Our Blog

September 23, 2014 - Celebration Party

Thanks to everyone who came and celebrated Special iApps turning 3 at the Alan Shearer Centre on Saturday. We had great fun playing in the ball pool and sensory caves.

Here is William admiring the cake his brother made!

A big thank you to all the staff for their welcome and fabulous food.

September 22, 2014 - Let's Sign - My 1st Signs

We've updated our latest app for the iPad, Let's Sign - My 1st Signs, so it's now compatible with iOS 8. It includes BSL sign graphics from the Let's Sign BSL Series by Cath Smith.

The unique activities in this app are ideal for children using British Sign Language (BSL) or Sign Supported English (SSE), and it also includes sign variants that will be recognisable to users of Makaton®.

Some but not all of the signs are the same as in ASL, AUSLAN and NZSL: if you would be interested in us extending the app to more fully support these, please let us know, so we can get an idea of the level of interest. Thanks!

All of our apps are now iOS8-compatible. They're also compatible with the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus (apart from My 1st Signs and Match & Find, which are for the iPad only).

September 22, 2014 - Touch apps

Touch-Words Touch-Numbers Touch-Colours Touch-Shapes Touch-Animals Touch-Emotions

Updated versions of our 6 Touch apps are now available for Apple and Android:

  • Apple versions now compatible with iOS 8
  • New CAPITAL LETTERS setting
  • Portuguese (Brazil) and Luxembourgish in Touch-Words
  • Portuguese (Brazil), Luxembourgish and Ukrainian in Touch-Animals
  • Turkish in Touch-Words

Many thanks to Cinthia Azevedo, Sandy Gratia, Tetiana Mykhailenko and Gün Bilgin for their help with translation and audio.

Find out more

September 19, 2014 - Special Words

Today we have released updated versions of Special Words.

We've added Luxembourgish and Brazilian Portuguese translations. Many thanks to Sandy Gratia and Cinthia Azevedo, who provided the text and audio, and to all our other volunteer translators around the world. It now supports 22 languages!

In response to feedback from several countries where children are first taught written words using all capital letters, we have added a CAPITAL LETTERS option to the app's settings.

The Apple version (left) is now compatible with iOS 8. The Android version (right) now has the option of using OpenDyslexic fonts, designed to increase readability for users with dyslexia (the Apple version already had this).

Special Words won second place in the Vodafone Foundation Mobile For Good Europe Awards last year, and has been demonstrated to deliver many benefits, including:

  • encouraging speaking and helping with clarity
  • increasing written word vocabulary
  • developing better hand-eye co-ordination
  • improving fine motor skills
  • building confidence and self-esteem

September 19, 2014 - Special Numbers

An updated version of Special Numbers for the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch is now available. This is now compatible with iOS 8.

We have also added a Turkish translation, kindly provided by Gün Bilgin and Fulya Ekmen of Down Sendromu Derneği Türkiye (Gün had previously translated Special Words and Special Stories for us).

Special Numbers also supports English (with choice of British and American), Catalan, French and Spanish, and allows you to replace the written and spoken words with your own translation and audio, so you can use it in any language.

With 6 different activities to support a variety of early number skills, this app is also highly configurable, to suit different levels of ability.

Find out more

September 18, 2014 - Special Stories

Today we have released updated versions of Special Stories for Apple and Android.

The Apple version (left) is now compatible with iOS 8. The Android version now has the option of using OpenDyslexic fonts (as shown on right), designed to increase readability for users with dyslexia (the Apple version already had this).

Special Stories makes it quick and fun to create your own stories, with photos and written and spoken words. Parents, teachers and therapists around the world use it with their children for:

  • presenting social stories
  • improving reading skills
  • encouraging spoken communication
  • home-school communication
  • and much more...

September 17, 2014 - App Updates Coming Soon!

We have lots of updates to our apps on iOS and Android coming very soon. The Apple versions will all be compatible with iOS 8 but, like lots of other developers, we are currently waiting for Apple to approve our updates.

Apple will release iOS 8 later today, but we strongly recommend NOT updating until you are sure compatible versions of all the apps you rely on are available. We'll let you know as soon as ours can be downloaded...

New for Apple & Android:

  • CAPITAL LETTERS setting you asked for in Special Words and the Touch apps
  • Portuguese (Brazil) & Luxembourgish in Special Words, Touch-Words & Touch-Animals

New for Apple:

  • Turkish in Special Numbers

New for Android:

  • OpenDyslexic fonts in Special Words and Special Stories (already on Apple)

September 4, 2014 - La Sauterelle Tactile

La Sauterelle Tactile is a French language site for finding educational apps adapted to the needs of children with special needs.

It has just published a great review of Match & Find (Relier et Trouver).

Relier et Trouver est une excellente application pour travailler plusieurs compétences dont la mémoire, l’association, l’identification et l’ordre.

[ Match & Find is an excellent app for working on several skills including memory, matching, identification and ordering. ]

This site has previously published reviews of two of our other apps, Special Words (Mots Spéciaux) and Special Stories (Histoires Spéciales).

Review of Relier et Trouver

Review of Mots Spéciaux

Review of Histoires Spéciales

September 3, 2014 - Important News about iOS 8

Apple is expected to announce the release of iOS 8 (the new version of its operating system for the iPad and iPhone) and a new larger iPhone, on 9th September. The current versions of many apps, from Special iApps and other developers, are NOT FULLY COMPATIBLE with iOS 8, because of substantial changes Apple has made.

We've been working hard over the last 3 months to update our apps, and anticipate releasing new versions later this month, that will look and behave just like the current versions. We suggest DELAYING UPDATING your devices to iOS 8 until you are sure there are compatible versions of all the apps you use.

Before you do update your iPad or iPhone to iOS 8, we strongly recommend BACKING UP YOUR PERSONAL DATA in our apps, as there's always a small risk with a major operating system update that things can go wrong.

Please DON'T RELY ON iCloud, as photos, text and audio you have added in our apps are not stored in iCloud. Instead, to be safe, use the EXPORT facility in our apps to email the contents in the app's own format, and save the email attachments somewhere else. If you are at all uncertain about how to do this, please contact us, tell us which apps you use, and we'll explain exactly what to do. It's better to be safe than sorry!

September 1, 2014 - Celebration Party

Special iApps turns 3!

September 1st marks our anniversary, it's now 3 years since we released our first app, Special Words, on the Apple App Store back in 2011. Thank you to everybody for giving us so much support over the last 3 years, we couldn't do what we do without your help.

We hope everyone in the northern hemisphere had a great summer break, recharged your batteries and are looking forward to going back to school!

Our annual celebration party at the Alan Shearer Centre in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, will be on September 20th from noon to 4:00pm, please join us if you can, and let us know if you are coming.

Bev, Colin and Barbara

July 25, 2014 - My 1st Signs: Now available!

Our latest app, Let's Sign - My 1st Signs, is now available for the Apple iPad on the App Store. It includes BSL sign graphics from the Let's Sign BSL Series by Cath Smith.

Designed to help children to learn signs through activities that encourage sign and word recognition, it can easily be adapted and personalised to meet the needs of each child as their language, vocabulary and communication skills develop.

Find out more

July 15, 2014 - Match & Find: Now in French

The latest version of our Match & Find app for the iPad now supports French, as well as English, Spanish and Catalan. Many thanks to Christelle Yong for providing the French translation.

This app is designed to help develop and improve young children’s matching, searching, ordering and memory skills.

Find out more

June 13, 2014 - My 1st Signs: Coming Soon!

Over the past four months we have been working with Cath Smith, author of the popular Let's Sign BSL Series. Cath also co-wrote the book Let's Sign and Down Syndrome with Dr Wendy Uttley.

Together with Cath we are developing apps that support children who sign. The first of these, My 1st Signs, is coming soon.

Find out more

June 4, 2014 - MOMs with apps

We are proud to announce that Special iApps is now a member of the MOMs with apps “KNOW what's inside” program.

Our apps are designed with your privacy in mind: they do not pop up adverts or requests for ratings or in-app purchases, they do not collect analytics data or any other information about you, and they do not send any of your data to us.

Read our privacy policy

May 20, 2014 - Fonts

Use any font in Special Words and Special Stories on iOS

A number of people have asked us if they could use a particular font they like in our Special Stories or Special Words apps, and we have now released updated versions of both for iOS to allow this. From the Extra Actions view in either app, tap the Settings button, and you will find a new Font setting.

You can choose from a variety of fonts:

  • The Special Letters font included in our apps is still the default. We now also include two OpenDyslexic fonts, designed to increase readability for users with dyslexia (as shown here).

  • You can use any font provided by Apple's iOS: over 200 are available as standard in iOS 7.

  • Provided your device is running iOS 7.0 or later, you can also install additional TrueType (.ttf) or OpenType (.otf) font files on the device and use these. If you have additional fonts you wish to install, we suggest using the AnyFont app to do this, and recommend that you use TrueType fonts (OpenType fonts may not display as intended in stories when printed or if emailed as a PDF file).

In Special Words, we have also changed the View Online Documentation facility to use Safari, and fixed a problem when selecting from a large number of profiles, just like for Special Stories (see previous blog entry).

April 27, 2014 - iOS Special Stories update

An updated version of Special Stories for iOS is now available:

  • We've increased the maximum sound recording duration to 60 seconds (that's already the limit in the Android version). If you want to add lots of written text to a page, remember that you can turn off Large Text in the app's settings to make it fit.
  • We've fixed a problem on iOS 7, where selecting from a large number of collections or stories (e.g. to print a story) was difficult because the list didn't scroll properly.
  • The View Online Documentation button in the Extra Actions view, which shows pages from our website, now opens Safari instead of showing them directly from Special Stories. This has the advantage that you can disable this (to prevent your child following links to other web sites) by using Apple's Restrictions or Guided Access facilities.
  • For users in countries such as Bulgaria and Ukraine, we've corrected the Cyrillic letter “а” in our font.

Find out more

April 22, 2014 - Ukrainian Special Words

Today we have released updated versions of Special Words for iOS and Android, to add a Ukrainian translation (Особливі Слова).

Our warmest thanks go to Yuri Vlasyuk, Anton Voloschuk and Irene Tymofeeva at iLand in Kiev for working with us over the last 7 months to translate the text and record the audio, and to Tetiana Mykhailenko and her colleagues at the Ukrainian Charitable Down Syndrome Organization for corrections and suggestions.

We have also added Ukrainian to Touch-Words. Special Words and Touch-Words now both support 20 languages, each with natively-spoken audio.

In 2011, the Ukrainian Charitable Down Syndrome Organization, with support from Down Syndrome Education International, translated and adapted the See and Learn Language and Reading Programme for Ukrainian, and our 2 apps include words and pictures from this.

We're sure everyone would like to join us in wishing all the people of Ukraine a peaceful outcome to the current crisis in their country.

April 13, 2014 - New app: Touch-Animals

A new app in our “Touch” collection, Touch-Animals, is available from today on the App Store for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch, and on Google Play for Android tablets and phones. Priced at 99¢ (US, Canada, Australia), 69p (UK), 89c (Euro).

This is a simple cause-and-effect app, with 12 animal pictures and corresponding written and spoken words in 19 languages. The pictures are the same as in our Match & Find app for the iPad.

Find out more

Also today, we have released an update to our Match & Find app, to add Spanish and Catalan translations. Many thanks to Pilar Clavera, Marta Montserrat and Montse Rovira-Prieto for their contributions to this.

Find out more

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