Monday, April 30, 2012

LH Animal Sounds

Animal Sounds was developed by Synthcomm sp. z o.o. It should come as no surprise that in general, kids love animals. Animal names and sounds are some of the first words and sounds babies make. It makes sense then that animals is the subject matter of many apps. Do these apps, specifically, Animal Sounds, capture what makes animals so appealing to kids? Price: $1.99

Device Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 4.2 or later.

Developmental Appropriateness: From the research world, we know that kids, even babies, attend to animals more than inanimate objects. For example, babies under 1-year would watch realistic videos of animals more than they would watch videos of inanimate objects moving. What is it about animals that make them so interesting? I'm sure experts in biophilia have studied and can say more about factors like face and the movement of animals that make us attend to animals. So before I digress too much more, my point is that I think these factors should be taken into consideration when looking at an app about animals. You might be thinking that maybe I'm taking this too far - an animal app is just a fun, simple app for kids. True. But I do think that consideration of realistic photos or videos and the movement and characteristics of the animals can separate an ok animal app from a great animal app.

So Animal Sounds - The animals are pretty cartoonish, with many of them dressed in clothing. Again, young kids have an easier time generalizing from what they see in a book to the real world when the images look more realistic. I'm not saying that they have to be photographs only, but the images here are really not realistic. With each image, there is a female voice saying, "The cow goes moo." The voice is animated and kid-friendly. While this might simulate a parent reading with their child, the animal sounds are not at all realistic. Finally, if you tap on the picture, it moves up and down, but not in any motion that an animal would make. So while this may be a fun app for parents to use with their child and make some animal sounds together, this app does not really capture what may make animals so interesting to kids. Rating: 3/5 (aim for around 3 years).

Balance - In order to choose what animal to look at, there's a kinda wheel on the side that you would spin. While I like this feature, a 2 year old may have some trouble spinning it. I'm not sure how the animals are organized within this wheel, so it might take a little effort to figure out where the favorites might be.  The written label is provided at the bottom of the screen but it doesn't highlight or it doesn't repeat so kids can hear the label again. Only the animal sound is repeated if you tap on the picture. Also, I rarely mention in-app purchases or links as I like to just focus on the content, but there's a pretty attractive and distinctive icon of a super hero in the top corner that leads you to access other apps by the developers. This icon is not just on like the main menu page, but is present throughout the app. I can see kids easily tapping on this icon and accidentally exiting out of the app. Rating: 3/5

Sustainability - There are 44 animals - which is a good amount. But again, since this app does not really capture the essence of the animals, I'm not sure to what extent kids will keep coming back to it. Rating: 3/5

Parental Involvement - Animals are an easy topic for parents to talk about with their kids. This app seems to be one where parents should play along. Rating: 3/5

Total: 12 out of 20 - 3 stars

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