Tag Archives: camera

Android for teachers: simple, tasty photos for the web

One thing I really like about my Android phone (LG P500) is the camera feature. It’ll never replace my real camera but it’s always with me, so I can take a quick snap even when I’m teaching. Plus there are imaging apps which make it a great tool for fast and easy creation of images.

For example, Vignette is a camera app for Android which has a free demo version as well as a paid version. The free version is limited to .3M pixel images, but these are fine for small illustrative images on a web page. The software has a wide range of effects which are fast and easy to use. And they provide some useful tweaks for web display.

For example, some of these effects produce a small square image (about 500 x 500) with a white border. So it’s really easy to produce a web-optimised image that is small and fast to download and has a built in margin for text wrapping. The image shown here is just 49KB and uses the Velvia filter which increases colour saturation. It’s not a great photo, but I love how fast and easy it is to capture an image like this, all ready for sharing on the web.

And because Android is a very ‘open’ OS, once you’ve captured the image there are many options for sharing it. Vignette will send the photo to Twitter, Facebook, email or other apps you use. I use the WordPress app which allows me to edit posts and pages on my phone, and Android makes it easy to send the photo directly from Vignette to a new WordPress post. Again, fast and easy – and a lot more flexible than just having a ‘Send via email’ option which I got used to on an iPhone.

Where there is a need for high resolution and high quality images a phone camera is not going to be appropriate. But where all that’s needed is a quick informal snap, a phone camera can be a great tool. Many of the teachers I work with don’t find it easy to get to grips with optimising images for the web. An Android phone* with Vignette is an easy way to get images into a blog or an LMS like Moodle, and it also integrates well with many of the social software platforms they use. I’d recommend it as a useful tool for teachers wanting a simple and convenient way to enhance their online presence with images.

* Note: not all phone cameras are equal. I chose one with 3 MP resolution and macro capability, but no flash as I prefer to use natural light anyway. Others will have very different needs.

Is the iPad just too big?

The ideal form factor of a hand-held mobile computing device is always going to involve lots of trade-offs:

  • If you use it for reading and browsing, roughly the size of a book seems sensible. To me, the current iPad seems a good size for this purpose, although Paul Miller thinks the iPad is too big even as a reading device.
  • If you use it as a phone, you want something you can hold to your ear comfortably. The iPad is just too big. Anything much bigger than (say) an iPhone and you’ll need a bluebooth headset or accessory. More stuff to cart around.
  • If you use it as a camera, you need to be able to hold it up to your face. Again, the iPad is too big, so an external camera would be needed and more stuff to cart around.

Steve Jobs clearly states that the iPad won’t get any smaller and that for many purchasers it will replace the laptop computer. But one of the strengths of the laptop is the relatively open connectivity provided for both hardware and software. The iPad doesn’t (yet) provide such an open plug-and-play system.

The iPad is a beautiful device but is not yet the ideal touch-screen device for me. If it’s going to be this big, it needs to be more capable of real work and not rely on closed proprietary OS features. Personally, I’d prefer it about half the size it is now, all ready to go everywhere with me as a phone, camera, browser, email client, and app platform with no other devices or accessories needed. Maybe I need to look to Android rather than iOS?