Posts tagged ‘smartphone’

Looking at replacement smartphones…

I’ve just bought myself a new smartphone. Well, not so new as I got it secondhand on ebay (although it’s in perfect condition)… an HTC Sensation. On our projects we’re currently using HTC Hero phones, these have been working really well for us, but we need to start looking at some alternative options. Specifically looking at models which are a year or so old, so the prices aren’t too high (my top limit was £150), but are still going to work well for the next few years.

It was basically a choice between a Samsung Galaxy S2 or an HTC Sensation and the HTC won out on price.

Although I’ve only had it a few days, so far I’ve been really impressed, it feels like a big step up from the Hero. It had already been unlocked and updated to Android 4, but I’ve not rooted it yet. For us, looking to provide video content on the phones and other content and activities, the larger screen size will make a significant difference. Also the faster processor avoids the stuttering I was getting when trying to run some videos on the Hero.

I’m sure that as the prices come down over the months, and we still think they’ll work well for us, they’ll make a great option as alternatives to the HTC Heroes. To give an idea about how quickly the prices are coming down, the first HTC Hero we bought (secondhand) around Easter 2011 was about £150, then a few months ago (May 2012) I got one for £40.

A point to note for those interested, the Android 4 (or at least the version I have) will display Ge’ez text by default, I didn’t need to install a new system font. Plus the font that it has looks much smoother/cleaner than the one we needed to install on the Heroes.

HEAT content on smartphone and tablet

Here’s an updated video showing the OU HEAT content running on an Android smartphone and tablet showing embedded video content (videos stored locally on the device) and interactive self assessment exercises:

The video we’ve embedded is from the Global Health Media Project

New mQuiz demo video

I’ve just uploaded a new video to demonstrate the changes I’ve been making recently to mQuiz:

In addition to using either your smartphone or standard web browser, I’ve also updated the mQuiz Android client, which can now be found at:

Any feedback welcome.

mQuiz: Importing from Moodle quizzes & GIFT format

I’ve just put up a new version of the mQuiz website and mQuiz Android app.

The key update is that you can now import quizzes in the GIFT format (which Moodle also uses). So if you already have a Moodle quiz then you can export it in GIFT format and upload to run in mQuiz – I’ve uploaded the 4 quizzes from our Certificate in Online Education course to demonstrate. Alternatively you can write your own quiz in GIFT format directly.

This now allows to create quizzes with more interesting question types than only single-option multiple choice, such as multi-option multiple choice, numerical, essay, short answer and true/false.

Any feedback on this is much appreciated!
Update (5th Dec 2011)… I’ve just added the facility to display feedback…

mQuiz: lots of updates….

Over the last few days I’ve made quite a lot of updates to the mQuiz server and Android application

mQuiz server updates

  • Graphs and better info about quiz responses – note that if you created the quiz then any responses you submit will not count towards average scores etc.
  • A download queue, so you can share quizzes with a link…. e.g. clicking on this link will add the ‘European Capitals’ quiz to your download queue, and will be downloaded next time you start the client phone app. You can use this even if you haven’t yet installed the phone app. As soon as you install and log in to the client, the quiz will be scheduled for download.
  • Quizzes can now have download/submissions turned on/off. Allows a quiz to be under development, and not downloadable to any clients, also by turning submissions off you can stop people sending in more results.
  • The leaderboard on the homepage now works. You’ll only appear once you have submitted results from at least 3 different quizzes (sorry, quizzes you created don’t count!).
  • Homepage much improved (I think anyway!).

mQuiz Android updates

  • You now need to register/login when you first open the client app. You’ll need valid login details to download quizzes, submit responses etc.
  • The download scheduler is implemented – so the client will automatically download any quizzes you’ve selected on the server. The scheduler only runs when you have the mQuiz client open and you can set how often it will check for quizzes in the preferences (from the mQuiz main page click on the menu button and select ‘preferences’).
  • Manage quizzes: you can now remove installed quizzes as well as just download them. Note that this will remove all your scores too (though results already send to the server will be kept).
  • The download quiz page now won’t try to download quizzes that are already installed
  • After you complete a quiz you now have the option to share your results via twitter, email, text message, facebook etc.

There’s still quite a lot I’d like to do to tidy up the client code, and all the other features I’d like to add too! Any feedback on the above, or the app generally, much appreciated 🙂

mQuiz: running quizzes on your mobile

Once again, I’ve been getting a bit slack with posting to my blog, seem to have got a bit distracted with writing project proposals and other work. So here’s a quick update on something I’ve been developing over the last couple of weeks… a smartphone application to easily create, deliver and take short quizzes and assessment activities. Firstly, a quick demo:

There are many quiz apps on Android market, but none that I found will allow you to easily create your own quiz questions (not without programming a new Android app). True, there are ways to do this, for example, to create your quiz in Moodle, then access via one of the mobile Moodle apps. But I wanted something that you could run on your phone offline and didn’t have the overhead of setting up a Moodle installation.

I now have a prototype website (at – very surprised this domain name was easily and cheaply available!), where you can create your own (multiple-choice) quizzes. Anyone with an Android smartphone can install the client application and download any of the quizzes created and submit/share their results. To download the client app see: or search for ‘mquiz’ in the market.

I’m planning to make some nice graphs/charts etc on the site so you can track responses to quizzes better. For example to see how many people have been taking your quiz, the scores they are getting, even identify which questions most people get right/wrong.

It’s very much a work in progress, so things are likely to change rapidly – not all the pages on the website are written yet even. Some of the key functions I’d like to work on are:

  • Nicer analytics pages/graphs on the website
  • Client app for other mobile OSs – thinking about porting to PhoneGap to make it easier to develop for multiple mobile platforms.
  • More than just multiple choice – it would be good to support something like the GIFT format to make it easy for people to import existing quizzes
  • Better sharing of quizzes – so you could email/sms someone a link to a quiz for them to opt to have it downloaded to their phone next time they open the client app
  • Visibility/submission permissions – currently all quizzes created are publicly available and anyone can submit responses (even anonymously), would like to have the option to restrict quizzes to particular users/groups
  • … probably much more to add to this list!

The code for the phone client app and the server app is available on GitHub, see: for details.

Any feedback/suggestions much appreciated (as would any help with the development!)

Health Extension Worker technical training

Last week I spent several days visiting the training Araya and Florida are running to show the groups of Health Extension Workers how they can use smartphones for data collection.

We first visited a group in Adi Gudem (about 30km south of Mekelle), they’ve had the phones for several weeks now, so are already familiar with them. The training revolved around them using an updated client application (we’ve also changed the server software to use OpenDataKit, but this ought to be invisible to the end users) and the new ante-natal care protocols that we’ve developed over the last few weeks. For the second group in Wukro (about 40km north of Mekelle), this was their first training session, so they’d not used the phones at all before.

All seemed to go well, we had a couple of technical issues that I need to look at this week – but this is to be expected given that we’re still in the technical feasibility stage, we won’t be starting the intervention study until early next year. One of the issues we’re still finding is the level of English of the HEWs – it seems likely that we’ll need to provide the protocol questions in both English and Tigrinyan.

Some photos from the training sessions (plus a few other pics):

Installing Ge’ez Virtual Keyboard on Android Devices

Instructions for installing a Ge’ez Virtual Keyboard on Android:

  1. Root your device – exactly how this is done will depend on your device and you’ll need to look up on Google how to do this – note that rooting is not the same as unlocking your phone, rooting means you get administrative privileges to update system files, such as the font files we’ll update below.
  2. Download the files DroidSans.ttf and RootExplorer-v2.15.apk and copy these onto the phone’s SD card (or equivalent)
  3. Install and run the RootExplorer application and go to the sdcard folder
  4. In rootexplorer, find the DroidSans.ttf file and copy it
  5. Go to the /system/fonts folder and push the button marked “mount R/W”, the button will the change to be marked “mount R/O”
  6. Paste the DroidSans.ttf file into this folder – replacing the existing DroidSans.ttf file. Leave all the other font files as they are. It’s probably a good idea to make a backup of the original DroidSans.ttf file first, before you overwrite it. Just rename the original file to (something like) DroidSans.ttf.bak.
  7. Now restart the phone and the new font will be installed
  8. Now to install the keyboard, download the keyboard apk file
  9. Copy this to your phones SD card and install the application
  10. You should now be able to switch between the standard and Ge’ez keyboards. You may need to enable the keyboard by going to: Settings -> Language & Keyboard then select check the box to enable the new keyboard
  11. To find out how to switch between keyboards, watch our video:

We have tested this installation procedure on a few different phone models, though obviously we can’t cover every possible phone type and can’t guarantee it will work for every device. If you have any problems/issues then please post a comment. We’d also be very happy to hear that it did work for you!

Instructions for installing and using Ge’ez Virtual Keyboard

Update (12 Oct 2011); This instructions have now been deprecated, to install the keyboard on your Android phone please visit:

Here is a short video of how to switch between virtual keyboards and how to use the keyboard:

Please let me know if you have any feedback/questions.

Ge’ez Virtual Keyboard for Android

Update (12 Oct 2011): For instructions on how to install the keyboard on your phone please visit:

Virtual Keyboard demo

Over the past few weeks, a group of graduate students at Alcalá University have been creating a virtual keyboard for Android to allow the input of Ge’ez script. This will allow anyone using Android smartphones or tablets to input Amharic and Tigrinya in their native script. We’ll be trialling use of this keyboard in our mHealth projects.

As the script contains over 200 characters they can’t all be displayed on the keyboard, so tapping the root consonant character will allow users to cycle through the 7 consonant+vowel combinations to enter a particular character, much like using a numeric keypad to enter Latin script characters. We’re also working on a version where the possible combinations appear in a small pop-up window when the root consonant is pressed.

The installation isn’t yet as simple as we’d like because the Ge’ez font isn’t default on Android, so the devices need to be rooted and the system font installed before the keyboard will work correctly. We’re currently putting together some full instructions and video and I’ll post up a link when these are ready. If anyone wants to try it out now, please contact me, we can provide a ROM with the font and application pre-installed.

More photos of the keyboard in action.