Learn To Drive Bundle now available for iPad

With the release of iOS 8, Apple has finally made it possible to by app bundles. This means that developers can choose to combine several apps into a bundle and sell them together on the App Store with a discount.

I've had quite a few requests for the ability to buy my animated "Learn To Drive" series of apps all together, so I'm very pleased to be able to say that these nine apps are now available as a bundle for £25.99, a saving £4.42 (or 17%) off the cost of buying them all individually.

These nine apps provide animated visuals for your lesson briefings on the following topics:

• Controls
• Position
• Emergency Stop
• Manoeuvres
• Pedestrian Crossings
• Give Way junctions
• Traffic Lights
• Roundabouts
• Dual Carriageways.

You can find the Learn To Drive Bundle here, or by opening the App Store on your iPad and searching for "Learn To Drive Bundle".

If you already own one or more of the apps in the series, you can still take advantage of the bundle offer by using Apple's "Complete My Bundle" feature. This means you will be refunded whatever you have already paid for apps in the bundle, and will instead be charged the bundle price to own all the apps in the bundle.

You can find out more about the apps in the Learn To Drive series by going to the apps page.

UPDATE:

With very little warning, Apple has raised prices for apps in the App Store. This is to offset rises in VAT rates due to new EU legislation.

If bought individually, the total cost of all apps in the bundle is now £35.71.

The bundle price has now risen to £27.99.

The total saving from buying the bundle now sits at around 22%.

See all the reviews of an App Store app

One of the quirks of Apple's App Store is that every time a new version of an app is uploaded, the previous reviews for that app are hidden. This can leave you looking at an app listing that says "No Ratings" when in fact a whole load of people have already rated and reviewed the app.

This guide to shows you how to reveal all the reviews for an app in the App Store.

First, look up an app on the App Store and select the "Reviews" tab.

Review1

If the app has been recently updated and nobody has added a review since the update, you will see something like this:

Review2

This is because the App Store is only showing you the reviews for the current version of the app (i.e. the recent update). To see all the reviews, you have to select the "All Versions" tab.

Review3

Hey presto! All the reviews for that app now appear.

I'm not sure why Apple is intent on hiding all these previous reviews, but I certainly like to reveal them whenever I'm considering buying an app.

How to force quit an app in iOS 7

The process for force quitting an app has changed slightly in iOS 7. Follow these steps to close an app which is misbehaving, and return it to the default state.

1. Enter the app switching screen by double tapping the home button. On an iPad, you can also swipe up on the screen with four fingers (Multitasking Gestures must be enabled in Settings for this).

BeforeSwipe

2. Flick up on the image of the app you want to quit. Make sure you're flicking up on the screenshot of the app itself, not the icon at the bottom of the screen.

AfterSwipe

That's it!

You can force quit two or even three apps at a time using this method, though I can't actually think of a situation in which you would need to do that.

Get started with iOS backups

If you're unsure how to get started with backing up your iPad or iPhone? This Apple Knowledge Base article is a great place to start…

iOS 7: Some issues in Records

I've received a couple of reports of things not working entirely as expected in my Records app after updating to iOS 7. The problems all seem to be related to the Pupil Details section of the app. I'm already working on an update to Records and hope to have everything back to normal very soon. In the meantime, if you use Records and you haven't already updated to iOS 7, it might be worth waiting a bit longer until these issues are resolved.

UPDATE 11/10/13: Get the latest Records update for bug fixing goodness!

Add a Robosoul shortcut to your home screen

It's simple to add a shortcut to any webpage to the home screen of your iPad or iPhone. I've added some nice little Robosoul icons to my site, so when you bookmark one of my pages it'll look good on your device. Here's how to add a shortcut to the Robosoul home page:

1. Open Safari on your iPhone or iPad and navigate to www.robosoul.co.uk

2. Tap the action button. This is at the top of the screen on an iPad and at the bottom of the screen on an iPhone. You will be presented with a menu that looks something like this:

AddIcon1

3. Select "Add to Home Screen". You will be prompted to give the shortcut a name. Type an appropriate name into the box.

AddIcon2

4. Tap "Add", then exit Safari and behold the lovely new icon on your home screen. Tapping this icon will open Safari and take you directly to the web page you have just bookmarked.

AddIcon3

Better safe than sorry

I'm expecting the latest version of Records to become available any day now. Here's a tip: whenever you're about to download an update for an app that contains vital data, it's a good idea to do a full backup of your device immediately beforehand. If anything goes wrong, you can do a full restore to get back to normal. There's no reason why anything should go wrong when installing the update, but where data is concerned it's better to be safe than sorry!

iOS 6 latest

A quick update on what's been happening with iOS app updates and bug fixes:

Road Pad & Road Pad Mini
Both these apps were affected by Apple's move away from Google Maps. I've made available temporary updates for users of iOS 6. These updates replace Apple's maps with Google Maps.

I've also completed work on further updates to both of these apps, which have been submitted to Apple for approval but are not yet live on the App Store. These latest updates support iOS 5 & 6. They allow the user to choose between using Apple's maps or Google Maps. Both updates also include other usability enhancements. They should be available to download in the next few days.

Controls
iOS 6 caused an issue in the Controls app which prevented the handbrake demonstrator from working. An updated version of the app which fixes this bug has been submitted to Apple and should be available to download in the next few days.

Records & Give Way
Both these apps have been updated to fix bugs caused by iOS 6. Both updates are available to download from the App Store now.

UPDATE: Controls update has gone live, but another bug has surfaced! See here for details. Road Pad 1.4 has also gone live. See here for details.

FURTHER UPDATE: Road Pad Mini 1.2 is now live as well. See here for details.

iOS 6 status update

I know some of you have been experiencing problems with my apps since the update to iOS 6. I've been working hard to get the issues resolved, and I'm pleased to report that things are well on the way to being back to normal. Here's a summary of what's been happening:

Records
Users of iOS 6 might have noticed some strange colours when using Records. This has been fixed and the update is available to download now. The update recommended for all users. It also includes a user interface improvement for iPad users.

Give Way
iOS 6 caused some major issues with Give Way. I've fixed the bug and submitted an updated version of the app to Apple. The update is awaiting their approval and should become available any day now. The update will not change anything for users running iOS 5.

Road Pad Mini (iPhone app)
Road Pad Mini lost access to Google Maps and satellite images with the iOS 6 update. I submitted a workaround which has been approved by Apple. The update is recommended for users running iOS 6 who want to return to using Google Maps. If you're happy with the Apple maps, you should not download the update to Road Pad Mini. Users still running iOS 5 will not be able to update for the time being as the latest version only supports iOS6. This is because the older version offers better performance optimised for iOS 5. Users of the new iPhone 5 will notice a bug that prevents drawing in the lower 1/5th of the screen. A fix for this bug has been submitted and is waiting for approval.

Road Pad (iPad app)
Road Pad also lost access to Google Maps and satellite images with the iOS 6 update. I've submitted a workaround which is still awaiting approval from Apple. If/when it becomes available, the update is recommended for users running iOS 6 who want to return to using Google Maps. Again, if you're happy with the Apple maps, you should not download the update. Users still running iOS 5 will not be able to install the update. Better performance will be achieved by sticking with the older version and sticking with iOS 5.

UPDATE: The Give Way update has now been approved. It should be available to download before the end of today (Thursday 27th).

Another reason to wait before getting iOS 6

If you've taken the plunge and updated to iOS 6 in the past couple of days, you might have noticed one of the backgrounds in Records turn a funny colour. This is one of the more bizarre bugs I've ever seen, but there's no need to be alarmed: the app still works fine.

This morning I posted an update which fixes the issue, as well as improving the way the app deals with adding notes on the iPad.

Now you have to specifically dismiss a notes field when you're editing it. This means you cannot accidentally dismiss it by tapping outside it on the screen, which could cause you to lose anything you've already typed into the box.

As usual, the update will take a week or so to go through Apple's approval process before it's available to download.

It's frustrating to have to do this update now, as I've almost finished implementing a whole new feature in the app: the ability to store payment information. Payments will be coming soon in another update. For now, I thought it more important to release the fix for the colour issue as soon as possible.

Is it a good idea to update to iOS 6?

In a word, no. At least not yet, and certainly not if you appreciate the excellence of Google Maps, with its impressively high-resolution satellite images and the incredible Street View.

In iOS 6, Apple has entirely replaced Google's map services with it's own mapping service. Apple's maps have a lot going for them, but good quality satellite images are not one of those things.

This is of particular concern if you're a driving instructor who regularly uses Road Pad or Road Pad Mini as a teaching aid. With iOS 6, Apple has unceremoniously dumped Google Maps out of the Road Pad apps and replaced it with their own half-baked offering.

From my point of view, this is by far the most annoying thing Apple has done for a long time.

Put simply: if you update your iPad/iPhone to iOS 6 you will temporarily lose a lot of the core functionality of Road Pad and/or Road Pad Mini.

By temporarily I mean a period of time that could be anything from around a week to a couple of years. Why the uncertainty? Read on...

Why it may be as little as a week:
I've already started implementing a fix that returns the Road Pad apps back to using Google Maps. However, assuming the fix works, it will have to be approved by Apple. There is no telling whether or not they will go quietly or kick up a fuss and try to prevent me from going back to the old ways. This is a political matter between Apple and Google and something us mere mortals can have no real understanding of.

Why it may be as much as a couple of years:
If the workaround can't get past Apple's App Store approval process, we will just have to sit tight and wait for the quality of Apple's satellite images to improve. How long this will take is anyone's guess, but I'd estimate at least a few months, maybe more, for good coverage across the UK.

Another reason not to update your software yet is that, with iOS 6, some problems have emerged (ha ha!) in my Give Way app. The cars have a tendency to disappear in the Emerging and Crossroads section. This kind of quirky bug is a fairly typical outcome of a major operating system update. It won't take long to rectify, but will take at least a week to pass through Apple's approval system. If you want to keep using Give Way as normal, please stay away from iOS 6 until the update is posted.

UPDATE 25-09-12: The updated version of Road Pad Mini is now live on the App Store. This version will only install if you're running iOS 6. It replaces the Apple Maps with Google Maps. You can use the satellite images and also Street View. The update to Road Pad is still awaiting review by Apple.

UPDATE 03-10-12: Click here to read the latest on iOS 6 app updates and bug fixes.

Staying backed up

If you use your iPhone or iPad as much as I do, it probably holds a lot of important data you don't ever want to lose. It's a good idea to ensure you are making regular backups just in case anything bad happens.

You can do this the manual way, or the automatic way. This support document from Apple does a good job of explaining how it works.

Two ways to force quit an app

In a perfect world, all software would work perfectly all the time. Unfortunately, bugs are a part of life, and every now and again you can find yourself needing to completely flush an app from memory so the next time you launch it, it starts up in its default state.

This is called "force quitting". Force quitting does not delete the app from your device, nor does it delete any saved data. It simply restarts your session with the app, which is exactly what you need if the app is in an inconsistent state.

Screenshot1
One way to force quit a running app is to push and hold the power button (on the top of your device) until you see the "slide to power off" screen. Now release the power button and instead hold down the home button (on the front of your device). Keep holding the home button until the app quits. Now you can relaunch the app and start using it as normal again.

Screenshot2
A second way to force quit an app is to use the multitasking bar. First you need to quit the app in the normal way by pressing the home button. To access the multitasking bar, press the home button twice in quick succession. The last app you were using should be at the far left of the multitasking bar. Now touch and hold on any of the icons until they start to wobble and a red circle with a minus sign appears at the top left corner of each icon. Tap the minus sign on the app you want to force quit. The icon should disappear. Now tap the home button again, and relaunch the app in the normal way.

Screenshot3
You shouldn't have to do this kind of thing very often, and I hope you never have to do it with one of my apps. But it's a handy trick to know if ever you find yourself stuck with an app that's doing something you don't want. By force quitting, you can take control of the situation and return the app back to a familiar state.



Who Wants a Stylus?

"Who wants a stylus?" That's what Steve Jobs said back in 2007 when he revealed the first iPhone to the world. He went on to say that the best pointing devices are the ones you're born with - your fingers, and I totally agree. You shouldn't need a stylus to operate a hand held device.

But I do want a stylus. When I use Road Pad to draw on an image of a junction, I use a stylus to help increase the accuracy of my lines. Fingers are fine for pushing buttons, scrolling, panning and zooming, but drawing is very hard to do accurately without a good stylus to help you.

I also use a stylus when using Mock Test. The boxes on the mock test form are just a little small for fingers and I find it much easier to hit the right ones with a stylus. Of course, I could have made the test sheet display larger on the screen but I wanted it to be the same width as the screen in landscape mode in order to minimise the amount of scrolling you need to do.

I'm writing this post because a good stylus is hard to find, and I want to point you towards a couple of my favourites.

The Acase Capacitive Stylus is a simple but good stylus which works well and doesn’t cost too much. Last time I checked, it was only £7.99 on Amazon. A bargain!

If you want something with a little more functionality, and are prepared to pay a little more, I’d recommend the BoxWave Capacitive iPad Styra. This has a stylus at one end and an ordinary pen at the other end. Again, it’s a good stylus and I find having the two items in one to be very useful.

Both these styluses work well with the iPad and iPhone. They also help to reduce the amount of fingerprints left behind on your screen.

TIP: When using a stylus with an iOS device, avoid using it to push the home button as this will shorten the life of the stylus.

Screenshots in iOS

Capturing an image of your iPhone or iPad screen is easy. Simply press the two buttons at the same time - that's the Sleep/Wake button on the top and the Home button on the front. Pressing these buttons together will capture an image of exactly what's on the screen of your device. The image is saved in your Photos app where you can access it anytime, email it, send it by SMS etc.

A screenshot can be made while using any app at any time, so if you want to send a pupil an image from Road Pad or Manoeuvres, it's very easy. You can also save and reuse your favourite independent driving routes.

Have fun!