Finding apps, keeping up to date and feeling supported!

If you are anything like me you are constantly on the lookout for new and exciting apps – and if you are anything like me, find the rate at which they are released mind blowing! How do you keep up? How do you know you are making the right decision?

I do find it useful to refer to app lists such as the apps for AAC list (developed by Jane Farrall); and our very own apps for Literacy Support list and apps for Special Education list. However, there are also some other tips and tricks I have picked up along the way when searching for apps, detailed reviews and further support.


  1. Use the various search features in iTunes to search for new apps: iTunes have a number of ways to search for apps (and anything else for that matter!). You can search by categories in iTunes, probably the most relevant categories I search are Education and Medical, but Entertainment, Books and Productivity are also worth a look. You can then sort these categories further by release date or popularity which helps refine your search. Alternatively, use the “Spotlight Search” feature in the top right hand corner of iTunes to do an overall search for a key word related to your topic area e.g. behaviour, schedule or social – remember, you may need to enter these terms with US spelling depending on where the app was developed.
  2. Look at the Screenshots: The screenshots included in the iTunes descriptions are a window into what the app looks like. While still being limited, it can help you decide whether the simplicity of the interface, the graphics used and the features displayed may suit the cognitive and physical needs of the people you are working with.
  3. Look for FREE or LITE versions: Some app developers release FREE or LITE versions of apps. These versions have limited features compared to the full versions but I find it is particularly useful when the app in question is expensive. It gives you a chance to try the app and decide if it is right for the people you are supporting without having to spend any money.
  4. Look at what else customers bought: Why not see what “like minded” customers have also bought. They may have the same interests as you and may have found an app that you would not have thought to look at.
  5. Find the Developer’s website: The Developer’s website is usually provided as a link directly from the iTunes store and can give you more detailed information about why the app was developed, what the features are and who it is suitable for. If it is not linked directly from the iTunes store sometimes doing a Google search can help.
  6. Use video sharing sites: Use video sharing sites like Vimeo or YouTube to search for short video reviews of apps. You can find videos that demonstrate the features of the apps and also sometimes, find reviews of the apps by people who have used them in the classroom. It is a great way of feeling supported in making the right decision for your students.
  7. Using Social Media: You can also learn about apps, share your discoveries and ask questions using social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Doing a search for groups and lists will help you to find information relevant to your area of interest. It is a great way to find out when apps are on sale or free for a limited time too.
This entry was posted in Apps and Mobile Learning Sources for Quality App Reviews.
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About Katie Lyon

Katie is a speech pathologist and augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) consultant who has been working with young children and adults with complex communication needs for the past 13 years. She has had worked in various roles including Coordinator of the Non-electronic Communication Aid Scheme and Regional Communication Service in Victoria as part of the state-wide Communication Access Network. She has a keen interest in supporting families, teachers, direct support workers and therapists to access information about AAC and assistive technology through education and training. She currently works part-time with Spectronics and part-time with the Communication Resource Centre at Scope in Victoria.

2 Responses to Finding apps, keeping up to date and feeling supported!

  1. lynn haugh says:

    Hi I am a speechie who is interested in the information on ‘The use of technologies to enhance the communication process’
    Lynn Haugh

    • Charlene Cullen says:

      Hi Lynn,
      You’ll find loads of information on using technologies for enhancing communication on our Spectronics blog. I’d also recommend accessing our online subscription. The Spectronics Consultancy Team has put together many videos and we’ve recorded lots of our workshops too. Lots of the topics cover AAC and also using technology to supporting writing. You can try it out with a free 7 day trial and then subscribe to continue access. I also like reading the PrAACtical AAC blog for lots of information in this area too and the AAC Journal usually has great articles.
      Kind regards,

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