Are Smartphones Changing the Way We Learn?

There’s a long-held argument that smartphones have given us the access to all knowledge, but we use it instead to look at pictures of cats and argue with each other on the internet. This isn’t always true – while we may do these things, we also use our phones constantly for looking something up, whether it’s a leading actor in a film we’re watching or if we’re checking what exactly Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle actually means.

smartphoneBut that’s why it’s become such an incredible learning tool – the ability to look anything up immediately means that there’s no longer a barrier to us absorbing new knowledge or learning new skills. Even an iPad can be a window into the works of Da Vinci, should we so wish. Twenty to thirty years ago, it wasn’t a case of simply taking the phone you got from O2 out of your pocket to learn a little more about what exactly caused the First World War – you’d have to go to a library, or even enrol on an academic course. Now, almost all the academia you’ll ever need is accessible via the same machine you’re using to order pizza and call your bank.

It’s not as though the learning is accidental either, it’s simply more accessible than it was before. Ten years ago, the idea of sitting down to watch Breaking Bad would’ve been a pain in the backside – go and get the DVDs, a DVD player, a TV, and sit down and watch them in standard definition. Now I can stream the same show in high definition on my mobile device.

There are also a multitude of educational apps available for people to use to expand their mental horizons. This goes for children as well, of course – there’s a considerable pile of interactive books and games that allow for their imaginations and logical reasoning skills to come out and play while using a device that’s far more intuitive to a child than a mouse and keyboard.

But smartphones are allowing us not only to look things up quickly, but to keep ourselves connected to data banks full of new possibilities. Apple runs a part of its online digital marketplace called iTunes U. Yep, iTunes University. It comes complete with several degrees’ worth of lectures in video and audio form from some of the best universities in the world, and they’re all accessible via your smartphone. This isn’t your average afternoon on Wikipedia – we’re talking actual lectures that offer a university-level education in a particular topic.

Mobile devices are also changing how we engage with the practical parts of our education. We can take notes, Skype our lecturer, use Vine for film class, and even ensure that our work is accessible from our pockets by uploading our current written musings to a Dropbox account.

Before, it was a little risky to take your phone out when you were supposed to be soaking up information – now, it’s no different to sitting down with a computer. Your smartphone has become your PC, your textbook, your notepad and your dictaphone – it’s not difficult to see why you’d be learning with it.

Runkeeper – iPhone App for the Fitness Community

Fitness training is becoming more and more an integral part of our daily life. Gym memberships are increasing and more and more people, in particular young men, get personal trainers to help them built up their fitness on an endeavour to look healthier and increase their overall energy levels.

However, not all the time can we afford to get personalised and monitored training sessions as they may be time consuming and costly. Fitness training does not have to be confined to the gym and in particular during the summer we can enjoy outdoor sports.

There is a fantastic application on the iPhone, which can help you greatly to monitor your fitness and progress.

RunKeeper is a fantastic invention which enables you to track your runs using highly accurate GPS tracking. You can program the app to give you instructions, such as warm-ups, speed announcements, interval training and so forth. RunKeeper is also very easy to use and allows you to integrate a play list of your favourite running songs into your fitness program. You can program your runs by time or distance.

To make life really easy, all your runs are saved on the Runkeeper website where you can access the average speed, total time and distance of your run and even the change in elevation. The program automatically saves the runs by date and plots your performance over time. This gives you a very easy way to monitor your fitness and also build up a training plan.

Furthermore, you can invite your friends into your “street team” and train together, even over distance. This is a great way to motivate each other and put your training and training plan into perspective. For those who love social networking, one can also click the “like button” for facebook and automatically post your runs on your facebook wall for all your friends to see the progress of your fitness. This application has helped me greatly to monitor my fitness.

You will also need to get a iPhone Armband Case Holder to attach the iphone to your arm whilst you are running.

Images reproduced from

Sunscreen Expert Launches Free iPhone App

Leading suncare expert, La Roche-Posay, has developed a free mobile iPhone app, My UV Alert, designed to promote sun safe behaviour and encourage the British public to act responsibly in the sun by advising users on the latest UV levels and weather forecast.

My UV Alert uses Met Office weather forecast data to give you the most accurate forecast available.

Available through the ‘iTunes App Store’ and compatible with the Apple iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch,  My UV Alert highlights the potential damaging effects of UVA and UVB rays on the skin and provides users with personalised suncare advice.

The new pioneering app aims to help in the battle against Melanoma and raise awareness of the damaging effects of UVA and UVB rays to skin.

Here are some of the features available on My UV Alert:-

UV profile – answer a short set of questions to determine your skin type and discover your personal UV risk level.

Push alerts – receive location specific notifications on the UV level in your area, tailored to your skin type.  The alerts will advise when UV levels are high and remind you to apply and re-apply sun protection.

Sun protection tips and advice – practical tips and advice to keep skin protected from UV rays, and how to stay safe when spending time outdoors whilst in the UK.

Weather forecast – find out the latest weather forecast in your area.

UV level warning – find out the latest UV level warning in your area.

Share option – access links that allow you to pass the app and advice on to friends and family.

Store locator – to help find the five nearest stockists of leading suncare range, La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL

My UV Alert showcases further information about the La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL range, which offers the highest sun protection from both UVB and UVA rays. The range comes in a variety of formulas for different skin types and is suitable for even the most sensitive of skins. La Roche-Posay is one of the most recommended sunscreens by British dermatologists.

Jane Toner, Marketing Manager for La Roche-Posay states:
“Two thirds of the nation (62%) still does not apply the recommended amount of sun protection. We hope that the My UV Alert iPhone app will help to educate people that UVA and UVB rays can cause both ageing and skin cancer”.

My UV Alert will also highlight the importance of wearing a good quality, broad-spectrum sunscreen all year round, as even when it isn’t sunny or warm outside, UVA and UVB rays can still cause damage to the skin.

To download the My UV Alert iPhone app, search for “My UV Alert” on the iTunes App Store or click here.

Images courtesy of iTunes / La Roche-Posay

Favourite iPhone Apps

Our readers asked us if we could do a list of the most popular iPhone apps. Mobile phone technology has become an integral part of everyone’s live and smart phones have become more and more popular. With the increase in demand, the applications that one can download these days have increased exponentially and it gets harder and harder to choose which applications to install. City Connect recommends the following apps:

(1) Google Maps

The google maps application seems to be an all-time favourite. It is very self explanatory and intuitive. It is particularly great in big cities if you want to find your way around. Hint: the GPS works even abroad when you have switched off your roaming. You just cannot browse the map, but you can load it using a WiFi and then track your position without a internet connection.

(2) Around me

This application allows you to quickly find information about your surroundings, such as banks, bars, coffee shops, ATMs, hotels, pubs and many more. This is particularly useful if you live in a big city or travel a lot. It makes life much easier and navigation very easy in busy places.

(3) Viber

Viber allows you to phone other contacts who also have Viber installed for free via the internet. This is particularly useful if you want to talk with friends abroad as it incurs zero costs. This is a great way to save money!

(4) Angry Birds

For one the greatest iPhone game ever, for the other a waste of time. Angry birds is the ultimate game for the iPhone and very popular. It is very simple: a bunch of birds have to be catapulted to hit some evil pigs. It is dead simple to play and a great way to release aggression and anger. Try it out and decide if it is for you!

(5) AllRecipes’ Dinner Spinner

Have you ever come home after a hard day at work indecisive about what you can cook with the few ingredients that are in your fridge? Ever wondered how to quickly conjure a romantic dinner virtually out of nothing to surprise your loved one after work? This application is a great way to make the ingredients in your fridge into a great tasty dinner.

(6) Runkeeper

This application uses GPS to track your exercise. Whether you want to walk or run, you can monitor your performance very accurately. Each workout will be sent to your e-mail address and you can thus easily monitor your fitness over time. This is a must have for runners.

(7) Shazam

Have you ever wondered what the song was that played in the background in a restaurant or pub? Just open shazam and it will recognise any pop song and give you title and singer. This is a great app to give more peace to your mind.

(8) Dragon Dictation

This app is the beginning of a new area of mobile technology. Now you can dictate your text message and have it typed out for you on the screen. The app works in many different languages and makes texting so much easier. Make sure you speak relatively slowly and pronounce the words well.

(9) Top 100 hits

This app gives you a list of the 100 top hits in any major country, such as the UK, the States, Germany, France, Canada and many more. You can listen to parts of the songs but unfortunately you have to buy it on iTunes if you want to listen to the whole song. Another great thing about this application, is that you can find music which is similar in style to the songs you like and automatically make playlists.

(10) Trip it

This app is great to help you plan your travel itineraries. The great thing about it is that you can just use your reservation conformation e-mails and forward it to the applications. It will build up a list of recommendations straight away for you.