Bottom line: A well-designed kid-friendly 'camera for kids'. It's free to download and try but be wary of the blatantly-placed teasers of in-app purchases to buy different 'camera' designs.
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Kidomatic from JAJDO AB is a customize your photo-type app designed for kids and teens. Having made other successful sticker apps such as Buildo Museum, Rescue and History, it's perhaps not very surprising that the next step would be to sticker-decorate photos as well.
Kidomatic opens onto a bookcase with 6 icons - Kidomatic, monster, police, princess, Christmas and 'more apps'. Five of these icons are other 'cameras' but only the Kidomatic one is available for free. My first bugbear therefore happened before my small girl tester even got into the playspace - she (being a ridiculously girly girl) instantly pressed 'princess', discovered it was an in-app purchase and I was faced with 'buy it pleeeeeeeease mummy'. This sort of thing annoys me no end and tends to make apps disappear from off my device. Even a lock pictured over the icons that aren't included in the initial download cost would be a better choice as kids are used to seeing this. The 'more apps' icon will take the player directly out of the app and into the app store - another thing that bugs me, especially in an app that's aimed at children both big AND small.
Anyway, after this inauspicious start and a few false leads, we finally made it into the 'Kidomatic' camera to be greeted with bright, bold, beautifully rendered puffy cartoon graphics that catch the eye and definitely grab the child's attention. You start with a camera interface to take your picture with kid-friendly buttons that allow flash, front or back camera, zoom and of course, the actual shutter button (which features a little face that cheekily pokes its tongue out at you as it waits). These are intuitive to use and with a basic explanation from a nearby adult, even the littlest of kiddiewinks will be able to take a photo.
Once a picture is taken, the decoration area opens up, and with basic initial adult instruction, there will be much whimsical creating taking place. The player can choose various frames to put around the picture, letters of the alphabet (which are vocalised when placed - very handy for incidental learning), a range of cute kawaii/Hello Kitty-style stickers to create silly faces and decorations, and spray cans that splatter a range of different patterns (hearts, stars, skulls, spots or butterflies) across the photo. There are some limitations here - you can't spray paint over a sticker - but you can put a sticker over another one. The stickers can also be rotated and resized with a simple finger action. There are no tutorials on this so it's something that your child will probably discover only if they've had previous experience in doing it.
Once you've finished your photo, press the tick button and the picture goes into the app's photo album. I like this. I'm sick and tired of having to clear the 60 bazillion photos that my child randomly creates in apps from the iPad's camera roll. From the app's photo album, all previously saved creations can be accessed and edited, trashed or exported to the camera roll. I'm okay with this export option here as it means that the picture can be emailed to doting grandparents or friends, but not from within the app. If I had a dollar for every time my small daughter has emailed her pictures to unsuspecting people in my Contacts list - well, I could go on a small weekend away, I think. The actual device's photo album can be accessed from within the app's photo album so that pictures from here can be decorated too.
All in all, Kidomatic does everything that it advertises - it's a kid-friendly camera with a kid- friendly interface that kids will be able to use with ease. It's cute and friendly to look at and will cause much hilarity from your children as they put the obligatory moustache under your red clown nose. It does, however, have several things that could do with some tweaking so as not to send the kids' parents bonkers:
- In the camera and saved photo sections, up in the left hand corner, a different camera icon hovers enticingly so the player can switch cameras to one of the paid ones. This means that your child will be taken back to the home menu again if he/she presses it (insert repeat of ‘buy it pleeeeease mummy here). It would be helpful if only the cameras that had been unlocked and are currently available were shown here in this option.
- I appreciated the bright and perky verbal encouragement from the cute cartoon camera. What I didn’t appreciate was the volume of this encouragement. I couldn’t turn it down with the volume controls and I ended up turning it off entirely via the sound switch on the device as it was simply too loud and obnoxious.
- There is no tutorial available - although the interface is easy, it does require initial instruction, especially for younger children who will be less familiar with these standard icons. I realise that the image-based interface makes this app accessible no matter what language you speak, but maybe the
developers could think then about a pictorial tutorial?
- The final image is actually bigger than what is seen on the screen capture page. This is frustrating - what you see is not what you get.
- The eraser (which erases the spray can splatter only) has quite a small surface area and it’s a painful process if you need to erase a large area. Having a variable-sized eraser would be really helpful and would cater for both fine detail and big erasing jobs.
Although the developers specify that this app is aimed at young children to teens, the sheer Hello Kitty cuteness of the stickers and design will probably appeal more to the younger end of this estimation, definitely up to the tween ages anyway. The only external links are the ones to the other apps by this developer (on the homepage) - there are no Facebook, Twitter or email links.
They say that first impressions count and in this case my enjoyment of the app was really tainted by the painfulness of the homepage. As the actual play space of Kidomatic is really very well designed to be easily usable, I'd love to see the homepage overhauled and given the same kid-friendly treatment as the rest of the app.
Recommended (as long as you ignore the homepage).
Eleanor Holland looks quite dashing with a red clown nose and a black moustache. She thinks the bow on her eyebrow and the spaceship in her hair are a bit much though.smartappsforkids.com was paid a priority-review fee to complete this review in an expedited manner.