After 5 months ‘ad hoc’ development and a short but anxious 6 day wait in the Apple submission queue we have finally launched our ‘Social Learning’ App for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch: Loop&Learn.
Loop&Learn is more than just ‘my best ever iPhone App’, it is my best ever app… desktop, web, mobile or otherwise. It is both technically and content-wise the coolest software I’ve been lucky enough to develop.
Here’s my business partner, Neil Gerstenberg, presenting our app on YouTube:
As Neil describes in the video, Loop&Learn is a tool to help you learn ANYTHING! Right on your iPhone you can create multimedia ‘Learning Loops’ consisting of recorded audio phrases, images and text. On iPhone and iPad the audio recording works directly from the device microphone. On iPod Touch you’ll need a compatible microphone earphones for authoring but all of the study and learning loop playback is compatible without any extra hardware.
We’ve designed the authoring process to be as intuitive as possible with features such as:
- body text is auto split into loop phrases based on line/paragraph breaks – so you can easily import large learning texts into the app
- auto-record in the phrase editing screen detects silences and enables you to split up your multiple audio phrases without continuously clicking a record button
- the full current paragraph text is instantly displayed when recording each phrase
- while editing body text the app enables users to play the existing audio phrase associated with the current text cursor position
New/Edit Loop Home Screen and Body Text Editor
Phrase Record and Edit
Likewise, in study mode here are just a few handy learning features offered by our app:
- multi-gesture control: double tap to start/stop playback, swipe left and right for next/prev phrases, swipe down and up for next/prev looping groups
- single or multi-select the loop blocks at the top of the screen to split your learning into looping bite-size chunks
- 2 learning modes: ‘Repeat with me’ and ‘Listen’n'Repeat’ – the latter plays the full loop group and then repeats silently giving you the chance to repeat aloud
Saving the best for last, my favourite feature of Loop&Learn is the new collaborative learning concept it introduces: ‘social learning’.
Users of our app can share the learning loops they create via our ‘Loop Library’. All that’s required is an account with Twitter. Once a user shares one or more of their learning loops they retain ownership of the loop and can change and update it at any time via the same share and update process.
Think of the amazing possibilities that social learning offers. Language learning for example: User A is French and wants to learn English, User B is English and wants to learn French. If User A and User B create and share language loops in their native tongues then they both will benefit from the shared content!
In anticipation of launch, Neil, myself and friends have created some example loops that demonstrate how versatile the app is. Take a look at the Featured Loops page on loopandlearn.com. You’ll find learning loops for:
- Chinese Phrases
- First aid/CPR
- Local Brighton History
- Learning Poems
- Cloud Formations
- US Presidents
- French for Kids
Just a few of our examples to kick off the app. As more people purchase Loop&Learn we expect the content to grow and it will always remain free to download user generated loops so the loop library should get bigger and better
Thanks to the power of Twitter when users share new learning loops Loop&Learn sends a tweet with a link to the newly created loop preview page on our site. Like this one for example: http://www.loopandlearn.com/9ddbb9
what’s really cool is that on the top right of that preview page is a download link which when clicked on by Loop&Learn users via Safari or most iPhone Twitter clients Loop&Learn will automatically:
- launch on the iPhone
- download and install the loop being previewed
I’ve recently started work developing a new iPhone Application and have found it fairly straight forward to get up and running with Xcode, Objective-C and the iPhone SDK. I thought I’d share some of my initial experiences and recommendations to other Developers to get up and running with iPhone Development:
If, like me, you’re already comfortable with Object Oriented Programming and MVC patterns then the first thing I’d suggest you read is Apple’s Object-C Primer page here:
(You may need to create a free developer login with Apple first to read this)
This page is enough to get you up to speed with the basic Object-C syntax – how instance and static methods are written, how each class need a m and a h (header, like an Interface file in Flex).
Download Apple’s examples
The iPhone Dev Center contains a whole bunch over very useful examples that make it very quick work to get up and running building iPhone apps that make use of the components that come bundled with the iPhone SDK. These are the ones I found most helpful for my table/ tab navigator type application:
TableViewSuite – I initially downloaded this example and found it a good starting point for understanding tables and how to create data providers/sources and table delegates.
The Elements – This has been the most useful example I’ve downloaded and used so far. I’ve used this as a base for how I’ve developed my own application. It doesn’t use a single xib/nib file and to be honest I found the whole Interface Builder development made things more confusing than they needed to be. If you don’t like Interface Builder and you want to learn how to build a Table based app without it this is the example you need!
I’m loving this iPhone Development. Might have to start reselling myself as an iPhone Developer