Magic Story Beans & Smart Apps for Kids (website) 3/21/13

This week highlights and app of mediocre quality. Wondering why you would keep reading, or bother downloading this app? Well, I discovered something that I haven’t noticed before and hopefully you can benefit from this discovery.

Certain apps have in-app purchases to buy additional books. When I looked through the app, the the in app purchases were $.99. When I visited the iTunes page, online the prices were different. I triple checked the prices by launching the iTunes program on my PC, then visiting the store. The prices through iTunes (the program) matched those in the app. What did I discover? The content found on the site may not match what is generated from the iTunes Store. This isn’t an earth shattering discovery, but it could help when considering purchase of an app.

Next I’d like to introduce the Magic Story Beans app. Mediocre, right? Well, if you aren’t interested in an app that offers four free books then skip this section and go to the review of an app site that posts a “Free App of the Day”.

Four free books are available to download through the Magic Story Beans app which runs on iPad only requiring iOS 3.2 or later. Others are available for purchase from the ‘beanstalk’ which is their theme related store. I found an older download on my iPad for one of the books. Apparently this developer started to offer the books as separate apps, then wrapped the books later in the Magic Story Beans app.

Here's why I rate this app as mediocre. Navigating isn’t intuitive. There is an outline that you can move left to right over four buttons: Continue or Start over, Read myself or Read to me. Once you have selected how you want the book to display, clicking the ‘GO’ in the bottom right corner will get you started. Also, if you’ve chosen a book and want to return to the library immediately, maybe you chose the wrong title, you MUST click ‘GO’. Only once the book is ‘open’ will the home icon appear in the top right corner.

Each page has ‘hot spots’ which show an animation or includes additional audio to support the story. Of the four free stories only one includes text, so it doesn’t make much sense that they offer ‘read myself’ if there is no text to follow. I suppose you could still choose ‘read myself’ to simply mute the narrator and make up your own story.

I’m going to keep this app installed on my iPad because of the four free books and the fact that the books are narrated. The narration is very good and the hot spots on the pages make the books interactive. Continue reading for the second half of the '2fer' this week.



Smart Apps for Kids: A website review

I’ve rarely mention websites where you can get a list of apps. I keep my list quite short but I have one to add. Recently Mary Barber, retired co-worker, introduced me to Smart Apps for Kids. What I like about this site is the “Good Free App of the Day”. Smart Apps for Kids includes short reviews of the daily free app making their site even more valuable. So far the majority of their apps are educational. The site is organized by Age/Subject as well, so you can view past daily freebies. Who knows, they may still be free. The free menu also includes 52 Free Disney apps and 19 Free Legos apps.  You can follow them on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook or sign up for email. Out of the options to keep in touch I only check my email daily so I chose to sign up for their daily alert. Now I won’t miss a free app that comes my way. Check them out if you’re interested.

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