Bottom Line: This rhyming story is simple with few bells and whistles for toddlers and parents that want to experience a simpler technology experience, but the price might be a bit more than some parents are willing to spend on an app with so few features.
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This is the story of Duck, Dog and Bear traveling in Africa where they meet new animals such as a monkey, elephant and giraffe. The story is 16 pages of single sentences written in rhyme and targeted to children two to four years old. The app is narrated on each page when a button is pushed and illustrations are manipulated by hitting the "tap" button. The app has music, but minimally. Pages can be moved forward or backward by tapping the page arrows, swiping left or right or by choosing from the page selection.
There are two ways to approach this app. The first is to view it as more of an iBook since that medium usually offers fewer features and relies more on the story as a selling point. The second is to look at this app as compared to what is possible with similar books in the app store. As a typical children's iBook, this app is priced at the high end of bestselling authors and classics which sell between $1.99 and $4.99. This app offers many of the same things as one would expect from an iBook with simple layout and more attention to the story than interactivity. When looking at this app compared to other children's books in the app store and what is possible to elicit conversation and learning as well as child interest, the developer needs to make some decisions about how to improve as I'll discuss below.
In a book in the app store, typically narration is professional and there are settings to turn on or off the narration including whether or not a user wants narration to begin automatically when a page is turned. Page turning is also an option that can be turned to auto or manual. This apps narration is done well, but there is white noise throughout hinting that this was a home job. Interactivity is a big deal in children's apps. Even at a young age, toddlers expect to have something happen when they touch something of interest. This app gives children a very narrow margin of interaction. Touching the "tap" button produces movement in the illustration, but also cuts off narration so they cannot be activated at the same time. Tapping on words or items on a page have no feedback for users.
This app has very nice and colorful illustrations and while the story is easy to follow, it's not terribly gripping for this age group. I gifted the app to a friend in this age group and she said that her son enjoyed making the plane and train appear, but was not concerned about the story and had to be bribed with a snack to stay involved.
While the app has no technical issues, I would like to see some more bulk with interactivity in future updates even if all that is included are some questions about the story to bring about conversation at the end or dispersed through the story.