Keys-by-TEARN mobile platform
Diary of a passionate, tech Dad
from TEARN i.e. teach to learn


Showing posts with label versions. Show all posts
Showing posts with label versions. Show all posts

May 9, 2011

Swipe Pages Using a Mouse


Mobile devices and the new generation of tablets have replaced the mouse with the finger. A left swipe of a finger turns the page. Legacy users with laptops and PC's still depend on mice and touch pads to navigate through the web.

To help millions of users transition from pointers to touch interfaces, we have implemented the ability to swipe left and right, using a pointer, to turn pages.
  • Click and hold down on the active area of a Keys-by-TEARN app.
  • Swipe the mouse about an inch to the right or left.
  • Release the mouse.
Of course, this is really one continuous flow - and not 3 distinct steps. Tap and app below to try the new feature on your PC.

Apr 4, 2011

Animation Using Software for Explorer, Firefox, and Old Phones

We use the power of advanced graphics chips to deliver our animations on the iPhone, Android, Blackberry OS6, and Palm webOS phones. We've patiently waited years for legacy browsers to deliver their implementation of their promised upgrades to support hardware animation. With their latest releases, Explorer and Firefox still does not support these chip-level animations.

if Mohamed will not go to the mountain, the mountain must come to Mohamed.

To avoid becoming Mohamed, we've implemented software animation to support old browsers. This includes Explorer 6+, Window Phone 7, Firefox 3+, Blackberry OS5, Nokia Symbian, and other older browsers. Visit our tablet version using any desktop browser. Enjoy!

Mar 22, 2011

Apps with Custom Slideshows

You can customize the terms in your app. The latest version also allows custom slideshows that don't depend on the results from search.

Using RSS Feeds

The Keys Mobile platform uses keywords to search Google, Bing, and Yahoo for images, videos, and links. Keys can also access list of photos stored at Flickr, Picasa, Youtube, or other structured websites via their RSS feeds.

In the top-right example, we've changed the Tablets War app to include an opening slideshow (ie about Keys) that self explains the Keys platform.

Each slide has a custom link that redirects the user to any web page to learn more about a topic.

Advanced Customization with RSS Feeds

Flickr sets and groups; Youtube collections; and Picasa albums have RSS feeds represented by this icon: . On Windows computers, right click this icon to copy the URL for this RSS feed to your clipboard. Paste into the app input box using the following syntax:

this-term@http://uri; next-term

This instructs Keys to access the feed for this-term in your customized app.

Using the New Feature

This feature allows multiple uses:

  • We can improve lessons and information delivery about Keys or an app directly inside the app. eg A slideshow can introduce the contents of an app.
  • A magazine provider can include information from their latest issue as a slideshow.
  • Advertisers can include their own slideshows as a term of an app.
  • User groups can participate and improve the relevancy of information inside an app.

  • Notice of Rights

    Keys retains all rights - including copyright, trademark, and patent-pending related to this new design.

    As we expand our partnerships with information providers, look for more improvements to the app content. Enjoy!

    Mar 11, 2011

    Customize and Share Keys

    We've added features to customize and share Keys mobile apps. Here are the details.

    Customize Keys
  • Tap Share Keys at to reveal the input box.
  • Tap the box to enter any keyword term. e.g. type in your own name.
  • Tap the add button.

  • The term is added to the table of contents; and your app shows the search results. This feature is available for use in Learn, Watch, Match, and Slots; but not Guess.

    Add and Share Terms

    You can select any term from an app, and share that term with friends at Facebook, Twitter, or via email - including custom terms.

  • Select a term.
  • Tap the Facebook, Twitter, or Email button.
  • Complete the post at those websites.

  • As an example, add yourself to a celebrity list of sports, music, or movie stars and share with friends;-)

    Advanced Customization

    Here are the features of the advanced customization.

  • Any keyword becomes a new term.
  • Keywords separated by commas or semicolons become a term list. e.g. red; blue; green The list can be very long.
  • Don't use semicolons, colons, and at-signs as part of your keywords and clues.
  • Edit the search list to replace your custom changes.
  • Replace with a blank list to delete your edits.
  • A keyword can have a custom clue. Use the colon (ie :) to separate the term and clue. e.g. John Doe:He is a ham or Mary:Sweet hear.;John:What a joker!
  • Each keyword can have a custom search term that is different from the keyword. Use the at-sign (ie @) to separate the term and search phrase. e.g. Me@John Doe or Me@John Doe:What a joker!

  • Technical Details

    Customize-and-share uses the new bookmarking feature. It's supported on iPhone, iPad, iTouch, Android, Palm Pre, Blackberry OS6, and most modern browsers.


    Mar 3, 2011

    Automatic Bookmarks for Keys Mobile Apps

    Automatic bookmarking of each app has been released to iPhone, Android, Palm, Blackberry, Chrome, Safari, and other platforms. It's a significant change for the user experience and a new feature that allows rapid release of more enhancements.

    Fat Library of E-books

    Each Keys mobile app is a collection of 30 to 200 terms, hundreds of images and videos, and activities like Learn, Watch, Spin, Match, and Guess that aid learning and memorization. When compared to e-books, each app can have thousands of pages - ie thicker than the textbook to the right.

    As our library has expanded to over 600 apps, we needed a better way to track the status in each app.

    The automatic bookmark feature has no user interface - it just works. When you select a term, that bookmarked term travels from activity to activity. When you restart an app, the last term shows immediately. In short, it's a bookmark.

    The Technical Details

    We use local storage, a feature that is supported by the iPhone, iPad, and iTouch (v2 or better); Android (v2+); HP Palm (all versions); Blackberry (version 5+); Safari (v4+); Chrome (v4+); Opera (v10+); Firefox (v3.5+); and Explorer (v8+). Other browsers from Japan and Nokia may support the same feature. IE6, IE7, older Firefox browsers won't have the automatic bookmarking.

    Using local storage, we'll be able to release many more features that enhance the learning experience.

    PS: A belated thank you to the 1,500,000 users who have downloaded Keys. And a special thank to the Amazon tech who suggested this approach to improving the user experience.

    Jan 15, 2011

    Version 5 of Keys - Adding Youtube Videos

    We've added video content to every term of every app. Select the Watch button to select videos.

    Brief History of Keys: Millions of Points of Light

    Keys is a new publishing platform that reveals the depth and breadth of the global web - and enables information discovery, entertainment, and true learning.

    The web has become millions of daily voices - updated via websites, blogs, and social networks. Search allows missle-like access to the most common content; but the breadth and depth of the global web has still been poorly served. Great content and voices are frequently buried among the billions of pages that is the global web.

    The Keys platform has compiled over 600 subjects into apps - where the breadth and depth of each subject is made easily accessible to users. Our combined apps cover a vocabulary of over 30,000 terms - when the average adult learns some 20,000 over a lifetime.

    Each app explores the breadth of a subject and digs to the depth of the web. Activities aid the memorization of terms - that leads to true learning - versus the brief browsing that is easily forgotten. Over one million apps have been downloaded. Thank you.

    Version 5 With Video

    As many mobile networks have upgraded to 3G and 4G performance, we have extended Keys beyond photo collections to video streams. Our search reveals all publicly available videos. Of course, most of the videos are hosted by Youtube courtesy of Google.

    The net effect is that video doubles the content available for every subject and every term. From recipe choices, to biology lessons, to word definitions, to travel destinations, to sports trivia - you have more content available with a tap.

  • Tap the Watch button to access the video collection.
  • Select a video by tapping one image.
  • Flick the page or use the flow selector to select new terms and more video choices.

  • Has Keys become the multimedia portal for learning by subject?

    It's Green

    Please share the battle song - every download saves a shrub, a can of oil, possibly a dolphin, and one mind.

    PS: Total downloads have passed 1,100,000. Thank you.

    Dec 27, 2010

    SmartLoad Technology for Cloud Images

    SmartLoadTM is our trademarked and patent-pending technology for loading high-resolution images over mobile networks. (ed: NYT article about 1 hour download times for apps.)

    The problem has been discussed in a prior article. The challenge is to present the best image to mobile users despite slow networks and devices.

    Open versus Closed Social Networks

    Facebook is a closed network for photo sharing. Google and Flickr maintain smaller snippets of photos on their servers, thus accelerating delivery of images to their users.

    The Keys platform is an open social network that retrieves the best, most relevant, original images from servers located throughout the world. Unfortunately, with slow servers and slow mobile networks - this has been a very hard problem to solve.

    This becomes an aggravated challenge when we present images from remote countries of the world. Fetching one image in ten seconds from a old server in Mongolia is one example of the problem. Avoiding deleted photos at Photobucket is another.

    Long time users may have noticed that our SmartLoad technology shows better and better images without loss of performance. We have continued our efforts to build better filters, caching, and optimization - so that the images seem to improve as you watch the show. The first time you see an image, you may be looking at the smaller snippet from Google. In the background, we're still loading the original, hi-res image -- so that your second look of the image shows the original image -- despite slow servers and networks.

    Tap on any image to visit the original source.

    Happy Holidays! Subscribe to this blog, below.


    Dec 2, 2010

    Improved Balance Between High-Res Images and Performance

    Bringing high-resolution images over slow performing networks to mobile users has been an agonizing challenge. We finally have the right balance.

    The Problem

    Our apps pulls relevant images from millions of servers located throughout the world. Slow servers, slow wireless networks, and slow devices make this an interesting challenge.
    • Too many of the web servers are under-powered - unable to respond quickly to our requests. Many are located on slow hosting sites.
    • 3G as a transport can be highly constricting.
    • Slow devices are unable to display our animation in a timely fashion.
    Thus, we've been forced to rely on low-resolution images stored on Google and Microsoft's fast server networks.

    The Solution

    Our engineers have managed to create a balance between high resolution images and performance.
    • If the high-resolution image is stored on an adequate server and network, then we show the best image.
    • If the image cannot be retrieved in a timely fashion, then we show Google or Microsoft's shrunken version of the image.
    • As more wireless networks evolve to 4G performance, our results will improve automatically.
    Hope you enjoy the improvements. Select one of the apps below and try the new slide shows.


    Nov 18, 2010

    Minor Fix for Blackberry Torch and Windows Mobile 7 Users

    Although the new browsers from Blackberry and Microsoft each claim full support for HTML5, these new browsers still have quirks that blacken the real experience of a true HTML5 platform such as our coffee-table apps. Multi-touch and animation services are lagging, and some simple bugs have not been corrected by these companies.

    As interim support for these users, we have added a new row of buttons to support these incomplete browsers. Blackberry and Window users can use these buttons and the Blackberry mouse, rather than the flow selectors and touch scrolling. Hopefully, Microsoft and RIM will fix their respective problems and we can eliminate these work arounds.

    Oct 10, 2010

    Tablet apps for Chromium, Apple iPad, Dell Streak

    Here is our beta version of apps for tablet devices. Click here to visit.

    Although compatible with desktop browsers like Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari, the best tablet experience would need iPhone OS4, Android, or Blackberry OS6. For best simulated experience from a desktop PC, please use Safari from Apple.

    Jul 6, 2010

    Keys Learning Activities

    All apps have been updated to include the new, slide-show activity to aid learning.

    More About Learning

    We've improved our focus on learning.
    • Flow selectors group relevant terms into chapters and sections. Unlike an alphabetical glossary that makes the list of terms long and cumbersome, grouping puts terms into topic context which aids learning.
    • Association of terms with images from search results from Google, Bing, and Yahoo accelerate understanding and comprehension with what academics call unconscious competence development. This is the painless way to learn.
    • When terms have multiple meanings outside of the context of the target subject, the search services provide more rich images, as well. The alert user notes the variations and develops conscious competence of the term when used in a context different from the target subject.
    • Repetition - more time-spent with relevant terms converts to both conscious and unconscious competence
    • Kinesthetic learning from touch, typed spelling, active selection of terms - and even flipping from page to page has a similar impact on learning as the repetitive homework that requires writing of words or notes about a subject
    Most importantly, the mobile devices themselves have helped learning. We've observed groups crowd around one device, changing the public image to learning is cool. This is wonderful.

    Keys Learning Activities

    Each Keys app targets a subject and an age-group - ie kids, teens, adults. Activities within the app support learning.
    • Learn is a slide show activity to review the terms of a subject. (More below.)
    • Spin uses a slot-machine model to show terms. Although conservative educators may object to the gambling image, this activity has been the most used, probably because of the simplicity of the model. Frequent use means learning - which is a good outcome.
    • Match is the classic concentration game. The game itself teaches focus. Paying attention earns the reward of finding the matching images - and the unconscious memorization of the target term.
    • Guess is our original, innovative Pictionary with search robots game/activity. Robots tirelessly supply images based on a term. What term was used to generate the image results?
    We'll continue expanding the set of activities to keep learning fresh for all users.

    Learning Slide Show

    The latest activity simulates flash cards with our unique presentation twist.
    • Each card presents a term and its definition.
    • Images are pulled from search engines to support the presentation.
    • Unlike the other activities, we've pulled a high resolution image from Microsoft Bing for this activity. This has the positive effect of better images - but the negative result of slower image access - particularly when used with slow 3G networks and/or slow image servers. If this problem is wide-spread, we may change to low resolution images for this activity.
    • Every image is a live link to the source. Users can learn more about a term by tapping the image.
    In summary, embedded search results uniquely support our implementation of the classic flash card model. We call this the expandable flash card (excard) model. Isn't this the right model for web learning?

    App Upgrades

    Each mobile platform has different processes for upgrades. For most, the upgrade is automatic and there is no additional fee. Click here to see an example.

    Happy learning!

    PS: Over 100,000 visitors play monthly at keys.tearn.com. Keep up the good work ;-)

    Jun 23, 2010

    Improved Flow Selector Slide Action

    When using the flow selectors, touch the arrow and slide to save the 1/10th second delay to recognize a tap. Try slide on iPhone and Android devices.

    Sweating the details;-)

    May 7, 2010

    Keys - Version 4 - the Learning Experience


    Gaming brings addiction to learning. That is a good goal.

    Learning Challenge

    Elementary school content is simple to present. Flash cards entertain kids.

    As we add high school, college, adult-level content, the challenge increases to present the quantity and complexity of information; and context of knowledge.

    Our four-book series of biology related terms span:
    • elementary school learning of animals (500 terms)
    • life science studies in middle school (500+ terms)
    • understanding of anatomy and health in high school (1,000+ terms)
    • bio ap with comparative focus for college students (3,000+ terms)
    The series includes over 4,000 unique terms - while the average adult learns 20,000 words over a lifetime. Over 50 chapters, 200,000 images, and unlimited levels support the bio-series. Both the quantity and complexity of terms change how information needs to be presented.

    Look for more learning-series from tEarn as we expand other subjects using the same, new model. Also, give us time to update the content for existing games.

    Keys Version 4 Features
    • Our games deploy simple models. Match is the classic concentration game. Slots spins. And Keys is our Pictionary with a search robot. Our goal is for learners to spend time with content, not learn complex games.
    • For the bio-series, we bring over 200,000 relevant photos and links via search bots to aid learning.
    • The Flow-Selector activates the list of target words, phrases, and facts. Touch or swipe to activate. Also, touch or swipe to hide the list.
    • For long lists, touch to expand or hide sections of the cheat sheet.
    • Touch to select terms.
    • For the match and slots games, the flow-selector selects new terms to learn.
    • For the keys game, the flow-selector is an alternative to typing for guessing an answer - necessary with complex terms.
    • These changes simplify the model for the innovative keys game, hiding the 'cheats sheet' off-screen.
    • Use the chapter selector to select different chapters.
    Version 4 Improves Learning

    The grouping of related terms on the cheat sheet shows the context of terms within systems. This expands learning methods over an alphabetical list - which is suitable and still used in Version 4 for simple lists.

    For example, using the Mammals game, elementary students learn that:
    • Coyote, dingo, dog, fox, jackal, and wolf are related as canines with sharp teeth.
    • Kangaroo, koala, wallaby, and the common opossum are related as marsupials that bear their young in pouches.
    • Ferret, hedgehog, and shrew are not rodents even though they look like the same class as the beaver, chinchilla, chipmunk, gerbil, groundhhog, and mouse.
    For advanced subjects, glossaries often define new terms using terms that we don't know. We call this the recursive problem.
    How do learners comprehend the concepts when unknown terms define more unknown terms?
    Terms in context helps learners to comprehend complex knowledge through grouping.

    Identifying patterns and putting knowledge into buckets are a few of the advanced concepts for learning and innovation - identified through my AI days at MIT.

    ROI for Learning

    A recent report suggests that the average student learns only 5 to 10 words over a six-week period at public schools. This is a huge problem.

    Our goal is to achieve that reading comprehension - every day.

    Is this doable?

    Let us know.

    Version 4 Support

    There is no FAQ for Keys, no bugs, no complexity - just learning fun!. Over 100,000 users have downloaded one of our apps. But, Apple, Motorola, and Palm insists on having a support page ;-) So this page will have to suffice.

    Here's a link to access one v4 game.

    Do note that if viewed over the web, please use Safari or Chrome to best simulate the mobile user experience. Firefox and Explorer use delivers a very different experience - and is not supported.

  • Animals Collection: at Android Marketplace | iPhone App Store | Palm Catalog


  • Life Sciences Collection: at Android Marketplace | iPhone App Store | Palm Catalog


  • Biology Collection: at Android Marketplace | iPhone App Store | Palm Catalog


  • Bio AP Collection: at Android Marketplace | iPhone App Store | Palm Catalog


  • For email support or to just to send a compliment, click here or the Contact link in the footer.
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