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Which device to use with the Tapestry app


Lauren
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This post was updated on 04/03/2021

Disclaimer: Recommendations for specific devices are just our opinion. If you feel differently please feel free to let us know! You can send a message with any corrections that you think should be made to customer.service@eyfs.info.

At this time we support iOS (Apple) devices using iOS 9 and above, Android devices using Android 4.4 and above, and recent Amazon Fire tablets using Amazon OS 5 or above.

Please note that support for iOS 9, 10 and 11 will be phased out in the short to medium term and it is likely that the minimum OS for Android and Fire devices will be increased too, so we always recommend getting the latest OS available with any new device purchase.

We do not have an app for Windows devices but you can still access the web browser version of Tapestry through them.

 

If you would like to a specific section please use the links below.

 

                    1. Requirements

                              a. A low regret choice

                         b. A budget choice

                         c. Tablets vs phones

                     2. The strengths and weaknesses of the different platforms we support

                         a. Apple iOS tablets

                         b. Amazon Fire tablets

                         c. Android tablets

                    3. How many devices do you need?

 

Requirements

A major requirement for Tapestry is a reasonable internet connection. We recommend a minimum of 2Mbps download and upload – the main reason for this is to facilitate the bandwidth for viewing and uploading videos. (You can test your connection from this page).

Although you can use the recent version of the app without an internet connection (although not the legacy/classic one), you’ll only be saving new observations and changes as drafts. They will not appear on your Tapestry account for anyone else to see (including your colleagues) until you connect to the internet.

Another requirement is that the operating system on your device is modern enough to be compatible with the app. Currently, that is iOS 9 and above for apple devices, Android 4.4 and above for Android devices, and OS 5 and above for the Amazon fire. If you are buying a new device, make sure it has the latest version of the relevant operating system and that its supplier will provide operating system updates for as long as you want the device to last. We try to support older versions of Android and iOS but it becomes increasingly hard (for us) and insecure (for you) and so we do have to periodically stop supporting older versions.

Other than the above, the most important thing to do when choosing a tablet to use in your school or setting(s), is making sure it's supported by your IT team (if you have one) and will be kept up to date by the manufacturer of the device.

So, if you are lucky enough to have an IT support team, a friend or family member who can help out, or your own expertise, choose a device that they (or you) prefer and know. If you do get on well with your smartphone it may be worth looking to see if that manufacturer also makes tablet devices you can use.

If there isn't anyone at your setting who has any IT expertise, you might want to consider going outside the setting for help. The intention of Tapestry is to make your life easier, but having computers and networks that you can't use could well cause a lot of frustration, so it is important to know you can get help with them if you need it.

Once you have a device in mind that you'll be confident setting up and using, try and get something that is also supported by the company that makes it. In particular, you want a company that provides regular software updates to fix security flaws and bugs. That means avoiding devices where they don't have a website that provides you at least some support information.

If you're looking for a specific recommendation then we suggest the following:

 

A low regret choice

A low regret choice is an iPad, bought directly from an Apple store. These are quite expensive though. Their cheapest option at the time of writing this is a Wifi only, 64GB, iPad 9th Generation for £319.

 

A budget choice

If, like many early years settings, you have quite a tight budget, one option is an Amazon Fire tablet. We have some of these in the office so we know they are compatible and we are able to test how updates to our app and to the tablet's operating system affect how Tapestry works on it. The device isn’t the most reliable though. Although many of our customers get on fine with them, we do hear about glitches fairly frequently. In almost all cases those are to do with the devices themselves e.g. because they have run out memory. Restarting them frequently should help with that but you may find that it doesn’t prevent it entirely.  As a budget option you may find that photos and videos taken through the device camera are quite low quality. Also, if you use Amazon's 'child profile' system to restrict user access to different features on the device (for example, web browsing) it will disable the use of the camera.

Amazon offer two models, one with 'Special Offers' and a more expensive version without 'Special Offers'. The cheaper device will show you adverts for Amazon products and services as you use it, so if you'd find this irritating we'd recommend paying around £10.00 extra for the version without these offers built in. We do own a device with the offers built in to make sure it will still work with Tapestry.

Most other 'Amazon Fire' devices you can buy today are compatible with the Tapestry app, though models dating from before September 2015 will not work with the Tapestry app. If in doubt do buy directly from Amazon to make sure you get an up to date device and to ensure you get good aftersales support.

 

Tablets vs phones

While we know that many of the parents and other relatives on Tapestry are using the app via their smartphones, generally the extra features of a smartphone are not necessary to use Tapestry in your setting, and you will benefit from the larger screen of a tablet in most situations. You should also consider the safeguarding implications of using smartphones instead of tablet devices in your setting.


 

The strengths and weaknesses of the different platforms we support

We support iOS (Apple) devices using iOS 9 and above, Android devices using Android 4.4 and above, and recent Amazon Fire tablets using Amazon OS 5 or above.

We do not have an app for Windows devices but you can still access the browser version of Tapestry through them.

Apple iOS tablets

Strengths:

  • The devices themselves are reliable and generally considered easy to use.
  • Apple provide good support (both for you, and for us, as app developers). In particular, they usually provide software updates for four years or so.
  • They take security seriously (most of this is invisible to you, but they have a lot of features that make it easier for the Tapestry app to be secure).
  • There aren't too many models, so it is quite likely we can test Tapestry on a device that is very similar to the one you use.

Weaknesses:

  • The cheapest device currently on the market (in October 2021) is £319.
  • Once Apple has stopped supporting a device, we have to stop supporting it pretty quickly as well - it is much harder to test on older versions of iOS than it is on older versions of Android. At the moment (October 2021), devices launched by Apple in 2013 or earlier are effectively obsolete and those launched before 2011 will not be able to run a version of iOS high enough to use our new app.

Amazon Fire tablets

Strengths:

  • They don't cost very much and do generally represent good value for money
  • Amazon provide a reasonable level of support (they do provide software updates for their devices and answer questions, though they can be a bit slow).
  • There aren't too many models, so it is quite likely we can test Tapestry on a device that is very similar to the one you use.

Weaknesses:

  • The tablet itself doesn't provide the quickest or smoothest experience and pictures/videos taken through the camera are quite low quality.
  • There are some bugs within the device itself that we have no control over and that they are slow to fix.
  • Less secure than iOS.

Android tablets

Strengths:

  • Massive variety: you can usually find an Android device that will suit your budget or other specific requirements. While there are genuine bargains out there, device performance will usually be related to the price you pay.

Weaknesses:

  • Massive variety: our records show that our users connect with more than 1000 different models of Android device. They should all work in the same way, but in practice they are subtly different. It is unlikely we will have tested on exactly the same device as you, which makes it hard to track down bugs.
  • Manufacturers vary in how much support they provide with many never providing a software update.
  • Less secure than iOS, particularly models that aren't running the latest version of Android.

If anyone has any specific recommendations or warnings about tablets they've tried, please let us know via customer.service@eyfs.info.
 

How many devices do you need?

We often get asked how many devices you need to buy for your setting. This can be a tricky question as it really will depend on your setting!

In an ideal world you would have one per staff member, but this is not always affordable. Generally get as many as you can afford so staff aren't wasting time waiting for their colleagues to finish using a device. You may be able to get by with less than one per staff member if your working patterns allow for it. If you buy too few you can always order more when this is apparent. Tapestry allows you to 'switch user' on the app relatively easily, so sharing devices won't be a problem.

If you are just trialing Tapestry you probably should just buy a couple of devices or borrow one, so you are not left with devices you don't need if you stop using Tapestry.

A protective case for each device is a good investment as a setting can be a messy and busy environment to use tablets in, and repairs or replacements are expensive. You should also think about how you are going to charge the battery on all the devices, how to keep them safe from burglary, and whether they should be insured.

If the worst does happen please see this guide here: The laptop, phone or tablet someone uses to access Tapestry has been lost or stolen

 

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  • 5 months later...

As a small pre-school needing to buy on a budget we are looking to purchase via Amazon a

Kindle Fire HD 8 Tablet with Alexa, 8" HD Display, 16 GB,

to use with tapestry. Having read pros and cons about Kindle we're wanting to make sure that these newer models will be suitable for our requirements, as it will be an expensive mistake if we get it wrong.

Any thoughts?

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