Device Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.Requires iOS 3.1.3 or later
Developmental Appropriateness: So the way this works is that you have to download and print out flashcards. Then using the app on your device, you point the camera at the cards and the virtual 3d image will show up on your screen. You can then tap on the image on your screen and it will label the letter and animal. Or, if you so happen to own TWO iOS devices, there is no need to print out the cards - you load the cards on one device and use the other to view. (Warning - This latter method may make you feel like an Apple ad, as it did for me!) Ok -so the technology aspect of this is awesome. I think kids will be fascinated by it and will want to try all the different cards. And of course, alphabet letters is appropriate material for toddlers to be learning. So anyway to engage them in the material is great. BUT - and I think those who are more regular readers of this blog know what's coming.... I don't think these AR cards are the best for learning. They are like pop-up books, actually, they are even more novel and interesting than pop-up books. And research has shown that pop-up features can be distracting to children when it comes to learning the intended material. Do they like it? Yes. Do they learn as much as they would without the pop-up features? No. At this age, they are simply too easily distracted. Rating: 3/5 (aim for around 3 years).
Balance: Please don't get me wrong here - I like pop-up books and I like this whole AR thing. So maybe there are ways to make it less distracting. For example, with this app, when the image pops up, it covers the letter all together. Out of sight, out of mind. And yes, I guess you can look at the cards on their own, but who's really going to do that when it's so cool to look at it with the app? So any way to highlight the to-be-learned material would make this better. In this case, the to-be-learned material are the letters, not the animals - and that does not really come through. Rating: 2/5
Sustainability: I think kids will want to show everyone this app. So in that sense, I see long term use. But again, the focus would be on the AR, not the letters. Rating: 4/5
Parental Involvement: I think there's some potential in this area. If parents have to print out the cards, it makes them have to have at least some initial involvement, which may lead to more overall involvement. Also, the AR aspect will make this interesting for parents - so there's a something for the kids, and something for the parents too. So hopefully, this app will make parents want to be involved, which is really needed to help kids see beyond the AR images and focus on the letters too. And I'm also hoping that if the kids are excited about the images, it could lead to more conversations about the letters and animals. Rating: 4/5
Total: 13 out of 20 = 3 stars
Disclosure - I received this app for free for review purposes.