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Special Stories User Guide - Extra Actions

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Special Stories includes facilities to transfer stories between devices. So you could, for instance, export from a phone and import to a tablet. You can also open your stories in Special Words (or Special Words Pro) and Special Sentences, and email them PDF format. Except in the case of PDF, these features allow you to transfer the spoken words for a story, as well as its text and pictures.

On iOS: Tapping the Actions button at the top left in the main view reveals a choice of extra actions. In version 2.8.0 and later, unless you have disabled the Child Safety Gate in Settings, you will have to enter the answer to a simple calculation in order to proceed.

On Android: The following features are available in the Sharing view in Special Stories, which you can access by tapping Sharing in the main view's menu.

Some of these will permanently remove your existing stories from Special Stories, so use with caution:

Special Stories - extra actions iOS

Settings

Tap the Settings button to inspect or change the app's settings. Refer back to Chapter 7 for details of all the settings options.

View Online Documentation

This displays the current online documentation for Special Stories, from the Special iApps website. If you are not running the latest version, we suggest you update the app, otherwise the documentation may not exactly describe the version you are using. You will need to have an Internet connection (using Wi-Fi or cellular data) in order to access the documentation.

This will launch Apple's Safari app: you can prevent this by disabling Safari in the Settings app (in General > Restrictions) or by running Special Stories using Apple's Guided Access facility.

Manage Collections

As explained in in Chapter 6, you can group stories together into named collections. Tapping this button presents a view showing all the collections you have, and allows you to add and remove them, rename them and select which one you want to be working with. Refer back to Chapter 6 for full details.

Print Story

On iOS: You can use this either to print a story to an AirPrint-enabled printer, or to email a story in PDF format for subsequent printing.

When you tap this button, you are presented with the list of stories you have created: tap the title of the one you would like to print or email. You are then presented with a choice of Send to Printer or Email as PDF. Choose the option you prefer, and then follow Apple's standard dialogs for printing or sending an email. If you have more than one collection, you will be prompted to choose a collection, and then to select a story from that collection.

The font face and text size in the printed story are determined by the Font and Large Text settings, just as when viewing the story within Special Stories, as described in Chapter 7.

On Android: 

In Android 4.4 and later, you can print stories directly to any Android-compatible printer. For earlier versions, you can email stories as PDF files and then print them elsewhere.

The Print Story button is only present if the device is running Android 4.4 or later. Tapping this allows you to choose a story to print. If you have more than one collection, you will be prompted to choose a collection, and then to choose from the stories in that collection. You are then presented with the standard Android printing dialog, allowing you to choose an available printer and to select which pages to print.

To print directly, you must already be able to print from Android's standard apps, e.g. Chrome. If you cannot print from these, you will not be able to print from Special Stories. Compatible printers and printing services include HP ePrint printers and Google Cloud Print.

Please Note

To print directly, you must already be able to print from Apple's standard apps, e.g. Mail and Safari. If you cannot print from these, you will not be able to print from Special Stories. However, provided you have an email account set up on your device, you can always email a story as a PDF attachment, and then pick up the email on a Mac or PC that has access to a printer, and print from there. Alternatively, there are programs available to AirPrint-enable the printer queues on a Mac or PC: we successfully use Printopia 2 for Mac.

Opening in Special Words 

When you choose this option, your device switches to the Special Words app, where you should select Add new profile. Each page in the story is transferred as its own word, picture and sound card. If you have long lines of text in the story, you may need to edit them afterwards in Special Words to make them shorter.

It is also possible to transfer words, pictures and sounds in the opposite direction, from Special Words to Special Stories, as explained in the Special Words User Guide.

Opening in Special Sentences

When you choose this option, your device switches to the Special Sentences app, where you should select Add new collection (if you have exported a whole collection) and Add new topic. Each story is copied as a topic, and each page in a story as a sentence in the topic. If you have long lines of text in the story, you may need to edit them afterwards in Special Sentences to make them shorter.

It is also possible to transfer topics and sentences in the opposite direction, from Special Sentences to Special Stories, as explained in the Special Sentences User Guide.

Export Story and Import Story

These 2 buttons allow you to transfer stories between devices. So you could, for instance, export from an iPhone and import to an iPad or an iPod touch. From here you can also copy your stories to Special Words and Special Sentences, and to Apple Books (formerly iBooks), and email them in EPUB and PDF formats. Except in the case of PDF, these options allow you to transfer the spoken words for a story, as well as its text and pictures.

Tapping Export Story first presents you with a list of the stories you have created: tap the title of the one you would like to export. If you have more than one collection, you will be prompted to choose a collection, and then to choose from the stories in that collection. An alternative to exporting a single story is to export the whole collection: to do this, select All stories in collection at the top of the list of stories.

On iOS: You are then presented with a choice of Use Email and Use Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, and Copy to... You will then be presented with a list of possible formats to export. The available formats depend on whether you have chosen to export an individual story or a whole collection.

On Android: ​You are then presented with a choice of Use emailUse Wi-Fiand Use Bluetooth. You get the same choice immediately if you tap Import story. There is also a choice Open In “Special Sentences, if Special Sentences has been installed on the device. When exporting a single story (not a whole collection), there is an extra choice Open In “Special Words, if Special Words has been installed on the device. If your device doesn't have Bluetooth and/or Wi-Fi, the associated choices are not offered.

Special Stories - export options iOS     Special Stories - export options Android

Exporting using Email

You can use this to send an individual story, or a whole collection, to yourself or somebody else, as an email attachment. When exporting a single story, the available formats are:

  • Email as Special Stories

    This sends the story in Special Stories format, including text, pictures and sounds. The recipient will only be able to read and edit it if they have installed Special Stories on their device. This is the only format that can be imported back into Special Stories.

  • Email as Special Sentences

    This choice is only offered if you also have Special Sentences installed on your device. This converts the story or stories into topics in Special Sentences format, with text, pictures and sound. The recipient will only be able to read and edit it if they have installed Special Sentences on their device.

  • Email as Special Words

    Suitable if the recipient has Special Words or Special Words Pro on their device.

  • Email as PDF

    This sends the story as a PDF file, with text and pictures but no sounds, as described above for Print Story. (At Android 4.4 and later, the PDF file will use the same font as set in the app's settings, and can include any characters. At earlier versions of Android, the PDF file always uses Helvetica font, and can only include Western European characters.)

  • EPUB (Available on iOS only)

    This sends the story in a format suitable for opening in iBooks on iOS 6-11, Apple Books on iOS 12 and later, and in iBooks or Apple Books on OS X or macOS. The story includes text, pictures and sounds.

To export, simply choose the desired option, add the recipient to the otherwise already completed email message, and send. When exporting a whole collection of stories, the EPUB or PDF options are not available.

You may want to use this as a backup facility, if you've carefully added stories that you want to be sure you won't lose (e.g. if the device is damaged or lost). In this case, we recommend selecting Email as Special Stories, as this is the only option that allows for re-importing into Special Stories and updating subsequently.

Importing using Email

To import a story or collection previously exported via email, you need to view the email in the Mail app on the importing device, and tap on the attachment in the email message. If the attachment is in Special Stories format, this will automatically open the Extra Actions / Sharing view in Special Stories and ask you to confirm importing the data. You will be offered the choice of creating a new collection containing just that story, or adding the story (or replacing an existing story) in any of your existing collections. If the attachment is in EPUB or PDF format, it cannot be opened in Special Stories, but if you have Apple Books or a PDF reader installed on your device you will be able to open it in that. 

Tapping the Import Story button and choosing the Use Email option, will pop up a message reminding you to use an email app instead.

Using email export and import, it is also possible to transfer stories and collections between Special Stories running on Android and Special Stories running on an Apple mobile device, in either direction.

Special Stories - import options iOS     Special Stories - import options Android

Exporting and Importing using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi

You can use Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to transfer a story of collection directly between two devices that both have Special Stories installed, without having to go via email. The devices must be physically close to each other, and either (a) have Wi-Fi enabled and be connected to the same Wi-Fi network, or (b) have Bluetooth enabled. Alternatively, if both devices are Apple and have a Lightning connector (as opposed to the older 30-pin connector), and are not connected to a Wi-Fi network, but have Wi-Fi turned on, this will still work. Use the Settings app to turn these on as necessary, before trying to export and import.

On iOS: With the Extra Actions view visible on both devices, tap Export Word List and choose Use Bluetooth or Wi-Fi on the source device. Then tap Import Word List and choose Use Bluetooth or Wi-Fi on the destination device. Each device will prompt you to allow a connection with the other. Once the data has all been transferred, you will be asked to confirm importing it into the app on the destination device.

Bluetooth on Android: Please ensure you have already paired the devices using their Bluetooth settings. 

With the Sharing view visible on both devices, tap Export word list and choose Use Bluetooth on the source device, and tap Import word listand choose Use Bluetooth on the destination device. 

The source device will prompt you to allow Bluetooth to be turned on if not already on, and to allow the device to be discoverable. The destination device will prompt you to allow Bluetooth to be turned on if not already on. The destination device will then present a list of devices with which it has been paired: select the source device by tapping the > right arrow next to it. 

Data transfer will then start. If the source device is not shown on the destination device, go back and pair the devices, then start again. Once the data has all been transferred, you will be asked to confirm importing it into the app on the destination device.

This option cannot be used to transfer data between Android and Apple (iOS) devices: use email or Wi-Fi instead.

Please Note

Devices running Special Stories 2.6.0 and later cannot connect using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi with devices running earlier versions. Devices running iOS 6 can only use this feature over Wi-Fi, not Bluetooth.

When using email or Wi-Fi, you can transfer to/from Android devices running Special Stories. This is not possible when using Bluetooth, because iOS and Android have incompatible Bluetooth implementations.

The following 3 options are available for iOS users only

Copy to ...

You can use this to copy a single story or a whole collection in Special Stories format to a variety of destinations:

  • To Apple Books (iBooks)

    If you have Apple's Books app (iOS 12 or later) or iBooks app (iOS 11 and earlier) installed on your device, and have chosen format EPUB, selecting Copy to Books will allow you to add a copy of the story to your Books library. To turn the pages in Books, swipe across the text. To play the sound for each page, tap the picture: sounds are not played automatically as you turn the pages. The font size for the text in the book is determined by whether the Large Text setting in Special Stories is ON or OFF when you export the story: you cannot adjust the text size from within Books (although you can choose to view using a different font face).

  • To another device using AirDrop

    If you have another device with Special Stories installed, and both devices support AirDrop, you can AirDrop the story or collection to the other device. When you accept the file on the other device, Special Stories will automatically launch, and allow you to import the story or collection.

  • To certain cloud-storage apps

    If you have installed the DropBox, Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive app on your device, you can copy the story or collection to these cloud services. You may like to use this to create cloud backups of important stories, or to share stories with other people who have Special Stories.

    If your device runs iOS 10, and you have enabled the iCloud Drive app, you can copy the story or collection to iCloud Drive by using the Copy to ... button and selecting the option Add To iCloud Drive. This is not possible at iOS 9 or earlier. In iOS 11 and later, Add to iCloud Drive is replaced by Save to Files.

Please Note

Content and settings in Special Stories are not automatically synchronised between devices connected to the same iCloud account: it is left to you to manually export and/or import on each device, on a collection-by-collection or individual story basis.

You may want to use one of the above options as a backup facility, if you've carefully added stories that you want to be sure you won't lose (e.g. if the device is damaged or lost). In this case, we recommend selecting Use Email, with format Special Stories, as this is the only option that allows for re-importing into Special Stories and updating subsequently.

Downloading from Special iApps

Selecting Download from Special iApps will present you with a list of collections in our free online library at Special iApps, from which you can download various stories. (This option is only available on devices running Android 4.4 or later.)

The first time you do this on a particular device, you will be prompted to register or activate. You need to register once, and then use the product key you will receive by email to activate the app on each device where you'd like to use this feature. Answers to common questions about product registration can be found in our FAQ.

The screenshot on the left shows the stories in the Annual Events collection.

Simply select the list you would like, and once downloaded choose Add new when prompted.

This facility was introduced at version 3 on iOS and version 4 on Android. Some lists contain text, images and audio. Others only include text and images, or just images: the intention in these cases is that you add your own written words and/or voice to suit your needs.

Special Stories - downloading a story iOS     Special Stories - downloading a story Android

Importing from a Website or Cloud Service

An exported story or collection in Special Stories format can be hosted on a website, as a file with a .siast suffix. This can then be imported into Special Stories by visiting the website in a web browser, such as Safari or Chrome, and tapping the link to the file.

On iOS: This will open the Extra Actions view in Special Stories to import it, just like when importing from an email attachment.

You can also import a story or collection from a cloud service such as Dropbox, Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive. If you don't have the relevant app on your device, but you have a shared web link for a Special Stories .siast file on one of these services, you can import by visiting the link in Safari, as in the previous paragraph.

On Android: An exported story or collection in Special Stories format can be hosted on a website, as a file with a .siast suffix. This can then be imported into Special Stories by visiting the website in a web browser such as Chrome, and tapping the link to the file. This will download the file: once complete, open your Downloads app, and tap the file. This will automatically open the Sharing view in Special Stories to import it, just like when importing from an email attachment.

In order for this to work, the website must identify files with a .siast suffix as having MIME type application/vnd.specialiapps.siast. Consult your website administrator about this.

Please Note

Using iCloud will NOT automatically backup or restore your content: you must use the iTunes program on a PC or Mac, or the export facilities described here.

When you import a story (using email, website, AirDrop, cloud service, Bluetooth or Wi-Fi) if you have already created one or more stories, you will be offered the choice of replacing any of your existing stories or adding as a new story. Use the Add new storyoption if you don't want to overwrite any of your existing stories.

If you choose to replace, the story you select will be completely removed. You cannot undo this once you've done it. This option is intended primarily for where you have an updated version of an existing story, and you don't want to keep the old version.

If you choose to add, the imported story will be added as a new one, without overwriting any existing stories. One use for this is if you've updated the same story separately on both devices, and want to keep both sets of updates. You could then merge your updates by using the Copy button in the page editing view to transfer updates in one of the stories to the other, and then delete one of the stories: this is discussed in more detail in Chapter 5. Be careful, as keeping several stories with the same title can be confusing.

If you import a whole collection of stories, you similarly have the choice of adding as a new collection, or replacing one of your existing ones. If you choose to replace, any existing stories in the collection will be lost. You cannot undo this once you've done it. If you don't want to lose any of your existing material, use the Add new collection option.

When using email to transfer a story or collection, be aware that there are limits on attachment sizes. Sending the recipient a link to download from a cloud service will avoid these limits. Also, owing to limitations in how a number of email apps on Android send attachments with custom MIME types, you may find that you cannot import an email attachment on Android sent from an Android device, because the email app will say that there's no suitable app to handle the attachment. This is more likely if you are using a version of Special Stories earlier than 1.5.0. If you also have an iOS device with Special Stories, a workaround is to email from Android to iOS, import on iOS, and then export back to Android.

Another workaround for the MIME problem is to email the file to a Windows PC, save the attachment to disk there, and send on from there in a new email (not by forwarding the original email). However, before doing this, you must first register the MIME types for Special iApps attachments with your PC. To do this, download to your PC our Registration Entries File, and run it. If Windows prompts you whether to allow Registry Editor to make changes to the computer, click Yes, and if it asks Are you sure you want to continue?, click Yes again: this file will not harm your PC.

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