I have difficulty writing numbers and mathematical symbols legibly if I’m required to use pen or pencil, and am not able to make the characters very large. I know that I’m not alone in this regard. Now there is a way for anyone to use finger or stylus to enter handwritten numbers and symbols into a calculator on an Android or iOS handheld device. On a tablet, I can make the figures large enough to be almost legible!
MyScript Calculator is a free app for both Android and iOS devices from VisionObjects. It offers a “handwriting calculator” that works remarkably well. I’ve only tested it with my finger, not a stylus, but the app has no difficulty understanding my rather large and somewhat messy scrawl. The calculator works just as well for basic computation as it does for more complex mathematics.
I’ve embedded a video below that does a nice job of illustrating what this app can do. The video shows the app on Android. When I tried it on my iPad, it functioned identically. Numerical expressions can be copied easily and used in other apps.
In my view, Android stands head and shoulders above iOS in terms of options for text input on handheld devices. On my Android tablet or phone, I can choose the default keyboard from a helpful range of choices. I’m a pretty good touch typer, but I can enter text most efficiently with a keyboard that allows me to trace my fingers, without lifting them, from one letter to the next in a word on the keyboard. This is illustrated below on the Path Input keyboard. Apple doesn’t allow alternatives to its default keyboard, so this keyboard is available only within the app, but it’s easy to move text entered in Path Input to other apps.
Since each learner is unique, I believe it is imperative that each be introduced to a wide a range of learning tools and possibilities. There are many who struggle with written output, and this kind of text input would probably be helpful for some.
Path Input is currently available as a free app for iPad. There’s also a free Lite Version, as well as a Pro Version at $3.99, for iPhone and iPod Touch. The app does a good job of suggesting the word you might have meant, in case you didn’t get it quite right. Spaces are automatically inserted after words. The Shift key enables you to capitalize a word or to enter the word in all-caps, by tapping the key more than once.
On the iPad version of the app, I think it’s a major bonus to have the number keypad available, alongside the letters, as shown above. Path Input is available for several languages, and this list appears to be growing.
Shown below is a screenshot of Path Input Pro for the iPhone or iPod Touch.
You will have to take my word for it, but I am writing this with my eyes closed! I am using an amazing keyboard on my iPad, and I am able to do this after only about ten minutes of learning and practice.
Fleksy is a new method of text input that has been developed for blind people who use devices with touch screens. Fleksy’s developers are encouraging sighted users to give it a try as well. I believe Fleksy holds promise not just for the millions who want to enter text while walking or doing other tasks, but also for individuals with limited physical dexterity.
I’ve tried Fleksy on my iPad and found it to be remarkably effective. Controlled with a few simple gestures, it’s easy to learn and to use. The only prerequisite is familiarity with the layout of the QWERTY keyboard. Along with clear auditory feedback, Fleksy’s effectiveness is based in a powerful word prediction engine that is incredibly accurate.
Fleksy is currently available in the iTunes Store as a free download for iPhone and iPad. The free app enables the user to try Fleksy, but an in-app purchase for $1.99 enables text created in Fleksy to be sent and/or used elsewhere. Developers are inviting beta testers for an Android version.
Here’s a high quality promotional video from the developers.
The term ‘cross-platform’ has added meaning in the era of tablets and eBook readers. Here’s an application that is available on any computer that runs the Google Chrome web browser. The app is available from the Chrome Web Store, as well as for Android, iOS and Amazon devices!
MangoReader is an interactive eBook reader from India that runs on almost any tablet or conventional computer. The app is free, as are many of the titles in the MangoReader Store. Prices for most other books are not more than $0.99. Most books are in English, but a few Hindi titles are also available. The majority of the books are stories for young learners, but a growing number of Indian text books are offered for secondary classes as well.
Although MangoReader is intended primarily for the Indian market, many books in the MangoReader store would enrich learners from any culture. Check out the free ‘Vayu the Wind’ as an excellent example. One page of that book is shown below, as it appears in the Google Chrome app.
As is the case with most MangoReader stories, this one is read aloud beautifully by a child while the word being read is tracked. There are options for highlighting text, for taking notes, for looking up definitions of words, and more. Textbooks include videos and other interactive material.
Here’s a free iPad app that has achieved near perfection. You can now use the iPad camera, even the camera on an iPad 2, to photograph text and import it as editable text into PaperPort Notes. If the imported text retained the formatting of the original page, I think I’d call the app perfect.
PaperPort Noteswas already one of the most versatile and polished iOS apps available for supporting written output.
Text can be entered with keyboard, via voice-to-text, or with stylus. As well, audio recordings can be attached to notes.
Notes can be written on yellow or white lined pages, on blank white pages, or on “graph paper”.
PDF files, can be imported from almost anywhere–PaperPort Anywhere (dedicated free cloud storage), Box, Dropbox, Docs Folder, Files/Snapshots from the Web, the iPad’s Clipboard, camera images.
Text boxes and sticky notes can be added to notes and imported files.
Multi-color highlighting is available.
Work created or modified in PaperPort Notes can be shared in PaperPort Anywhere, by Email, Google Docs, Box, Dropbox, Docs Folder (with audio attached to PDF). Or PaperPort Notes can be opened in many other apps on the iPad.
Now you can use the iPad’s camera to capture text, then the text can be imported into PaperPort Notes as editable text. With ‘Speak Selection’, this text can even be read aloud. Alternatively, you can import images of text that are stored on the iPad. You need to sign up for a free account with the OCR engine, but once the account is set up, it could hardly be easier to import converted images of text.
To import an image of converted text, simply click on the ‘Image to Text’ button. Then follow the prompts on the screen that opens. After processing, the imported text appears on the panel at the right. If desired, the text can be edited before inserting into your note.