TED: Inspiration, Education and Motivation on the Go

Technology, Entertainment, Design — those three words make up TED, the non-profit organization dedicated to bringing together some of the world’s biggest thinkers and doers to share “ideas worth spreading.” TED has been about since 1984, and in that time you have probably come across one or two of their talks, even if it was just because a friend shared the video on Facebook.

One of the popular ways of discovering and viewing TED content has always been through the TED website. However, if you wanted to take the power of ideas with you on the go, then the TED app is well worth taking a look at. Is it for you? Let’s find out. 

Getting Started

The TED app lets you keep up-to-date with new TED videos as they are uploaded and lets you view them while you are out and about. This means that you don’t need to be stuck behind your computer to take in inspiring, funny and mind expanding presentations.

Finding TED in the App Store and the TED loading screen

Finding TED in the App Store and the TED loading screen

When it comes to finding the TED app in the AppStore, it is understandable that a hint of confusion might set in. The choice is extensive with TED, TED + SUB, TED Global and TEDTalk Mobile, amongst others. For the purpose of this review, we will be looking at plain old TED by TED Conferences. If you like subtitles with your videos than go with TED +SUB: TED Talks with Subtitles; while it’s a different app and layout, it has pretty good reviews.

Finding Your Feet

When you launch the TED app, you will be met by a patchwork of speakers and the TED logo while the app loads. Once loaded, you will find yourself on the Featured Page.

At the bottom of the screen you will see five icons. First is the Featured icon, which is also the screen you are currently on. The Featured icon is followed by the Inspire Me icon which is similar to a browse screen but on steroids. Then you have the Archives, Search and My Talks icons, the last of which displays a list of any talks you have bookmarked or downloaded.

What You Can Do With TED

TED is all about hearing people speak. Whether you want to laugh, be shocked, be inspired or just get information, the TED app makes your mission incredibly simple. Let’s look a little closer at how you can do this.

Featured

The featured page is where you will find the newest and most popular talks on TED. The availability is up-to-date with the traditional website so you can rest assured that you won’t be missing anything by using the app.

The TED featured page and an example of the talk details screen

The TED featured page and an example of the talk details screen

Selecting any of the talks brings you to the Talk Details page. You can learn when the talk was posted, what it is about, information on the speaker and you have the ability to share, bookmark and/or save the talk. Clicking on the video launches a new screen but you can easily return by pressing the done button.

The featured page is also where you can access TED radio, a linear stream of whatever TEDTalk is playing at the moment.

Inspire Me

The Inspire Me section is, in my opinion, the real gem of the app. From here you select the category (e.g. persuasive, jaw-dropping, courageous) and indicate how much time you have available (in increments of five minutes) to watch. You will then be presented with a random video that meets your two selections.

Select your category and how much time you have

Select your category and how much time you have

Archives and Search

Under the archives tab, you can look through all of the TED talks via themes, tags and ratings (divided into categories). The search option functions like most search engines, with a space to enter your search term.

Searching the archives and viewing my bookmarked talks

Searching the archives and viewing my bookmarked talks

My Talks

The My Talks page is where you need to go if you want to view the talks you have bookmarked (not stored on your device) or downloaded (stored on your device). The share button at the top right lets you email a list, with links, of your bookmarked talks. Deleting the talks is done via the edit button or by swiping the talk to activate a delete button.

Conclusion

There is no argument that TED has a huge array of inspiring and thought provoking talks in its database. However, if you are a bit like me, you recognize how all that choice can feel a bit overwhelming. Typically, the TED talks I have watched have been because of a recommendation rather than from going to the website and finding something interesting. The TED app fixes this and is one of the best things about the app. It is so easy to find talks that interest you and with the Inspire Me button, you can even tailor what you find to fit your mood and time availability.

There is one slight hitch I have with the app, and that is that there seems to be no way to remove talks you have saved for later via the Inspire Me search. I’ve tried swiping, playing to the end, bookmarking and unbookmarking, yet nothing seems to get rid of those items.

That small point aside, the TED app is a well designed and easy to use app that will have you getting the most out of all those TED talks.


Summary

Search, watch, explore and download TED content with your iPhone.

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