Device Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 4.2 or later.
Developmental Appropriateness: With so many alphabet focused apps out there, it's becoming harder and harder to pick out which ones to get. Some of the things I really look for are 1) repetition - the actual letter needs to be repeated over and over, 2) word associations - it's almost given that letters are paired up with words starting with that letter - are there a few different examples? Are the words appropriate? 3) Letter presentation - is it prominent? Does it get lost with the words? and now more and more with apps, 4) how are the interactive elements related? Cartoon ABC addresses my first three criteria really well. There's lots of clear repetition of the letters, it's paired with three different examples where the actual letter is highlighted, and each presentation begins and ends with only the letter. So yes, this is a solid ABC app. However, when compared to some other ones, this one does not capitalize on the affordances of the device - there's not the same interactive quality as seen in other apps - it's more like watching little video clips. Rating: 4/5 (aim for around 3 years)
Balance: The animations are simple and cute. My only critique would be with the main menu. It's nice that you can pick any letter to work with, but they are not all labeled on the main menu -some are, some aren't - so kids can't automatically go to a specific letter, without thinking about it (yes, it's in alphabetical order). Rating: 4/5
Sustainability: There's a nice variety of picture and animation. But again, I do think kids are gonna have an expectation for interaction features, which this does not have. So while this app does clearly and nicely present the content, after seeing all the different animations, kids may want to seek more action elsewhere in terms of an app. Rating: 3.5/5
Parental Involvement: There is a parent report section where it shows which letters kids have looked at. Again, I think these types of reports are great starts. This also points at a need for a better main menu labeling system so parents can easily tap on the letters they want their kids to work with next. Rating: 4/5
Total: 15.5 out of 20 - 4 stars
Disclosure - I received this app for free for review purposes.