Road Pad 2.1

Road Pad for iPad has a brand new update hitting the App Store today. This is an exciting update because it sees the introduction of a feature I've been looking forward to for a long time. You can now add road users to the satellite images, resize them to fit, and use them to provide even better explanations and examples to your pupils.

Today's update also brings with it a number of other tweaks and enhancements, including:

• Thumbnail images for saved files
• The ability to save your drawings along with added road users on top of the satellite images
• Three finger swipe gesture to quickly switch between your saved files
• The ability to export your saved files via iTunes
• Some minor interface changes
• A spiffing new icon

If you haven't already got the app, you can use this button to snatch a copy from the App Store:

Road Pad - Neil Beaver

Road Pad for Android

Our first Android app is now available! Road Pad can now be downloaded on Android tablets and phones. Click here to read more about Road Pad. Use the button below to find it on the Google Play Store...

Android app on Google Play

Some recent updates

Traffic Lights has recently been updated to fix a bug that could cause the red car in the Crossroads/Filter animation to do something pretty daft. This update is available now.

I've recently sent updates to Apple for Records and Road Pad. These updates are still awaiting approval and release.

The changes to Records are as follows:
Option to set alternative prices (for student discount etc)
Option to include details of latest payment in email to pupil
Option to sort pupils alphabetically by surname

The Road Pad update fixes an bug that could cause an image to display incorrectly after changing the image's name.

Road Pad 1.4

Version 1.4 of Road Pad goes live today. This version allows the user to choose between Apple and Google maps. The default option is Apple Maps. If you prefer to use Google Maps, you can do this via a web interface which is enabled as follows:

1. After installing the update and launching the app, select the Satellite view
2. Tap the settings button (represented by the cog icon)
3. Enable the switch to Use Web Maps
4. Start using Google Maps

UseWebMaps

If you are still using iOS 5, Apple's maps will not be available and you will continue to use Google Maps regardless. In this case, I think performance is slightly improved when Use Web Maps is switched off. However, enabling web maps allows access to Google Street View, which can be a very handy feature.

It is with this update that I now feel there's no reason to continue avoiding iOS 6.

The update also includes the ability to change the default pen size for drawing and a few other minor enhancements and bug fixes.

There should soon be a similar update for Road Pad Mini which will provide the same Use Web Maps option via the iPhone's Settings app. Again, this will need to be enabled to make use of Google Maps and Street View.

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).

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.

Road Pad Apps Updated

An update to Road Pad for iPad has just been approved and should now be available for download. This update brings two new features: the ability to change colour when drawing and the ability to change the name of a saved image.

I've also updated Road Pad Mini to allow drawing in different colours. This update has been submitted to Apple and should be available soon.

Road Pad for iPad Updated

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An update to the original (iPad) version of Road Pad has just gone live on the App Store.

I've received a lot of suggestions for how to improve this app. To implement all of them would require a complete rewrite, something which I haven't been able to do this time. However, I've implemented the most essential (and most commonly requested) features: the ability to undo/redo while drawing, and the ability to open any image from the iPad's photo library.

The app is still limited to portrait mode for a variety of reasons, some to do with usage practicalities and some to do with technical issues. Suffice it to say, if you're opening an image from your photo library it'll be best if that image is portrait rather than landscape.

I've spruced up the interface a little and got rid of the unnecessary bottom toolbar, allowing more space for images and drawing. I've also improved error handling so you're less likely to lose or overwrite a file.

Road Pad has worked brilliantly for me as a teaching aid. It's never crashed or given me any problems of any sort. I hope you've had similarly good experiences with it, and I hope this version continues to work as seamlessly as the previous one.

If you like the app, please take a moment to write a glowing review on the App Store! Good reviews really help to inspire me to improve my apps and produce more.

I'm already thinking about what can be done in the next version of Road Pad. If you've already sent me your suggestions and I haven't been able to implement them this time, don't worry - I'll be trying to figure out how to implement them in the future.

Road Pad Mini

I've had a few enquiries from people asking if I could make Road Pad available for the iPhone as well as the iPad. At first I thought there would be no point in doing this as Road Pad really needs the large screen area that the iPad offers. However, I realised it wouldn't take long to put together a scaled down version with a simplified interface. A lot of driving instructors have an iPhone but not an iPad, and there's no reason why this shouldn't be useful in some situations.

I wouldn't expect anyone to pay £2.99 to have this on their phone, so I've created it as a separate app with a cheaper price, rather than make it a universal app. Get it now - only £0.69!

Road Pad for iPad is due an update and I've been thinking about what needs to be done. Writing Road Pad Mini has helped me come up with a few ideas regarding how to improve the interface. I've also figured out how to implement the undo/redo function, which is a much-needed feature. Look out for the Road Pad update coming to your iPad soon!

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!

Mock Test and Road Pad updates go live

Updates to Mock Test and Road Pad have both been approved by Apple an are now live on the App Store.

Mock Test version 1.1 implements the ability to save test sheets and retrieve them later for review. The next version of the app will include the ability to send test results via email.

defaultB

Road Pad version 1.1 addresses an issue which meant the default satellite view was always centred and zoomed on the British Isles. The update allows you to select your preferred view and then save it as the default. This means you can set a view of your local area as the default, so it will be quicker and easier for to find the exact view you want. You can, of course, use the ‘Show Location’ button at any time to identify and zoom in on your current position.

Road Pad Unleashed!

Road Pad is the latest invention here at Robosoul. The idea behind this iPad app is simple: you can use it to easily demonstrate the details of how a particular road or junction ought to be tackled.

If your iPad is the 3G variety, and connected to the network, you can bring up a satellite view of pretty much any location. Even if your iPad is Wi-Fi only, you can still load up and save a selection of images which are useful to you, and retrieve them any time while you’re out on the road.

The only limitation to what you can view from above is the quality of satellite images available. In many cities, the quality is excellent, and you can provide for your pupil a detailed overview of any situation. If you don’t currently have high-definition images available for your area, don’t worry because you probably will soon. See below for how to check the image quality of satellite views in your area.

Also included with Road Pad is the ability to overlay a map onto the satellite image, just like the ‘Hybrid’ view in the Maps app. This is to make it easier for you to find a particular location if you’re struggling with the satellite image on its own.

If you can’t get the exact image you need from the satellite view, or if you want to explain something very specific to your pupil, you can switch to the blank view within the app and easily draw whatever you like.

Road Pad is designed to be flexible and easy to use. There’s no limit to the amount of situations in which it can help you to get your message across!

Click here to take a closer look.

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How to check satellite image quality:

Open the Maps app on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch and tap the ‘page curl’ image in the bottom right corner. Select ‘Satellite’ from the view options. Tap the arrow icon to identify your current location, then zoom in as far as you can by either double-tapping the screen or pinching outwards with two fingers. The same gestures can be used to manipulate the satellite view inside the Road Pad app. You can also zoom out by tapping the screen with two fingers together or pinching two fingers towards each other. Pan around by dragging your finger across the screen.