Bottom line: If your older child is a die-hard spot the difference fan, this app is on sale for 99 cents for the rest of the week (normally $2.99) and might be worth look at that price.
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iSpot Pro, by LeicesterAppDesigner, is a Spot the Difference game billed as a way for children and adults alike to train their visual memory. At the home page level there is a button for instructions, one to email support, another to reset your results and a clock which, when tapped, enables you to set the game mode - find the differences at your own pace or against the clock. The timed modes have both an easy and a hard setting.
There are five pictures from which to choose. Select one and your child will see that there are three levels to play, with 5 games in each level. In the first level, there are two differences to find in the picture, three differences in level 2 and four differences in level 3. Completion of each game unlocks the next one and also earns the player another 'hint'. If your child is stuck and having problems finding a difference, provided they have earned sufficient hints, they can tap on a button and a white ring will show the area in which a difference can be found. When your child finds a difference, tapping on the screen results in a small white ring marking its location.
The five pictures are two family scenes, a classroom picture, a vacation scene and 'out and about' which depicts a helicopter, monorail and cars in a cityscape. The pictures are good quality and, as you would expect in a game like this, very detailed. I have to confess, I've never been especially engaged by Spot the Difference games but I played 35 of them in order to test this app thoroughly. If your older child really likes this activity then this app may be a good fit, but in my view there's simply not enough here to engage younger kids.
For $2.99 I would expect more from an app than to say "it works ok". Once you've completed all the games for each picture you will have looked at the exact same thing 15 times. There must be more constructive ways to train visual memory. Even someone who likes Spot the Difference would start to find these games a little boring after a while. Younger children would likely prefer to relinquish the iPad rather than play this game in its current incarnation. Some suggestions to make the exercises more engaging for children would be:
• More pictures with fewer levels for each picture
• Pictures of things that children find interesting - animals, toys, fun food, transportation vehicles
• Congratulatory sound effects for correct selections (There is no sound at all in the app.)
• Options for background music to help support concentration
• Interactivity and animation when all the levels for each picture are completed
• A reward system for completion of levels - stars, stickers, etc.
• Supports to help improve performance - a grid overlay for example.
• All of these items could be provided as options in a settings menu if not needed or wanted (for older children and adults for example).
If you or your children love this activity then the app is worth a look while its price is discounted. Otherwise I can't recommend the app as it currently stands, particularly because the developer's claim that this app can be used to train visual memory does not appear to have any scientific basis.
This review was written by Deanne Shoyer who, in her forties, finds herself in dire need of memory supports. smartappsforkids.com was paid a priority-review fee to complete this review in an expedited manner.