Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Reflection App - Well sort of...

Yesterday, I discovered a cool new tool and just had to share it.  It's called Reflection and can be found on the Reflection App website.

What it works on:
Devices:  iPhone 4S, iPad 2, iPad 3,
Platforms:  PC (Windows XP or greater), Mac (OS X 10.6.8)
I was testing on a Windows XP using my iPhone 4S.

What does it do?  It's a projection "app".  It allows you to wirelessly project what is happening on your iPhone or iPad onto your computer.

Right now, if you want to show what's happening on your iPhone or iPad, you have a few choices.
  1. You can AirPlay it to an Apple TV.  Not sure how many classrooms have that.  Mine didn't.  
  2. You can also purchase the Apple dongle at a cost of about $35. I've used the dongle.  Honestly, I had trouble with it.  I would have to take my cover off because I couldn't get it to attach securely.  Even with the cover removed, the second I moved around it had a tendency to jiggle loose.  Then, if it had jiggled loose too often, it would stop projecting my iPad completely.  So frustrating.  Especially when you're doing a presentation about how great iPads can be if used properly.  Thirdly, I was tied down and limited to the length of my VGA cable.  Frustrating.
  3. I've heard people talking about other apps that will project as well but have not researched them.  I was really looking for something that would allow a class of 20-30 iPads to project inexpensively. 

So far, this is my favorite...Let me tell you about it.

I installed the software on my laptop.  It was fast and easy, about a 9Mb download.   Then I went to my iPhone 4S, (make sure your laptop/desktop and iPhone/iPad are on the same network) accessed AirPlay and started projecting.  That's it.  There's nothing to install on the iPhone or iPad.  That means anyone on the same network as my computer can instantly project through my computer to the projector.  Awesome!

Wait!  You scream.  Does that mean ANYONE can tap into my computer and start projecting?  Well technically yes unless you take the following action.  You can set a password.  This way, you can either 1) turn it off at the beginning of class or 2) give it to your students for that class and then change it afterwards.  Again, easy-peasy to do.

What can you use it for?  Let students show videos they've found, work they've done, anything they've created, brainstorming they've completed in groups.  It even projects sound!  So, if they're showing a video, the sound automatically transfers with it.  I did notice a slight lag when I ended the YouTube video.  It showed up on the computer screen for about 5 seconds after I closed the YouTube App.  It will not display the video on your device at the same time, however.  Oh, and apparently multiple devices can connect to the computer at once.  The website states that it will start to slow down as you increase the number of connections.  I didn't bring my iPad to work today so I will have to test it and see how it goes. This spot here will be updated as soon as I have tested multiple devices.

As far as I can tell, only two things didn't work on it.  1) Facebook wouldn't play embedded videos or at least not the one I had tried.  2) Skype didn't transfer.  There may be other apps that don't work but so far so good with the ones that I've tried.

One other small glitch:  Once when I had told it to connect, I had this blog open in edit mode.  When it displayed my iPhone it was itty bitty on the screen.  I just canceled the airplay and reconnected and it was fine.  So far that has only happened once.

Cost:  The free version only allows you a total of 10 minutes time and that's it to explore the app but within that time, you can pretty much guarantee that you'll love it.  Full Disclosure Here:  Once I ran out of my free time, I contacted the company, explained who I was and that I work with teachers across Central Alberta sharing resources, activities, apps and ideas that they may find useful within their math classroom and then I very politely requested a free copy of their app.  I want to be able to actually SHOW people how easy this app is to use.  The current cost is $14.99 per license or $49.99 for 5.  Contact them for more than 20 licenses for another discount.

Check out the Reflection App website to watch the video and find the download file.  Let me know if there's anything serious that I missed when playing with the app - either good or bad.

Edited to add:  I was asked where I'd heard about the Reflection "app" and I couldn't remember at first but now I suspect it was because of this post.  Not sure why I would have kept reading about it since she states that only works on Macs but it definitely works on PC's now.  So, thank-you, Kathy, for pointing me in this direction!

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