Despite its title, RedactiePartners MediaGroep’s Kids and Home app (March 2011) features no children and a wide variety of buildings, few of them actually homes. However, it serves as an adequate introduction for young children to different architecture around the world. The first part of the app resembles a nonfiction picture book; each screen introduces a particular structure, mentioning a unique feature of the building and how it differs from the narrator’s own house (for example, “This is the Taj Mahal. It is in India. It was built as a monument to love. My house was built to be lived in”). Only very general facts are given on the main part of each screen, instead giving focus to a photograph of the structure itself. A light bulb in the upper right corner, once tapped, becomes a pull-down fact sheet about the location with more detailed information and trivia. Each screen includes a related (if somewhat lackluster) interactive element; for instance, on the Big Ben screen a double-decker bus beeps and drives across the photo. Although so many — over twenty-five — pages become repetitive, they do allow the user to explore a diverse range of structures, from houseboats to cathedrals to the pyramids.
The second part of the app allows users to customize a home. Essentially a virtual sticker book, this feature lets users select the location of their home (e.g., Mars, underwater, a desert) to its accoutrements (e.g., columns, solar panels, and weather vanes). Another sticker book–ish section offers images of vehicles, animals, etc., to play with, while yet another section invites digital painting. I used the app several times and each time found the creative parts challenging to work with. I had trouble making the pieces of my home stay where I wanted them and saving my finished picture. Theoretically the user can send their “dreamhouse” by email or upload it to Facebook, but after I saved the image of my home I was not able to upload it. Overall, the app is less user-friendly — and less interesting — than I had hoped it would be.
Available for iPad (requires iOS 4.1 or later); $0.99. Recommended for primary users.