Enhance Presentations with Toolbox for Keynote Mac App

Making the perfect presentation is not always intuitive. It takes a lot of creativity and time to piece together content that delivers the information the way you want it to look, flow, and be arranged on each page.

That’s where a powerful toolset comes in handy. If you use Keynote on your Mac to create presentations, and you love all that has to offer, you can enhance your experience with Keynote by downloading Toolbox for Keynote.

We all know that Keynote provides a superb development environment for presentation creation, but it does lack in variety and options for different layouts, backgrounds, images, and productivity sets. Toolbox for Keynote builds on what Keynote already has and takes it up a few notches.

Enhancements include a multitude of clipart images; preset themes and layouts with built in maps, charts and graphics to match; infographics that are clear, concise, and customizable; small graphics that are customizable, like bullets, patterns, frames, and characters; illustrations like doodles, badges, icons, and more.

What is really cool about Toolbox is that you can download it for free, check out what it has to offer, and then pick and choose the pieces you like? If you want the infographics, you can purchase that product set. If you only need the clipart images with editing feature, you can purchase Clipart Prime. If you like all of the enhancement product sets, you can purchase the full bundle, and save lots of money. The added bonus to the full bundle is that you get free updates for everything for the lifetime of the product.

I fell for the full bundle because there were so many options to choose from and it made sense to pay less for more!

After I made the in-app purchase, I sat down to play around with a practice presentation. Normally, you would open Keynote and choose a theme. Without Toolbox, there were 30 themes to choose from. With Toolbox, I had over 100 different types of themes at my disposal! I was blown away.

Toolbox for keynote

I chose my theme and started adding some basic information on each screen. Then I went back and decided on the enhancements I wanted to add. There were so many to choose from:

  • Over 700 different clipart images
  • More than 100 item sets that include doodles, icons, and more
  • More than 300 graphic styles for bullets, frames, patterns, and characters
  • Over 2100 types of diagrams, data visualization sets, charts, flags, and maps

Initially, I was overwhelmed, but I am sure that as projects come in, I will find great use for the abundant choices offered. What I really liked was that you can get new ideas by just browsing.  I thought I knew what I wanted to add, but when I looked at the different options that Toolbox offered, my mind went in a totally different direction.

The only thing I could possibly offer as an improvement to the app is to offer smaller bundles. I like the full bundle, but I can see a lot of folks who use a certain smaller grouping of product sets getting excited about being able to get a discount on a trio.

I can see in-app sales boosted by offering these smaller packages, as a full on $49.99 purchase can be daunting. I love my full bundle and I get lost in the app just browsing and trying things out. I don’ t have a project on hand to create, so I am doing my best to immerse myself in Toolbox for Keynote so I am at the ready when I get the next deliverable! This app is also available for iOS.

Get in a Fight, Berenstain Bears – An Interactive, Educational App

When my kids used to watch The Berenstain Bears, all I could think of was how much I wanted to climb up and down the stairs of the treehouse, run around the yard with Sister and Brother Bear, and eat pie.

If you’re scratching your head, then let me explain. The Berenstain Bears is a series of books written by Stan and Jan Berenstain that center around a loveable family of bears. There’s Papa, Mama, Sister, and Brother Bear.

Their stories are just like ours. They are a family with kids that try to teach about good manners and how to be helpful. The Berenstain Bears Get in a Fight follows the book of the same title, bringing the story, the settings and the fun to life.

This app creatively takes every page of the book, animates them and adds additional activities that keep kids wondering and playing, all while they learn.

Yes, the app does have a purpose behind it. It’s basically an interactive book with learning activities. Wanderful has done an amazing job at creating the app and then also providing a detailed resource that teacher and parents can use to extract even more value for their kids.

In this story, Brother and Sister Bear are acting as typical siblings do. On this particular morning, they have woken up grumpy and tired, and the friction doesn’t stop there. The fighting continues throughout the day until Mama and Papa can take no more. In fact, the siblings get to a point where they can’t even remember why they were fighting to begin with.

This book allows parents to teach their kids to read, and then it goes beyond that with teaching important life lessons. Get in a Fight centers around avoiding arguments and disagreement; and, when do occur, how to deal with them without letting them get out of hand.

Key Elements in the App include:

  • Multiple languages: English and Spanish are included, and Portuguese is available for a $1.99 in app purchase.
  • Every page contains automatic animation, including extended multi-scene animations on tow pages.
  • All pages have items that come to life when tapped
  • Words are highlighted when spoken, during narration, or tapped
  • Hidden surprises abound throughout the app – prompting kids to explore even more
  • Easy navigation: swipe or tap to move to the next or previous page
  • Two Modes: “Read to Me” or “Let Me Play”
  • Parental and teacher controls that allow settings to be defined for different viewer ages

I really could not find any downside to this app, except for the fact that it may be wise to download it on your Mac or iPad. Trying to read the words from an iPhone is quite difficult and may defeat the purpose of the app altogether.

Other than that, I could not see anything that would stop me from buying this Get In A Fight, Berenstain Bears. I don’t think you can find a better interactive app that helps kids learn while they play; and, the storyline that is offered in this app is of the utmost quality. I would not mind if my kids spent hours on this app, because I know they would be learning so many great lessons.

Harry and the Haunted House Newly Reincarnated as an App

While the story may be 18 years old, it remains as interesting and entertaining as ever as newly reincarnated as an app.

Yes, you heard me correctly. The folks at Wanderful have taken the wonderful story of Harry and his adventures within a haunted house, and have made it a place where kids can wander and wonder about the words they see before them.

An interactive children’s book, Harry and the Haunted House is well designed and well worth the $4.99 sticker price. Every detail you see in the book has been painstakingly emulated in the app. Each page presents with animation and color that brings the old story book to life – why didn’t we have this when we were growing up!

As the explorer of the book, you are offered two ways to experience it. You can be read to, allowing you to sit back and hear the story while you enjoy the various animations that pop up around the screen. The second choice is to explore on your own. This allows you to read the story, tap on items you see on the screen, and swipe the pages back and forth. This option also allows you to listen to the narration while you tap away.

Parents should be fully aware that the app is completely safe for kids of all ages. However, if you still feel the need to put some boundaries in place so kids don’t feel too liberated, you can check out the settings under the home screen:

    • Skip the title page
    • Bookmark setting can be turned on/off. It allows you to resume from where you left off, is on by default but can be turned off
    • Patience Mode: allows you to choose a setting that controls whether or not kids can interrupt narration – a useful feature for the smaller user community
    • Page Swipe
    • Highlight Hotspots: Anything with animation or interchange is surrounded by a red box. Making it easier for preschoolers to find the activities.

Currently running in English and Spanish, the app can also be set in French for a $1.99 in app purchase; and for $2.99, you can get a premium purchase. This allows teachers and home schoolers access to curriculum that is valuable, bringing an even more enhanced experience to the app.

Harry and the Haunted House comes with a 12-page overview of activities and ideas that go beyond the app experience, and will have kids asking for more. They will ask more questions about the story, more questions about Harry, and may even be inspired to create their own storyline.

The only small improvement I would suggest is adding future upgrades where the animations on each page differ with every instance you visit. Kids are smart, and may get bored watching the same animation every time they go through the story and see the same movements on the same page.

But that is easily overcome by just immersing yourself in the storyline and enjoying what’s before you. I have never seen an interactive book that is so well designed and executed. Having kids actually learn something from it is the bonus.

Make My Family Turns Friends and Family into Toons

Looking for some fun times with friends and family? Then you have to download Make My Family! It’s an amusing app that takes any kind of picture and morphs it into a cartoon. Many of us have always wondered what we would look like if we were a cartoon, and now is your chance to find out.

Imagine the laughs you’ll get when you upload a pic of your cousin, to see what the app will do. Prominent features become the focal point of the toon version of his face.

The app is a free download, and works on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch, provided you have iOS 8.1 of later running. It’s a large app, over 1MB, so be sure to have WiFi when you start the download process.

Once you download, you will find the interface to be fairly easy to use. To turn a picture into an amusing depiction of someone, you can choose a photo from the photos on your device, upload from a location, or take one right then and there.

Once the app has its hands on an image, it will immediately go to work capturing every small detail and transforming it into something that is funny and will have everyone rolling on the floor.

The app not only provides entertainment value, but can be used as a safety tool, as well. How can that be, you ask? Well, think of all the apps on which you have uploaded a profile picture. It’s fun to show people who you are, but sometimes you don’t want to share too much.

Now you can create a toon of yourself and use that!

Make My Family

Ok, now back to the app. The app will automatically transform a real image and turn it into a cartoon; but, you can work your artistic magic, too. You can select from a myriad of options to customize your creation:

  • Choose from a wide selection of body types – if you want to get really funny, choose one that’s not true to life
  • Pick a hairstyle – it may be just like the one the person has, or you can see what they’ll look like in a different do
  • Clothes: pick your pieces and create the outfit to add to the effect. If you are going for the funny look, you know what to do.
  • Accessories – this is where your cartoon gets character. Choose from jewelry, hair adornments, hobby-related equipment, sports they love, and more. Do they wear glasses; the app has those, too.

Cartoons you create don’t have to stay on your device. You can also print images and use them on postcards and posters. Imagine the fun you’ll have creating a poster for a friend. They can make great gifts.

The only downside I saw to the app was its size. It is an extremely large app for what it does, and there are others out there that don’t take up as much space. I would also like to see some direct compatibility with social media, so connectivity is seamless and automatic – you can use what you’ve created immediately.

On a lighter note, once you successfully download, you will get hours of fun out of this Make My Family. Kids especially will love it!

Let Your Kids Race like the Tortoise & the Hare

Remember the familiar tale of the Tortoise & Hare told by Aesop that entertained while teaching important life lessons? While the art of storytelling has evolved over the years, thanks to technology, we can still share these valuable stories in a medium that attracts kids in today’s world.

Wanderlust has taken Aesop’s famous tale and turned it into an experience for kids of all ages. For those who don’t know how to read or are just learning to read, there is the narration option. This option allows kids to have the story read to them. They can also tap on words to hear them individually sounded out. This helps them learn to read.

For those kids who already know how to read, they can flip through the pages at their own pace.

In addition to the reading aspect, this app brings both Tortoise and Hare to life, along with all the things that surround them.

If you choose to be read to, the app starts off with a Alistair Cooke-like host, sitting in an armchair by a warm fire, with book open and eye wide. He introduces himself and gets ready to take you on your adventure.

If you choose the Play option, you can tap on trees, rocks and doors to see character come out, do dances, birds fly, and more.

What’s really neat about the app is that you can turn on other languages. Available options include UK English and French. If you are looking to teach your kids French, what better way than to immerse them in stories written and told in the language? If you make an in-app purchase, you can get the app in German, as well.

Additional Features include:

  • Each language offers over 500 interactive words
  • Word play spread across 12 completely interactive pages
  • Actionable items across every page
  • Hidden surprises powered by animation
  • Move through the book in two way, swipe to the next or previous page, or scroll
  • Tips for parents and teachers, helping them present the activities to kids in the most productive way
  • Classroom Activities and a free preview of the Tortoise and the Hare Classroom Activities guide

There were a few pages where only a few animated sequences were found. I would also like to see more interactive items even when the child is using the “Read to Me” option. Maybe those interactions can be enabled after the narration on the page completes.

For a small price, Tortoise and the Hare brings a world of value and entertainment all wrapped up into one. Your kids will be mesmerized and educated at the same time, without even knowing it. Any app that you can find that does that is well worth the price; and this app is just $4.99.

Wanderfuls has succeeded in marrying technology with tradition, bringing famous fables to kids, so we can share important lessons and help our kids grow up to be responsible members of society.

Trail the tail – Fun App Where Kids Follow, Find and Learn About Animals

Kids love to learn and explore, but don’t always have the opportunity to experience firsthand different places and things. When it comes to a love of animals, they love to see and hear and learn about what each type is all about. The zoo is a great place to show kids a little about the exotic animals that live on the African savanna; but a better way to introduce those animals in a more interactive and fun way is through Thematica’s Trail the tail app.

Trail the tail runs on iPad and magically transports little ones to a new place, with different games, activities and animations to keep eyes wandering and fingers tapping. A tail swishes and wiggles mysteriously and quickly disappears, inviting kids to explore the savanna that is home to a variety of animals we don’t often see.

The app is an interesting mix of entertainment and education, keeping kids searching for animals, turning over rocks, moving aside branches and seeing firsthand how savanna animals live and behave. Navigation is as a simple as a tap. There are no complicated or rushed actions needed. Kids and adults alike will take simple pleasure in moving around the various venues offered by the app.

To start, the main screen offers up three major areas to explore, denoted by three buttons spread across the bottom. Tap on any one of them; there is no specific order to follow or complete. Each button takes you to a different area of the savanna with different types of activities.

Trail the tail

Each area then offers its own set of activities, animals to watch and learn about. In some places, a camera is given, and kiddos must take snapshots of the animal when it makes itself available. This involves careful placement of the camera so that the animal falls within the boundaries of the lens, and then a quick snap! The photo is taken and can be saved in a frame by tapping on it. Kids will see a line of empty frames waiting to be filled. Once completed, kids then move on to the next adventure by tapping on a leaf that quietly waves hello. If kids don’t quite get the clue, have no fear; because the app conveniently offers up an arrow showing you where to go. 

Returning to the main screen is always available by tapping on the “return” icon that sits at the top left of the screen. Activities left undone will revert back to the start, so kids will have to start from scratch filling frames or finding things. Another type of activity offered includes feeding different types of animals. In a much understated way, kids will learn the types of foods each animal can and will eat, and which types don’t work. This is done by dragging food items near the animal’s mouth, and seeing if the mouth opens wide open with bright eyes to boot, or if they shut in agony. Through game-play, kids learn about eating habits.

Being such a simple app, there is not much lacking but for an increase in challenge or something to work towards. Each activity or game is fun to play, but there are no points accumulated or treasures to uncover, which may entice kids to try a bit harder. Nonetheless, Trail the tail is a great way to keep little ones a bit busy, in search of mysteries that are hidden, only to uncover a new animal while learning something about it.

DraftCode – A Powerful PHP Web App Development Tool

Web app development has skyrocketed in demand with the increase of traffic online and life in general moving towards the Cloud. Every person uses web sites in one way or another; either to shop, register for classes, tap into a portal from the doctor’s office or just surf for something to do. We are all on the internet more than we spend time sleeping, it seems. To support all of this, we have web apps.

Any kind of software development most people think of usually requires the use of sophisticated development environments, access to servers and connectivity to other machines so pieces of code can be captured or called to complete a function. In web app development, much of this connectivity can be self-contained. You are mainly developing to add increased functionality to a web site or page, possible providing interconnectivity between other sites. However, in the grand scheme of things, not much is needed in terms of external servers.

Yet, most development environments require just that: a connection to the internet and to servers. This can lend itself to limitation on where you can take your creativity; and, in web page and app development, you want flexibility. DraftCode PHP provides that flexibility and more on your iPad, all in the palm of your hands. When you first download this app, which is not too pricey for something that will allow you to make beaucoup bucks. It has an extremely simple interface for something that allows you to make complicated and deeply functional apps. The interface can also be customized to help you make the most of your experience on the iPad. Color schemes, backgrounds, fonts and more are all choices you can make to make it easier for you to decipher and decode.

DraftCode

Web app development should not be a chore. It should be labor of creativity. Having a place to perform it on your iPad means you can take it with you and make changes when and where you want. Creativity must not wait for a computer. It should be captured when it occurs. Coding for WordPress? It’s supported. Coding for Flatpress? Ditto. The app supports PHP 5.4.23 and allows developers to develop offline themes and plugins, while testing in a fully functional runtime environment. You will run app as if they were running for real on the internet and rendered on Safari.

Extensions supported include Sqlite3, MySQL, PDO, OpenSSL, libxml and ZIP, so developers will not want for more. Although, the creators of DraftCode promise more is to come. Cookies, forms and sessions as needed are all basics that make for reality while developing, so there are no surprises when the app is released. Files can be moved around, shared and imported, so ideas can be reused with ease. DraftCode can tap into the iPad’s camera roll and photo storage to make use of graphics you’ve already got. See an image you want to use on the spot and use it. This environment has opened its doors and made it possible to see more and connect.

A bit of help or instructions on the app itself would have been extremely useful. It took me a few tries to figure out what each icon represented and effects it would have. Yet, for a small price, this app provides a great deal of convenience and power in hand held machine that becomes your very own server that serves up your creation.

Artistic App Brings Alice’s Wonderland to Life

I am not a big fan of reading e-books simply because I cling to the old ways and languish in feeling crisp paper between my fingers while listening to the rustle of paper as I turn pages to reveal more about a story I’ve become entrenched in. However, for lovers of Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland,” there is a book app available in the iPad that makes you forget about all that and literally transports you into Wonderland alongside Alice, as if you are dreaming.

The Alice App, created by Emmanuel Paletz, is literary creation that takes the well-known novel of “Alice in Wonderland,” surrounds it with imagery and interactivity in a way that engages, whether you are reading it or entranced by the enchanting narration. Follow the reader as he guides you on the path that Alice takes, down the rabbit hole, to a tea party, at the Red Queen’s Palace, and on the lookout for the Cheshire Cat.

The app is a easy download and comes with instructions, although these may not be needed by younger users. Simple by nature, but ornate in appearance, the app presents itself as a book in landscape mode. The very first page, or main page, allows the user to choose whether or not they wish to read the book or hear the narrator. You can also set the sound level of the music and narration and learn more about how to use the app under the Instructions page.

The Alice App screenshot

As a default, the app is setup for narration. Tap on Start and soar through the pages. The app displays two pages at a time, with some pages being full illustrations. These illustrations are like paintings that come to life. Tap away on the screen and see what moves or jiggles. Reveal puzzles and brain teasers to make the story stick better and take it to a new level. Kids these days need more than just words. Technology feeds into our five senses helping us to actively experience rather than just passively receive.

As you pass through the story, try tipping the iPad this way and that. This action also reveals new actions in the illustrations to keep the young ones engaged. Flipping from page to page is done by swiping upward from the bottom corners, either the left or right, depending on which direction you want to go. Need to skip to another chapter? No problem. Tap on the green satin bookmark that rests at the top center, nicely nestled between the two pages, and it will present a window with pages you can swiftly tap to.

This app knows no bounds. It has taken a classic story, maintained its richness, and added an new level of value by making it interactive, filled with animation, activity, and audio. I cannot say much in terms of what it lacks. The only thing that took a while to understand was how to navigate back and forth to the main page, but by being a bit inquisitive and tapping away, I found, by accident, the power of the bookmark. This led me to the navigation window and the ability to “get out” when need be.

If you are looking for an e-book that takes you back to the days when you enjoyed Alice, and you wish to share it with your young one, or just experience it in a whole new way, The Alice App is a must to download.

Teach How to Read with Little Lost Note

Learning how to read can be a daunting task for any child. Pressure to read early is mounting to the point that if kids entering kindergarten are not reading above grade level, they are already behind. Well, at least it seems that way.

If you are looking for unique ways to teach your kids how to read that can supplement traditional methods, Box of Frogs Media has created the ultimate in interactive reading with a story that captivates kids and keeps parents happy at the same time. The story is about a musical note called Little Lost Note. She has lost her instrument and cannot make a sound. Each page is adorned with hand-drawn illustrations of Little Lost Note, calming scenery and a few friends she meets along the way. On each page, kids, who will always be kids, are welcome to tap and swipe away to reveal hidden animations. These include clouds dancing across the sky, frogs croaking and birds chirping. These sounds tie into the quest for sound that Little Note so desperately needs to find.

The app is fittingly designed to allow for narration to be turned ON or OFF. You can let the pleasant voice of the narrator guide you through the story, as each word lights up when spoken. You also have the option to let your little one soothe to sleep resting on the vibrations of your comforting voice. If you are reading during the day, then there is a brighter screen setting. Want to read at night? Turn on the Night Light, set by tapping the Zzz’s on the top left corner, and watch as it dims to serenity.

little lost note screenshot 2

The only issue I had, and this may just be me being a clumsy adult, was swiping from page to page, either forward or backward. I would have a hard time finding that right spot along either the left or right side of the screen to touch and swipe. It took some time before I figured out just where to touch. The page would actually lift up a bit to signal the right spot was engaged. A minor issue, but one that got my attention. I would expect kids to pick this up very quickly, as they always do when it comes to technology!

Besides this small issue, Little Lost Note was extremely engaging and well thought out. The idea that kids can hear and see words as they follow a story, made all the sense in the world. It is an amazing way to learn how to read. Involving several senses at once brings success faster, science has shown. What is learned stays with you longer because of the several connections that are made simultaneously. I would highly recommend this app to any and all parents whose kids are learning to read and need that extra help to supplement traditional methods. It’s also a great app for those with tiny toddlers who fight the sandman at night. I found myself lulled into complete calmness by the time I reached the last page.