I had a chance to get the low-down from Ali Özgür (http://www.pragmasql.com) about his new MoodleTouch app which will be fully released in the next two weeks. The app is the first native app for the iPhone, meaning that anyone can download the app (which will be a paid app) and use it to access ANY (yes, ANY) existing Moodle installation as long as:
- They have an account already on that Moodle site
- They are enrolled in courses already
Compared to the two other mobile apps reviewed and discussed on Moodle Monthly–Moodle4iPhone (http://iphone.moodle.com.au) and the MLE (http://mle.sourceforge.net/)–this app differs substantially because it has no server side installation needs, perhaps a step-up for those without the technical savvy to install additional Moodle plug-ins. It’s a definite plus for students that are seeking to access their Moodle easily from their mobile, that is, if they can spare the few dollars to purchase it.
So how’d he do it? Here’s some additional info on how created the native app (from the PragmaSQL blog):
To overcome this limitation we use some visual pattern matching techniques to make Moodle output fit on the IPhone, you can think MTouch as a customized somehow intelligent browser for Moodle which is optimized for IPhone screen size and utilizes IPhone UI best practices.
You can try out the app using a Windows based version (visit: http://www.moodletouch.com to download the exe; I have tried it and it’s well worth the install) that gives a good hands-on demonstration of accessing any Moodle site using the app. Ali tells me that this will be very close to the look and feel of the app when it’s released in the near future. However with a bit more testing and coding the new app will support most (if not all) standard Moodle activities and resources and will provide a handy on-the-go access point using an iPhone or web-enabled iPod Touch (it appears that the choice activity, and potentially others are not yet supported). When the app is available Ali suggests all potential buyers/users to download the Windows version to test what works/doesn’t on a specific Moodle site before purchasing the app.
Though students and teachers will be able to pay for a non-branded version, schools and organizations will also be able to contract directly with Ali and his team to have 1-off applications created that connect to their Moodle site only and come complete with a branded logo and entry into the Apple App Store. Ali’s company will help with the submission/creation process. This customized version will be based on student enrollment numbers but will provide a substantial savings over the individual fee that students pay.
Organizations contracting directly with PragmaSQL could potentially sell this as an app to their students (to offset costs or even help support the Moodle).
In any event, this appears to be a hot new contender in the Mobile Moodle app market. Can we see one for Android?
Here are some screen shots of the app I grabbed while using the Windows version:
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More info at http://moodletouch.com