nester by Mindquake

nester by Mindquake is an Android kids’ launcher. I remember a few year ago, when I was looking for a kids’ launcher, it seemed that I had very few choices. I downloaded a few and most didn’t work. Oh how things have changed in a few year. The Play store is littered with kids’ launchers. I am actually surprised that this is the first kid’s launcher that has been reviewed on this site.

Although we have not reviewed any other kids’ launcher, I really liked this one. I am not sure what others have and do not have, but nester seems to do the basics very well. It also includes very useful extras. For example not only can you set a timer (for how long the child can use the device), but you can also have a period of cool down. Great for children that have a problem with transitions.

As far as what you would expect of a kids’ launcher, it is all here. You are able to select the apps that are available through the launcher and as mentioned above set a time limit on device play. The parent lock is also sufficiently enough to keep most children from accidentally disabaling the launcher.

My only gripe is that for whatever reason a few options and features are not available unless you are logged into google or Facebook. Other than that it is a beautiful launcher with all the features you would expect and some that are unique and very useful.

 

The app doesn’t have any in app store or ads. Available on Google Play for free.

MarcoPolo Weather by MarcoPolo Learning

MarcoPolo Weather is the second app by the wonderful developers at MarcoPolo Learning that we have reviewed at Smart Kids’ Apps. As with the first app MarcoPolo Ocean, it is extremely beautiful and filled with discoverable content.

I loved the illustrations, they are quirky and interesting. I also loved the ability to experience the app using a few different characters (although one in particular was my favorite). Like their earlier effort there is a lot more to the app. Almost everything is touchable and can be interacted with.

Unlike the first app, this app is free. The app does have an in-app store that sells expansion packs. The store is protected with a birth year challenge which should keep most children from getting things accidentally.

Overall a great app. Highly recommended. And since it is free, you have very little to lose. My only small gripe is the in-app store, but unfortunately it is currently the only way to generate meaningful revenue.

Available only in the Apple App store, I tested it on my iPhone. No ads.

Pet Doctor by Toca Boca

As the name implies Pet Doctor by Toca Boca is an app where you take care of animals. As usual a beautiful app by the people at Toca Boca. The illustrations, music, sound effects and animations are beautiful and extremely well executed.

As usual the game play is opened ended. Children can pick any of the many animals in the main screen that need help. Each animal needs Once the animals are helped they get ready for sleep.

Overall a great app. available in the Apple App Store, Google Play and Amazon Store for anywhere from .99 to $2.99. I tested the IOS version on my iPhone.

No in app store. No ads.

Duh! Brazil by duhbooks

I always find it amazing the quality of e-books available at very affordable prices. Duh! Brazil by duhbooks is no exception. Pages filled with great information about Brazil. About its geography, people, fauna, history, and so much more. I loved the illustrations, the photos, and the interactive elements.

As far as dislike. In our house we frown on the use of the word “crazy”. Unfortunately this book uses it in the first page to discuss the enthusiasm of soccer fans. So many other words could have been used to convey this, it is unfortunate that “crazy” was used (but does offer a teaching moment).

The book is only available in the Apple store. I challenge you to find a book in your local or chain bookstore with this much content and information for $3.99, much less at the current price of free.

Sago Mini Forest Flyer by Sago Sago

Sago Mini Forest Flyer by Sago Sago is a completely opened ended exploring game for the iOS devices.

My 6 year loves it. She takes controls the little bird and flies around discovering new places for the bird to play with. The places that have interaction are clearly marked as you fly by them.

The illustration, sound, music and animations are all engaging, beautiful and very well done. A beautiful app that everybody should consider downloading.

I played it on my iPhone. The app is only available in the Apple App store. I received a free copy from the publisher. The app does not have any advertisements or in-store store. It works offline.

MFF: Dorothy the Rainbow Fairy by Integrated

Dorothy the Rainbow Fairy by Integrated is a great science storybook.

Like most good digital storybooks, you can read the story yourself or let the book read it for you. It also has the typical interactive touch elements on all pages.

But it also has items I have not seen in other story books. Some of those interactive elements are modeled after pop-up or slider books. In most pages you can slide a virtual tab, or spin a virtual wheel.

The book is about fairies and rainbows. And if the book is correct, I might have learned a few things I didn’t know about the origins of rainbows. Overall a high quality and beautiful digital book.

Available in the Android App for Kindle, Google Play and the Apple App store. I received a free iOS version from the publisher. It works offline, and I didn’t see any in-app store.

Mega LopArt by LopLop inc.

Mega LopArt by LopLap is a drawing tool where all the objects you draw can be animated. For example you can change the object by shrinking and growing, spinning, squeezing and expanding and/or fading and unfading.

The app has the usual tools that you expect from a drawing tool. An easy to use color palate, a tool selection bar, ability to share your creations.

Overall not a bad app, but I do have one gripe. I wish the app had some non-abstract drawing tools. They do have another app that does (LopArt Life) and that for the targeted age group (6+) this would not be a problem. The app should spur hours and hours of creativity. I actually bought an extra copy (the copy for the review was provided for free) for my personal iPad. I would also want to mention that on the iPad 2 that I used for testing, the app did crash a couple of times during testing. Hopefully that could be ironed out in the next version.

The app is available in the Apple App Store. I reviewed it on a iPad. No Android version exits.

eMotion Stories by GO UFO Ltd

eMotion Stories by GO UFO Ltd is a collection of interactive stories for deaf and hard of hearing children. The app and the first story are free. The app features an in-app store to buy other stories.

The stories are beautiful illustrated. As with most interactive books, the words are highlighted as they are read. Unlike all the story books that we have reviewed, in the lower left hand corner the words are signed by a real human ASL narrator. Some words in the story are under-lined. Clicking on these words makes the narrator show you how to sign those particular words. Like many brilliant concepts that look easy and obvious, I wonder why I didn’t come up with this idea first. You can even switch the words of the story to ASL gloss. The app also has a word dictionary where you can select words to be signed.

Overall a great concept and a great app. I believe 3 stories are currently available. And I hope that the app gets the recognition and sales it needs to continue to keep adding stories to the app shelves.

I reviewed the app and the free book on my iPad as prompted by the publisher. It is available in the Apple App Store. I couldn’t find an Android version.

Skeleton Dance by Busy Brain Media

Skeleton Dance by Busy Brain Media is a science app. The app has beautiful clay-animation, introduces children to anatomy, a puzzle game (placing the bones on the empty skeleton shape), and an activity where you can get more information about each bone.

So now lets go on a related tangent: at Smart Kids’ Apps the difference between an app 4.0, 4.5 or 5 is mostly subjective. Yes we have written rules where an app will get automatic deductions based on what use to be common annoyances, but most apps we review don’t have those problems. When we started Smart Kids’ Apps we hardly got any review requests, so we use to review most of what we got. Currently we have over 200+ apps waiting to be reviewed. We get dozens review request a day, and we only review the ones we consider the best. So if you get reviewed on these pages then you are a fairly good app, and in good company.

I didn’t find anything wrong with Skeleton Dance. It is a great app to supplement a learning unit on bones. The illustrations, animations and the activities are all great. The problem is that I compared it with one of most magical apps this reviewer has ever come across. When the e-mail to review this app came in from the same publisher, I expected magic (Lady Bug Number Count). What I got instead was a solid app.

I reviewed it on my iPad. No Android version exits. No ads, works offline and it is a great addition to an education unit about bones.

Shiny Circus by Shiny Things

Shiny Circus by Shiny Things is an educational math app geared to children 2 to 5 years of age. It consists of a story about the circus and a set of math concept activities. The story part of the app is typical of a good interactive story book. The words of the story are highlighted as it is read and each page has interactive elements.

Although the story part of the app is extremely well executed, the math concept activities are extremely impressive. My daughter of 5 year old (apparently the top of the range) had a great time dressing the clowns, balancing the weights, and arranging the stairs. The only activity she didn’t like was the Angry Bird style game: she found the voice coaching too repetitive. What is really impressive is that she had no idea that she was learning new math concepts. Some of the concepts and activities are too advance for the lower age children, be ready to help them.

Overall the music, illustrations, the narrating voice (human) and the animations are all very well done. One of the best apps reviewed this year, and easily worth the price. If we had a sixth star, this app would get it.

I received the app for free from the publisher, and reviewed it on my iPad. The app is available in the Apple App Store, and I couldn’t find an Android version.