Monday, October 7, 2013

ABC Wildlife - Stands Out From The Pack of Animal Apps


There is just something about all the programs that use animals to teach letters to the kids. Personally, I have used countless alphabet books, apps, and flashcards centered around animals with my children. ABC Wildlife by Peapod Labs LLC stands out from the pack. This app is more than just animal flashcards. It offers a variety of beautiful pictures of wildlife for each letter of the alphabet as well as corresponding videos, interactive content and fun facts.


If you would like to purchase ABC Wildlife ($2.99, iPad/iPhone) please support Smart Apps for Special Needs by using this link:


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The videos are links to YouTube.  Internet connection is needed to view these videos.  The videos play within the app though
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Did you know that the agouti is the only animal that can crack open the hard outer shell of a Brazil nut?  My son just taught me this fun little fact. Of course, after he proudly told me this, I had to ask what an agouti is. He started the ABC Wildlife app and showed me three different pictures of this little guinea pig-like rodent along with a cute little video.

ABC Wildlife is more than just an alphabetical list of cute animal pictures. Each animal has the spelling displayed at the bottom of the full screen picture as well as an audio pronunciation of the name.  I would have no idea how to pronounce a few of the more unusual animals without the audio.  The main two being quokka and agouti.

Every page includes either a video or interaction, as well as a fun fact and the full spelling of the animal. There are many ways for a child to navigate through the animals. Like a book, the user can swipe across the screen to discover the next page or go back to the previous. He/she can also click on the "abc" icon at the top right to go to the index. From the index, it is easy to see which pictures have a video or interactive element depending on the corresponding icon in the top right corner.

To add some fun, a user can also select any of the letters in the animals name to view all animals that start with that letter. For instance, if he/she is looking at the rhino and taps the "o" in the name at the bottom then all the animals that begin with "o" appear  to choose from.

Something to note is that the videos on this app are links to YouTube. This means that the device must have an internet connection in order to view any video.  On the plus side, this means that the app doesn't take up huge amounts of memory on the device with a large library of videos.  A negative aspect is the video links may be removed from YouTube and thus not work. When this happens, the app displays a black screen where the video would normally play. Some children, as well as adults, may find this frustrating. Peapod does report that they try to replace any missing videos regularly.

When I discovered the videos were from YouTube, I was a little hesitant. I was happy to see that the clip plays within the app instead of exiting the app and opening the YouTube website.  Plus, Peapod labs ensures that all videos are screened by parents. When the clip ends, the child can either re-watch the video or close it, he is not prompted to play other YouTube videos which have not been approved.  However, if you have a very perceptive child, there are small YouTube buttons that appear at the end of the video where the user can browse through non-screened videos. If you are still hesitant to allow your child to watch the videos, parental controls allow adults to disable all videos.

If the device does not have an internet connection or if parental controls disable videos, the video icons located on the screen are removed. This saves the frustration of a child being out somewhere without internet and continually asking why none of the videos work when they click on it.  However, if your child loves to watch the gorilla video he may be upset that the button is gone until the internet connection is back.

Besides being able to disable videos, the parental controls also allow limiting the volume of the app. Having children that love to crank up the volume, I appreciate any app which helps limit volume.

I was blown over with the content. The diversity of the animals is top notch. There are insects, pets, birds, sea creatures, rodents and more. Each animal has at least 3 different stunning pictures associated with it.

Overall, my kids and I love this app.  There is a ton of information, as well as very easy controls for children to interact. Plus the pictures are gorgeous. ABC Wildlife is well thought out, informative and easy to navigate. Of all the animal alphabet apps available, this is by far at the top of my list.

From iTunes:
Expose your child to the wild world of Animals! Our award-winning Little Explorers ABC Series teaches children new words through sight, sound & touch. Let them explore a world of monkeys, tigers, elephants & more through beautiful pictures, lively videos, and interactive scenes.

WHY YOU WILL LOVE IT
- Exposure To Animals — Tons of pictures, sounds, videos & interactive games
- Extends Vocabulary — 80+ animal words
- Links Letters To Words — navigate through the words by tapping letters
- Made Just For Them — simple interface so they’ll never get stuck
- Fun For You — check out the chameleon video
- Carefully Curated Content — every video has been screened by parents

WHY YOUR CHILD WILL PLAY IT
- Fun Animal Exploration — everything from aardvark to zebra
- Interactive Scenes — 80+ touch activities with animals
- Fun Videos — 100+ videos that let them see and hear animals

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Rachel H has two inquisitive kids that love learning about animals. They love finding apps where they can try to stump her with random trivia.

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