Picky Kid Rating: 3.1
Another day, another ABC app — at least that’s how it feels for us sometimes! One thing that differentiates ABC Day is its undersea setting… You get to POP BUBBLES while the alphabet song is playing. Otherwise, there’s not much unique here, though it’s worth checking out if you don’t already have similar apps.
When we first got ABC Day, we downloaded it to the iPad. Whoopsies! This is one of those apps that’s compatible with iPad. In other words, you can play it tiny in the middle of your screen, or at “2x” with cruddy-looking pixelated graphics. We did that a couple of times until I couldn’t stand it any more and moved it over to the iPhone.
ABC Day offers four different alphabet-related activities from the home screen. (If you’ve just started the app, you’ll need to tap the ABC DAY logo in the middle to get started.) Tap the book icon for Read Along; the music note icon for Singing; the shell icon for Spelling; and the quill icon for Tracing.
Wait a sec… rewind! Did I say a quill icon? Yep. Never mind that most toddlers have no idea what a quill is and that it was used for writing about 200 years ago. (But a shell doesn’t necessarily conjure up “spelling” either.)
The Read Along and Singing activities are pretty straightforward. Read Along runs through the alphabet, letter by letter, with an animal example given for each letter, and a voiceover kindly reminding you (in American English) that “I is for impala”. Each animal has a simple animation and sound effect. The presentation auto-plays, but you can pop the floating bubble behind the letters to advance more quickly. You may also tap a small button labeled A-Z near the lower-left corner to jump to any letter.
To start the Singing activity, you must first pop a big bubble. Then, bubbles containing letters float up the screen as the song plays. If you pop a bubble (we know you want to!) the animal representing that letter will appear and sort of sink to the bottom of the screen. This is a bit disconcerting — they seem kind of… well… dead, and we’d rather they happily ran off to the left or right.
The Spelling activity is a fill-in-the-blank game. To get started, you’ll first have to “tickle the shell”. This action doesn’t bother kids, but adults may find it uncomfortable for reasons I won’t go into here. When the shell opens, an animal is inside, and their name is spelled out, minus one letter, which you get to fill in! There are some choices for letters floating in bubbles above. Your goal is to tap the correct letter to complete the animal’s name. When you do, you’ll be verbally rewarded with a variety of positive voiceovers. This activity could be improved if, on completion, the voiceover spelled the word out for you, e.g. “Y – A – K, Yak. Hooray!”
In the Tracing activity, a turtle helps kids trace letters by “catching stars”. The turtle points the right direction so that you know where to start and which way to go. This tracing activity is more sensitive than some of the others we’ve used; you really have to be precise to move on! Occasionally, this gets awkward, especially if you have overshot some starts by drawing too quickly. (The turtle will turn around to get them, which is not how you’d naturally write.) Also, the stroke order for drawing letters are not always what I’d consider “natural”. Both capital and lower-case letters are included, and, like in the Read Along activity, you may click a button in the lower right to choose any letter. When capital letters are successfully drawn, the voiceover reinforces the name of the letter; for lower-case letters, the voiceover repeats the phonetic sound.
You can navigate between activities via the home screen, which is accessible in the lower left of all screens by tapping the button with the star on it. You may also toggle between Tracing and Read Along using a button in the lower right. This is a nice touch, but creates an inconsistent user experience between activities.
This app has no options. The button marked “!” on the home screen brings up some credits and links (gotta love the one called “Share us your idea”). The graphics are fine but not particularly inspired, and there’s not a lot of attention given to the design of individual scenes. The music is ok, but it’s a little loud compared to the voiceovers.
Overall, ABC Day receives a lukewarm endorsement from the Picky Kids. If popping bubbles is your thing and you don’t already have an alphabet-related app for your iPhone, it’s worth considering. A relatively wide range of activities gives it some appeal for ages 2-4.
[The developer of this app requested a Picky Kid App Guide review.]Review: ABC Day iPhone App,
Played on: iPad 2, iOS5