App Review of the Week

Each week we publish a review of a new app people are--or should be--talking about.

Sago Mini Friends app review

sago mini friends title screen

In Sago Mini Friends (2014), you choose to play as one of five brightly colored animal characters: an orange cat, a brown dog, a blue rabbit, a red bird, and a purple…guinea pig? You then float downward and land gently in a neighborhood of four pastel houses — occupied, of course, by the four other […]

Tayasui Tangram app review

tangram title screen

Tayasui Tangram (Tayasui, 2013), which bills itself as “a modern variation of the classic chinese [sic] puzzle,” has two main areas: “Models” and “Build.” The “Models” section was exactly what I think of when I hear the word tangram: puzzles using geometric shapes. There are three screens’ worth of animal outlines; the puzzles get progressively […]

The Earth app review

tinybop earth title screen

At the start of The Earth app (Tinybop, September 2015), our blue planet rotates against a field of stars, with occasional comets flashing by (reminiscent of the opening to Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Cosmos). Scroll along a timeline at top of the screen to move through four geological eras, beginning with the Hadean Eon — the […]

Toca Boo app review

toca boo candle

Just in time for Halloween, little ones can play Toca Boo (Toca Boca, 2014), a virtual version of that thing where you sneak up on someone and yell “Boo!” A little red-spectacled girl pulls a sheet over her head and floats around her dark-and-shadowy house looking for victims; readers use their finger to lead her […]

MarcoPolo Arctic app review

arctic menu

On the opening screen of MarcoPolo Arctic (MarcoPolo, August 2015), a polar bear and cub nap on the ice, a horned, green creature lying directly across from the pair with a camera. The arctic is represented in white and shades of blue, with a cartoon-like, 2D style reminiscent of cut-paper collage. Hit the play button […]

Brainbean app review

brainbean instructions

When you open Brainbean (Tanner Christensen, 2014), you’re greeted with eight possible brain-stimulating games (plus a “Surprise me!” option). Each game gives you sixty seconds to complete a challenge; you can read a brief description and watch a demonstration of each by tapping the information icon. In “Letter List,” see how many words you can […]

Martha Speaks Story Maker app review

martha speaks title screen

Create customized stories and practice vocabulary with loquacious mutt Martha in PBS Kids’s Martha Speaks Story Maker app (2012). The main section of the app functions as a sort of Martha Speaks–themed MadLibs. Choose from four dog characters — Martha, Skits, Lily, and Pops — for your story’s star, then pick from two settings. These […]

The Everything Machine app review

everything machine title screen

Much like in their Human Body app, Tinybop’s The Everything Machine (2015) provides an opportunity for experimental play and experiential learning. Here users set up virtual circuits between electrical components to accomplish tasks such as power a (digital) light bulb, play sound, or take a picture. The app makes the most of the device’s utilities […]

Niko and the Sword of Light app review

niko title screen

In Niko and the Sword of Light (Imaginism/Studio NX, 2013) the titular young boy is the only Warrior of the Light left. He has in his possession the last relic of his people: The Sword of Light. Forged by the gods, the sword is Niko’s key to saving his world by ridding it of the […]

Toca Nature app review

toca nature title screen

Siân ♥s Toca Band. While Toca Nature (Toca Boca, 2014) is more contemplative — no sunglasses-sporting emcee hollering “We rockin’ it!” here — it provides a similarly satisfying experience of experimental play. As the app opens, you are presented with a square chunk of landscape, floating in pleasantly dreamy, starry space. A few trees and […]