Sunday, July 13, 2014

Looking for a good articulation app? Start with our comparison of three top apps!

Apple orangeIf you do a search for articulation apps in the iTunes store, you may be a little overwhelmed by the sheer number of apps that appear. Where do you start? Do you really need an articulation app? Is it really worth all that money? Which one do I get?! These were all the questions I asked myself when I got my first articulation app. I spent hours looking through the different apps at the time. I tried the free versions, looked at descriptions, and read all the reviews I could find. In the end, I finally just picked randomly and hoped that it worked out okay. The one thing I hated in my search was the fact that no one compared the different apps, or the same person did not review both apps. This has led me to a comparison review of three articulation apps: Articulation Station Pro, Articulate it! Pro, and ArtikPix — Full. These seemed to be the three most popular ones in my very scientific social media poll (Okay, it wasn’t scientific at all, but it did include other speech therapists!). That doesn’t mean other apps aren’t as good, but at the time of writing this, these were the top ones I had heard about.

Before I begin these comparisons, I thought it might be helpful to learn some about me, so you can understand where I am coming from. I have been a speech language therapist in a rural school district since August 2008. This was my first job after graduating with my master’s degree in Communicative Disorders. I work with approximately 45 kids ranging from ages 7 to 21. While looking at apps, I try to think of what will work best for that age group; however, I tried to keep the younger kids in mind while comparing these three apps. By far, my articulation apps are the most used apps on my iPad. I use them several times a day, and not just for articulation, but also for language (vocabulary, sentence building/grammar, reading practice, comprehension, and fluency are the other areas I usually address with these apps). Now, how about we get to the point of this list!The three apps I compared here are Articulation Station Pro by Busy Bee Speech, Articulate It! Pro by Smarty Ears, and ArtikPix by Expressive Solutions LLC. Here's a little information about each one to get us started:

AspArticulation Station Pro ($49.99, iPhone/iPad): No ads, no in-app purchase with the Pro version, links to website under unlocked info section

Articulation Station Pro from Busy Bee Speech is designed well for all age groups. It contains 22 different sounds that can be worked on in all positions of the word, sentence, and story levels. In addition, you can also play a matching game. There are so many fantastic things about this app, I will try just to highlight a few. First, this app is simple to use. I was able to start using it from the moment I first opened it. However, there are instructional videos available as well if needed. The only time I felt I needed to watch a video was to understand how to do group sessions. Once I watched it, setting up groups was a breeze. Articulation Station Pro also features two levels of sentence work. You have rotating sentences or unique sentences. Rotating sentences keeps the whole sentence the same, except for the target word. This is amazing for my students who have reading difficulties! Unique sentences is just what it says, each target word has a brand new sentence. Finally, the story level is also something that is special about this app. Again, there are two different levels. Level 1 is a shorter story, with picture cues, while level two is slightly longer. Both levels are jammed packed with target sounds, but the best part is the comprehension questions at the end. I feel like this makes the app so versatile! I use it not only for my articulation students, but I use the stories to work on listening comprehension and speech fluency too!

AipArticulate it! Pro ($39.99, iPhone/iPad): No ads, no in-app purchases, link to Facebook in the unlocked support section

Articulate it! Pro from Smarty Ears is an all-encompassing articulation app. It is designed for all age groups, but I found it worked best for my older students (8 years and up). It contains 23 different sounds to be worked on in all positions of the word, phrase, or sentence levels. You can also play a matching game. There are some great things about this app, too! Articulate it! Pro does not look at just the phonemes (sounds), but you can also work on phonological processes, manner of articulation, or select a certain number of syllables. Another difference that sets this app apart is the homework. You can print off homework to send home with the student to address your target sounds. The homework can be printed off for the initial, medial, or final position of the word, phrase, or sentence levels. Finally, this app just recently released an update that includes themes to the activity. For example, in November you may want to change your theme to Thanksgiving. The background of the app will change, and include a turkey gobble for incorrect or correct productions. For me personally, this app was a little more complicated to understand. However, the video tutorials were a huge help, and I definitely recommend watching them!

ApfArtikPix Full ($29.99 iPhone, iPad): No ads, no in-app purchases in the full version, link to more apps on the home screen

ArtikPix from Expressive Solutions, LLC is a basic articulation app. It can be used for all age groups, but I think would work best for kids younger than 8. This app contains 21 different phonemes that can be worked on at the initial, medial, or final position for most sounds (I have noticed that /r/ is not separated out into these three positions). You can choose to start with flashcards or a matching game. The flashcards make it easy to switch between word and sentence levels, as you only need to press flip and it will toggle between the word and sentence.  The pictures are easily identifiable, making ArtikPix Full a great app to use for vocabulary development as well. One thing that sets ArtikPix apart from other articulation apps is that data can be sent to a spreadsheet. This makes it easy to create a chart to monitor progress over time.

Here's a side-by-side comparison of features to help you decide:

Articulation App Comparisons

Articulation Station Pro
Articulate it! Pro
$49.99 iPhone/iPad $39.99 iPhone/iPad $29.99 iPhone/iPad
Busy Bee Speech Smarty Ears Expressive Solutions, LLC.
  App store button   App store button   App store button
Trial Version
Yes No Yes
All ages All ages, but vocabulary and pictures may be slightly more appropriate for some older kids. All ages, but seems more appropriate for kids younger than 8.
Initial set up time/ Details needed
You select a student after practicing the sounds, unless you are doing a group session. The only detail you really need is the client’s name, but you can also include a photo, gender, email, birthday, and any other notes. Initial set up time for each student, approximately 30 seconds. You select students before you begin practice. A name and a picture, if desired, is all that is needed. You can also import players from another smarty ears app (Therapy Report Center) if available. Initial set up time, approximately one minute or so. You select students after practicing the sounds. A name is all that is needed, but you can also add a picture if desired.  Initial set up time is approximately 30 seconds.
Contains 22 different sounds, addresses each sound in the beginning, middle, and end, also /r/, /s/, and /l/ blends. There are over 1,200 images included.
You can only work on any sound in any position during a time, but only using flashcards (cannot do sentences or stories).
Contains 23 different sounds, addresses each sound in the beginning, middle, and end, plus /r/, /s/, and /l/ blends. Includes over 1,000 images.
You can work on any sound in any position, including the word, phrase, and sentence level.
Contains 21 different sounds, plus /r/, /s/, and /l/ blends. Beginning, middle, and end sounds are included with most words, but not all.
You can work on any sound at the word or sentence level at once.
Number of Activities
6 activities for each sound: word, matching, rotating sentences, unique sentences, level 1 stories with comprehension questions, and level 2 stories with comprehension questions This is a tricky question! Initially you can choose from flashcards or matching. In each, you can then pick from phonemes, phonological processes, manner of articulation, or number of syllables. A description of what each is helps make this decision easier too. Each activity includes the word, phrase, and sentence level. A recent update also includes “theme” activities. There are 3 main activities, flashcards, sentences, or matching.
Add your own
You can add your own images You can add your own images You can add your own images
Data Collection/ Scoring
Data collection is fantastic! You have the ability to correct incorrect scores while in an activity (but not once it has been saved).  Within the score section, you can quickly view, print, or email progress for each student. Keeps great data collection. You cannot correct incorrect scores. Within the reports section you can view the overall accuracy for the day, as well as the accuracy at the word, phrase, and sentence level (This is a HUGE improvement for me on a recent update!) Data collection is easy. You can correct incorrect scores. Within the scoring section (the folder) you can copy the scores to the “clipboard”, send to a good spreadsheet, or email them.
Can create groups containing up to 6 people Can create groups containing up to 6 people Can create groups containing 4 people.
You can create and save audio recordings. This will save each of the recordings created for each word. You can create and save audio recordings. This will save each of the recordings created for each word. You can create and listen to the recording immediately. It will not be saved.
Switching between activities
Switching is a little difficult in this app, but definitely “do-able”.  You need to exit the activity you are in and set up the next activity. It will literally take less than 30 seconds. Switching between word, phrase, and sentence levels is very simple! You must exit the activity and set up a new activity if you want to go to different sounds, or switch to manner, processes, or syllables. You can easily switch between word and sentence level by clicking “flip” on the card.
Notes for the session can be entered after the activity is complete Notes must be entered during the activity. Notes can be entered during or after the session.
Homework is not included with this app. Homework is available in this app. Homework is not included with this app.
Final comments and what sets it apart
Articulation Station Pro is a very thorough, yet simple to use app. It has ability to correct errors in scoring, and has wonderful customer service. The stories and comprehension questions make this app more versatile for therapy use. Articulate it! Pro is also a very thorough app, but I found it to be just slightly overwhelming at times. The homework, themes, and ability to generate certificates set this app apart from the others. ArtikPix – Full is a simple to use, basic articulation app. The ability to send this data to a spread sheet sets it apart from other apps.

I hope this helps you in your decision! If you would like to see different apps on this list, please let Smart Apps for Kids know, and we'll add some others on here!

JenniJenni is resting up and already preparing for next school year! 

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