Bottom line: a fun, uncomplicated app that resembles the love child of a modern-day Etch-a-Sketch and mood ring. Changeable settings allow freehand art as well as preset drawings, all of which will please your little Van Gogh.
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Heat Sense, an app by Graham Dennis, probably has fewer frills that any app I've yet dealt with in my brief time at SAFK. There's no introductory page flashing the developer's logo. There's no link to Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest. There's just a glowing smiley face with two tiny icons in the bottom corners of the screen. That's it. From there, your Picasso Jr. just touches the screen and starts drawing.
There's no interface to speak of – just a Windows-like dialog box that allows the user to change the color of the screen, the color of the line made by his finger, and a variety of other options. Want your drawing to stay on the screen longer? Change the decay rate, from a low of "tortoise" to a high of "hare." Want your nice warm digit to make a more distinct mark on the screen? Change the "heat" of your finger. Want a finer line or a thicker one? You can change that, too.
I am not much of an artist, with or without an app to help me out. So I was particularly entranced by the preset drawings, which allowed me to touch the screen once and -- POOF! -- create a gorgeous representation of a bird, or a beer mug, or a rocket ship, or a vampire, or any number of other things. The only hitch is that I had to be pretty fast – once I touched the preset drawing I wanted, I still had to hit "done" in the dialog box before my drawing faded from the screen. If the developer is open to suggestions, I'd recommend that he make the dialog box disappear as soon as the preset is chosen so the artist can appreciate every second of his drawing.
My daughter loved the stamps, which are exactly what they sound like: instead of her finger making a line on the screen, it made a stamp of her chosen shape wherever she touched. She stamped butterflies, grapes, bugs, crowns, hearts and flowers before announcing that she could NEVER hope to get through every stamp offered by the app. When a kid feels it will take her weeks to exhaust an app's capabilities, I take that as a mark of a good app.
In addition to "stamp," there are five other "finger effects" to mess around with: doppelganger, yin and yang, mirror horizontally and vertically, and kaleidoscope. All add something to just the simple line made by your finger and enhance the fun of the artwork. These effects have a new age feel that would actually benefit from a relaxing soundtrack as an option.
The app also allows the artist to take photos of her work for later display, which my daughter found very cool. Since the drawings themselves don't last long on the screen, she liked the idea of being able to show her work to Grandma later via the magic of the iPad photo function.
This app isn't fancy, and doesn't pretend to be. It does one thing, and does it well, and keeps my child entertained in the process. In a world where many developers are working to see how many distractions they can incorporate into a single app, there's something to be said for that.
Emilie Davis is a writer, mom and budding artist. The drawings created by this app and her hot little fingers ROCKED. smartappsforkids.com was paid a priority-review fee to complete this review in an expedited manner.