Mobile App Review – mTouch

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This week I’ll be focusing on reviewing the various released and soon-to-be-released Mobile (both native and web) apps for Moodle.  These apps each are for Moodle 1.9 or previous versions and are available either through the App markets on iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch and Android or by download directly from the developing organizations websites.  If you have specific questions about usability or features which I haven’t covered, just let us know in the comments.

In most cases I am testing the sites/apps using a borrowed iPad or my Android 2.1 handset and am accessing a copy of the Moodle Features Demo Course from http://demo.moodle.net.

For a complete and growing list, check out our new Mobile services collection: Moodlenews.com/mobile

MoodleTouch (mTouch)

Ali Ozgur, a member of the development team at mTouch, set me up with a Developer’s version of the App a few weeks before release on the iPad.  So I was able to use a fully functional version, but didn’t have to pay the normal $2.99 fee.  Note that most of my testing of this app has occurred on the iPad version though you can easily test out the iPod Touch version by using the downloader/emulator that MoodleTouch has posted on their website (MoodleTouch.com).

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As stated clearly on their site, this is the first “native app” for Moodle, which means that no server side installation is required.   Getting started requires only a purchase and then entering your Moodle URL, username and password.  It’s straightforward, though I have heard that some sites (subdomains or /moodle) can cause some (or once did cause) login issues.

First Impressions: The App is pretty nice aesthetically, with color coordinated resources/activities framing a digital blackboard.  All the tools are pushed to the perimeter of the iPad (which displays only in landscape view).  It also has a quick open clip board so that you can store copied text (making it available for pasting later…even in another session entirely).

Logged into a course it displays all of the topic weeks cleanly and without having to navigate several pages/touches.  Each resource/activity opens as it’s own popup with a “O” signifying the button to close it (I griped about this one to the developers already).  Most resources and activities (chat, glossary, upload/online assignment) open natively within the app, but a few, like the Choice activity open up a framed version of your site (sans theme).

One thing I don’t care for is that linked resources (like images, docs, or mp3s) open up a popup first, then finally open after clicking again.  It’d be nice to cut down on the number of clicks but the overall the app works as advertised.

Breakdown:

The good:

  • Fully functional Moodle modules (at least all the standard ones)
  • Nice design and easy to use layout
  • Supports both topic and weekly formats
  • Displays embedded images/videos in the course view (Awesome!)
  • Some cool drag/release features to dock open resources/activities (makes multitasking in Moodle easier)

The bad:

  • Some extra tapping/touching required for linked resources
  • Loads of buttons (not always a good thing)
  • No block support

As a bonus, it appears that the MoodleTouch team is working on a project to create a cross platform app for Moodle which will make sites more accessible via any OS or phone.  Seems like a much different project so I’ll run a separate review once it’s available to play with.  More information available at http://mtouch.pragmasql.com/Home.mvc

Screenshots¹:

¹Screenshots from the MoodleTouch official site (sorry no dice on making my own iPad screenshots yet)

5 COMMENTS

  1. Joe, not sure if mTouch will be released as a native app to those markets, more likely is that the mTouch-U app that they’re working on will focus on all markets. You can check it out now on any browser/any device and provide them feedback. Could be a great asset to anyone seeking a more mobile Moodle.

  2. Joseph thanks for the cool review.
    Browser and mobile os compatibility table for mTouch-U can be found here http://www.pragmasql.com/home/moodletouch/mtouchubrowsersupport.aspx

    By the way we already have full support for
    – Enrolled course listing
    – Display course outline of a selected course
    – Full assignment module support
    – Full forums module support

    We will introduce support for Glossaries,events,chats and resources within couple of days as well.

    Anybody can test mTouch-U from their mobile device by pointing their browser to http://mtouch.pragmasql.com/MoodleLogin.mvc/Login
    or http://mtouch.pragmasql.com/

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