Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Noisy Book GAMES Review

The Noisy Book GAMES is a creative and fun application that allows children to discover the sounds found among objects in their world – some common, some interesting choices for an application such as this. It is also good to know that French as well as English languages are provided, a thoughtful inclusion especially for French speaking, bilingual and other families looking to expose children to languages other than their own.
Parents who have perused iTunes will be aware of the abundance of apps such as this geared toward teaching new sounds, be it animal, vehicle or the like. What makes The Noisy Book GAMES stand out in a crowd is that the included noises are all created with the use of a human voice, not samples from nature or devised electronically, creating whimsical sounds adults will enjoy as much as their children will.
The main section of this app is the book itself, consisting of multiple pages one can scroll through, each containing six illustrations one can tap on to hear narration read in order to explain the object or concept being explored. Listen to these sound effects and enjoy the animated illustration as well, such as “The bee goes ZZZZZZZ…” or “The watch goes tick tock…” but for me, the most interesting selections are those more obtuse, such as the choices of “Pain” or the electrical socket going “no.”
The cute animation included further brings these words to life with nice effect, and I enjoy that these images have the same hand-crafted quality that these voiced sound effects do, keeping this app lovingly low-tech.
One also has the option of reading this book to oneself, recreating the sounds found throughout or coming up with one’s own unique noises.
I appreciate how the different sounds found within are randomly displayed among these pages and that one can flip though pages of this book looking for a specific sound, but I don’t like how after a sound is explored, it is grayed-out and can no longer be selected – an issue for children who may want to come back to a favorite sound over and over again.
After one has enjoyed the sounds found throughout this app, do test one’s memory of these noises as a game. “One, Two, Three sounds” is also included.
The look of this game is similar to a page from the book, consisting of six images. A sound is then heard, challenging players to select the corresponding sound.
This game has a nice level of difficulty, as one needs to remember a lot of sounds, and these answers are not always obvious. I do not like, however, that one mistake ends the game, never allowing children to know what the correct sound was that they were hearing. I would much rather see this as an activity which allows children to simply try again, showing children the correct answer after a few wrong choices, as well as letting players move on to the next question.
A memory game is also included where players turn cards over in order to make pairs – nice touches include choosing between easy and hard difficulty, as well as these cards turning over as quickly as the players can flip them – good to know as the slowness of having to wait for the cards within memory style games is a common complaint.
The last section this app offers is called Noisy Rap, a sound board based on the same layout found in the book and quiz sections. Here one can tap on an image to hear the sound it makes, together with background music also playing. These new songs can be recorded, and it is nice that a demo song is included to hear what can be created with a little practice. This section, as the name of this app implies, is rather noisy and will be a hit or miss depending on what the player finds appealing to listen to, but as a single section, I don’t see this as a major flaw within this app as the book and quiz modes are quirky and fun.
I have enjoyed the various sounds the human voice can make within this app, but I do think the price set for this app is expensive compared to their other apps at this price point, something to think about.
 This post originally appeared on Giggleapps.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Development Trends for Blackberry Apps: Just Business?

It is great to feel wanted. Just like the App Developers were given plenty of attention by Research in Motion (RIM), the wireless service provider for Blackberry, at the recent Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.  RIM made it clear that they wanted to form a strong alliance between developers and themselves. Developers were invited to attend the panel session–an encouraging sign that RIM wanted to concentrate their future effort in App Development. The other point that was made plain by RIM was their support for quality apps. They expressed a strong policy against piracy of apps, a trend that has become increasingly common on other mobile platforms.
The reviews haven’t been very kind and continue with their harsh criticism of how Blackberry will fail, despite their efforts, especially as far as Mobile Apps are concerned. Incidentally, it seems that it is the flexibility in their app development that will allow room for more creativity on the Blackberry platform.
To ensure they are making the right decision, RIM is testing the waters. Their earlier introduction of WebWorks SDK on the Smartphone V2.2 proved to be a success with developers. They are currently running a promotion campaign in the US by offering Blackberry 7 preinstalled with 17 free apps, which includes games, and if successful, they will then release them globally. Their free trail offer for BBM music is still open. Given the right incentives, RIM hopes app developers will be willing enough to pitch in their efforts on the up and coming Blackberry 10.
Supporting multiple programs in apps is considered a drawback because it will weaken the apps’ quality. Native programming is encouraged for the mobile platform. In this case, it is the multiple program support options, which include web apps. A recent article in the Guardian thought it unwise to completely disregard HTML5 as well. The native apps are a customer demand simply because of the client/server trait, but that also means limiting the options that apps can provide if they are to be say, native web. Ultimately as long as the app serves the purpose, the end consumer will not care what program it is supported by.
So should anything different be expected from Blackberry, considering that the mobile has always been associated with the business sector? That still holds true, except Research in Motion also realizes the significance of diversification and as such, has recently introduced some very interesting apps, including games that are bound to tempt the non-professionals and the younger age groups.
This post originally appeared on Socialjitney.