecture session and I use speech to text to dictate into my mobile or I record the session”  D.T.

There are several ways of dictating and producing text on the mobile – iPhone has built in speech recognition (Siri) for many of its apps or the use of Dragon Dictation when online that allows short paragraphs to be dictated and collected within its own note pad. Android has Dragon mobile assistant and if you want to experiment there is Utter in beta mode for commands.  It does not make the Android totally hands free, but it shows the beginning of an off/online conversation with reactions!

utter! Android Voice Command Assistant – BETA! YouTube video

Taking notes on an iPad and using iCloud

icloud“I don’t like pens and papers! Too much waste and extra cost.  I’ve been using my iPad with a stylus and several note taking/drawing apps so far. I synchronise all my notes with iCloud (it was iWorld before Apple introduced iCloud) and I’m perfectly happy – so is my room as it doesn’t have stacks of paper and pens around :>)”  Trinity – computer scientist

There are so many note taking apps and drawing apps that it is hard to advise which ones are the best but a combination of Evernote and Skitch is a good one – the Appadvice site has a note taking advice page with many more apps and the University of Exeter have a blog with a review of some more useful time management, maps, social network and note taking iPad apps. They mention WritePad that has handwriting recognition. 

WritePad for iPad YouTube Video