By Paul Adams
After many months of squeezing in an hour or so here and there, I took the decision to dedicate five full days over the course of a month to creating my first iPad app. Working at a special school, I had a vision, long ago, of an an app that allowed pupils to label things around the room, in a sort of pseudo augmented reality fashion. The app would speak to pupils, linking to the word on the label; my idea was that vocabulary could be learnt in a real-time learning environment. The app would be accessible for all pupils, and would help learn key vocabulary.
After following numerous tutorials on learning Swift 2 and SpriteKit, and jumping through all of the hoops to publish on the App Store, I have now released version 1 of my app. I decided to call it Labels: Materials, with a view to later releasing more apps under the ‘Labels’ banner. It is still a way off my original vision, but the app allows pupils to label items in a picture by dragging the labels from a selection. If the label is pressed for more than a second, the label speaks its name. The app contains six different backgrounds to label, including a kitchen, a playground, a park, the beach, a street and a playroom. Photographs from the camera roll or the camera can also be used for labelling, allowing pupils to take a picture of, for example, their classroom, and label items around the room.
For my next steps, I’m intending to upgrade Labels: Materials to include a title and the ability to save an image to the camera roll. Any suggestions for future improvements are warmly welcomed from any readers or users. I’m also hoping to make the following apps using a similar template:
- Labels: school
- Labels: living things
- Labels: the home
I have enjoyed writing the app. I have to admit to having long periods of frustration when familiarising myself with XCode and Swift 2. As Swift 2 is a relatively new programming language, much of the support available online is for earlier versions of Swift or for Objective C. Most importantly, though, I am looking forward to using it in school, and hopefully enjoyed the rewards of seeing pupils benefit from its use.