The news that people can access iTunes U content on their iPhone and iPod Touches with the 3.0 software is such a great thing! I’ve wanted mobile access since the beginning of iTunes U
, so seeing this work on my own iPhone was really very cool. The scenario of students having real mobile access to protected course content while they walk across campus is now a reality. We still don’t have the full suite — mobile recording, posting, and acquisition but we are getting really close.
Now that I think about it, with the new voice recorder one may be able to rig up an easy to use mobile solution that would allow one to record in the Recorder application, email it to a blog to create a new entry, feed the RSS into an iTunes U section, and make it instantly available for download. Not sure that would work, but I’ll give it a try.
To get back on topic, I wonder how many students will really take advantage of this? I’m constantly trying to project my own scenarios onto the way student should use the tools we give them … that is something I should stop. I doubt using the iTunes app on the iPhone for accessing PSU iTunes U course content is really part of their dream scenarios. I could be wrong and I am anxious to understand this a bit better. Over the next several days we’ll be making it very easy for people to authenticate and get into their private courses … and once that happens we may see some new mobile access start to happen in the fall. I am hoping that with this new capability that Apple also gives me a way to track its use through the weekly statistics we get. Only time will tell, but this is a very cool move in the right direction!
Last week I read a post by CogDog where he talked about a voice recorder app for the iPhone that looked really promising called, Recorder. It reminded me of how much podcasting I used to do and how much I would like to be able to do it on the fly with my iPhone and the nifty little headset/microphone combo. I didn’t end up trying Recorder, but this morning I downloaded an application that does recording and syncing back to the Mac. It is iTalk by Griffin.
Here’s what is so cool about it (other than the free price) — it has a separate client that runs on the Mac that syncs your file back to your Mac via WIFI. For me that is killer as I don’t sync my iPhone with my work laptop … but in this case I simply make my recording (using the headset), launch the iTalk Sync client on my MacBook, connect to the iPhone with two taps, and drag the file to the desktop. For the sample below I then took it into GarageBand to put the cheesy music under the voice. All in all it took no time at all.
Listen to my Mobile Audio
Now, if the application would allow me to do some simple editing … say place a bumper at the front, perhaps a little music under the voice, and mix it all down before I move it to my Mac we’d have the perfect mobile podcasting kit. Even without those features this thing is a winner and the quality is actually quite good!
My colleague, Wendy Mahan, describes her attempt to use the iPhone to access podcasts via the browser … short story is it works. When I read the title of her post in my Google Reader, I was thinking something to the effect of, “of course the iPhone does podcasts …” But then when I actually clicked over and read her post I was interested to see that she was actually not talking about following th path of download to iTunes and sync to the iPhone over the cable. She was instead talking about going to the Podcasts at Penn State site live via Safari and listening over the air.
I tried it and bounced over to take a peek at ETS Talk and sure enough, the iPhone sees the entry and places a big “Q” (for QuickTime content) on the page with a play button on it. It then rotates the screen as if it wants to play a video and the podcast begins. I didn’t get any album art, but I now have a way to listen to new content directly on the device over the air. I have to test this with a site like IT Conversations. This opens up some new and interesting opportunities — stuff I should have, but didn’t, think of. My only fear is the slow speeds on the EDGE network, but under wifi, you could load up some good stuff in multiple browser windows and play them as you walk across campus, drive in the car, or commute on the train. While traveling, a quick stop at a McDonald’s to leach the free wifi could refill your iPhone for the remainder of a trip. All very cool to me. More testing is needed — I have no idea yet if enhanced podcasts produce a slide show, but I’ll take a peek later today.
Now, if I could only record a podcast live on the iPhone and upload it directly to iTunes U or Podcasts at Penn State we’d be in business. Something for version 2.0?