The Revolution will Be Downloadable
Taking Stock of Other Child Friendly AppsTaking a quick tour of what is available on iTunes, there are a few other apps that are worth checking out:
There are many piano apps on iTunes. The one I like is Virtuoso 2 which is just a free piano emulator that kids can play on, but RedFish Piano is more child friendly, offers the ability to playback their tunes, and gives other fun interactive elements.
Toy Story Read Along is a free digital book published by Disney which includes a read-along story, interactive games, and even some digital colouring pages. Think of it as a Leap Frog Tag book on steroids – it’s a fantastic, colourful book that is sure to please parents and child alike. Other Disney digital books are pretty expensive at $8.99 a copy, so this free Toy Story read along is definitely great value!
Source credit: Apple iTunes.
Sesame Street has a podcast which features short 6 to 7 minute video clips from the popular educational TV show and features special guests like Jimmy Fallon and Hugh “Wolverine” Jackman teaching the meaning of words like “Inspect” and “Concentrate” with Elmo. Definitely worth subscribing to and keeping in your iPod library.
“Elmo says it’s hard to inspect something while Jimmy keeps laughing at his own jokes.”
There are other apps worth checking out like Animals Matching HD which is a memory game for $1.99 and Baby Flash Cards 2 HD (there is a free Lite version here).
The iPad Really Ready for Kids and Their Parents?Unlike the iPhone or iPod, the iPad is a more useful form factor for children. The larger screen makes it easier for kids to interact with software, and software developers can spend a bit more time making things more interesting by taking advantage of more screen real estate.
But even though the iPad is a good size for toddlers, the current library of iPad apps and resources available for children is a bit lacking at the moment. There are a lot of memory apps, flash cards, math tutors, and drawing packages, however none of those I would really consider inspiring or even all that interesting.
What the iPad is missing is a good set of thoughtful children-specific apps that are creative, recognizable, and valuable (i.e. worth replaying or revisiting time and time again). What would be really interesting is for Leap Frog to adapt their popular Tag and Tag Jr. books into an iPad equivalent, or if Nicktoons had an app which had monthly interactive “magazines” featuring their popular characters like Dora and the Backyardigans (I’d easily pay $4.99 per issue!).
My son (32 months) mastering swiping just after a brief demonstration by me.
While there the iPad makes a great media player for kids and offers some apps that kids may find fun, I don’t think there is a compelling application (or set of applications) at the moment that really takes advantage of all that the device has to offer. I definitely feel there’s an untapped market here thanks to the iPad’s size, shape, and mode of interaction – it’s perfect for kids! All we need now is a pioneering media or publishing company to really invest the time and resources to bring their licenses or properties to the iPad in a way that is fun and educational for kids. (As much as I support and encourage small developers, this is one area where brand recognition and larger development resources are needed to help appeal to a mass market).
The iPad has the potential to become the Speak & Spell for our generation, and I think that’s an accomplishment that I think Steve Jobs can retire comfortably with.
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iPad apps used in this article (Direct Links to iTunes):