Picky Kid Rating: 3.9
There are plenty of alphabet apps for toddlers available on the market, and Interactive ABC is one of the better of them. This app offers some unique features that others don’t — like multiplayer ability — but it’s not perfect (we are picky kids, after all), so the best app for your family will be a matter of weighing pros and cons, and of personal preference, of course.
Here’s what we like about this app:
- There are multiple objects shown for each letter, helping reinforce the idea that letters represent sounds, not objects
- If a letter appears in a word more than once, it is highlighted twice
- The examples given for the letter X are phonetically correct
- Fun animations and well-executed graphics
One of the game’s challenges, however, is evident as soon as you start the app. After a brief developer logo screen, the start screen appears. This screen includes a fairly obvious start button, a light switch labeled “Parents, slide it”, a promo for the developer’s next game, and something pinned to the “wall” that appears to be a photo. This last object had me confused for a while. It turns out that this is how you switch players. It makes more sense when you have multiple players because there is more than one photo, and you tap which one you want to “be”… But the start screen would be improved if it only showed photos when multiple players are set up. Also, it seems as if the game should start as soon as a player is selected, but we must still tap the start button.
Setting players up is one of the tasks that can be done in the “Parents” area… You may also rate and review the app, change settings (music and sound can be independently toggled on or off, and you may pick male or female voices or both), read a description of the app, and see “Progress”. The Progress screen shows a chart of how many times the player has tapped each letter. Calling it “Progress” seems a little odd, since there is really nothing to evaluate — something like “chart” would be a lot more appropriate. My chart shows me that B hasn’t tapped the letter U much. Maybe she just doesn’t find the object associated with U (an umbrella) all that enticing.
When the game has started, players can pick a letter from a set of “cards”. Each card shows the letter in upper- and lower-case and a representative object. Tapping on a card takes the player to an animated scene featuring that letter — and eventually the object pictured on the card as well. But this might not happen right away. For example, the card for O shows an ostrich, but when we tap, the scene we arrive at features an octopus first. Some kids may be frustrated by this.
But having multiple objects represent each letter is also one of the things that makes this app interesting and unique. Each letter scene features at least two objects — the O scene includes an octopus, an ostrich and an otter. The representative objects are indicated by a pulsing white outline, and when they are clicked, a voiceover says the sound of the letter and the object’s name, plus there’s a fun animation. The X scene does the phonics right, using a fox, an axe, and a mailbox to represent the correct X sound.
Wait a minute… did I say an axe? Eek, that’s right! There are several objects in this game that you’d normally instruct your toddler not to touch, like an axe, fast whirling fans, and a needle (at least it’s of the sewing, not hypodermic, sort). That’s one of the reasons we don’t recommend this app for 2-year-olds. Another reason is that some of the choices for representing letter sounds are a bit abstract. For example, a grasshopper is shown for the letter I, because it is an Insect. But a lot of younger children aren’t yet making these kind of classifications (and are more likely to call it a “bug” anyway).
Overall, the app is easy to use once you get it started. From the letter scenes, there are forward and back buttons that take you to the previous or next letter, and a home button to go back to the cards. You can also replay the scene. A subtle “pull” menu in the lower right reveals the same settings options available in the Parents area. It’s nice that you don’t need to go all the way back to the Parents area to make quickly turn the music off. Though the music isn’t half bad!
As we mentioned above, there is more than one good alphabet app, and we can’t help comparing Interactive ABC to Interactive Alphabet (confusing, huh?) which we reviewed in March. Both apps are good. Younger players will likely enjoy Interactive Alphabet more because it is simpler and has a dancing robot. Older players may get more out of Interactive ABC’s use of multiple objects per letter.
Interactive ABC is a solid choice for an alphabet-learning app, especially if you have multiple players you want to track. There is a free version of the app that you may preview to see if the full app is worth it for you.
Review: Interactive ABC iPad App,
Played on: iPad 2, iOS4
- Kid’s Academy