Picky Kid Rating: 2.9
In You and Me: We’re Opposites, young kids can learn fourteen different pairs of opposite words by listening to an interactive book, watching a music video, and playing a simple game. The opposites are illustrated by brightly colored animals, and while this simple app has some weak points, it also has some charm. …and for better or for worse, the song is pretty catchy!
When you first open the app, you’ll come to a home screen where you’re greeted by a big elephant and a little lizard. Appropriate, right? Because big and little are opposites! From the the home screen, there are four different options for kids to play, and two areas for adults to explore, an i icon for info, and a more slide-out tab for more apps. Oopsies! None of the links in these areas are protected, so your toddler can easily tap to a web site or the app store. Luckily, these icons are less compelling than the four options that are intended for kids.
There are two book-reading options, Auto Play or Read to Me. Both narrate the scenes (unless audio is turned off… more about that below), but in Auto Play, the pages advance automatically, while in Read to Me, you control them by tapping blue arrows on the bottom left or right of the screen. Each scene has a few interactive elements, mostly resulting in simple animations or repeated voiceovers. During reading, you can pause the scene by tapping the “bookmark” in the upper left. This will display a menu where you can return to the home screen, pick a page, go to the music video, play an activity, and toggle narration and/or background music. The narration toggle doesn’t work well in Auto Play mode — we could only get narration to turn off for one page; when the next scene appeared, the narration was back.
The story (if you can call it that, there’s no real plot…) is pretty cute, as animals at a zoo compare themselves to one another. Lots of things are compared, including color, size, mood, speed, and how much stuff they have. We feel sort of bad for the monkey who has no bananas that scene. At the end of the book [spoiler alert] all the animals fall asleep and the zookeeper says “I’m awake, they’re asleep!” When it’s all over, you can choose to read again, hear the song, or do the activity.
The song is essentially a music video, and it plays in the default iOS video player, which feels like a bit of a disconnect from the rest of the app, but once the controls fade back, it’s pretty enjoyable. The song is a bit over a minute long, and retells the book with music and animation. Karaoke-style subtitles are a nice touch to help kids make the connection between reading and hearing words. …and the catchy tune will likely get stuck in your head.
In the activity, the idea is to pair up animals with opposite characteristics. In each scene, one animal will be in an enclosure, while three others are outside. The enclosed animal will state something like “I’m big” or “I’m slow” and your job is to drag the animal with the opposite characteristic into the enclosure. You can tap each animal to hear how they describe themselves to be sure you have it right, a good thing because just because something is dirty doesn’t mean it can’t also be dry! Putting the wrong animal into the enclosure will prompt an “Uh-Oh” — get it right and and you’ll get a cheer and the two animals in the enclosure will repeat their comparisons, e.g. “I’m clean”, “I’m dirty”. There are a few awkward moments with the voiceovers… if you tap and drag an animal into the enclosure, the voiceover will be cut off by the next sound effect.
There are only four scenes in the activity, and they are always in the same order, making it feel repetitive and limiting. If you don’t like a certain scene, you may advance to the next one by tapping the blue arrow in the lower left. However this arrow doesn’t work after you’ve made a correct pairing… In that case, you just need to wait for the scene to auto-advance.
Speaking of auto-advance, it’s a bit slow… Actually, most transitions seem a bit slow. In some cases, the delay is just long enough to wonder if you need to tap again. Another hiccup in user experience is this app’s dependency on lots of written prompts. For example, when you start the activity, there’s an informational screen showing you what to do. It’s really not necessary each time. Also, when you select one of the reading modes, you’ll usually have to choose whether to “Restart” or “Resume” the story (unnecessary since it’s so short and there is a way to access all pages anyway), And when the story or activity ends you’re given various written options. It would be more logical to simply return to the home screen, which has the same options and is what happens at the end of the music video anyway.
We like the illustration style in this app. It’s a flat, graphic style with a nicely consistent color palette. We also like the talking-bubbles and the type in them. Unfortunately, the animations are not as well-done. They’re choppy and the timing isn’t very refined. The music and voiceovers (in American English only) are generally good and not too annoying. And, we admit it, we really like the song!
Overall, You and Me: We’re Opposites is a decent, yet limited game that teaches comparison concepts. Expect to help younger or less experienced tablet users navigate this one until they get the hang of it.
[The developer of this app requested a Picky Kid review. No fees were paid.]Review: You and Me: We're Opposites iPad App,
You and Me: We're Opposites
Played on: iPad 2, iOS6