For those that own a Honeycomb tablet, it should still, unfortunately, come as no surprise that there is a shortage of true tablet specific applications on the market. This is especially true for apps designed to help kids learn about the world around them. I was pleasantly surprised that this application was made so well and really, has such a great fit an finish to it. My near three year old daughter had plenty of time working with this application and she found it very enjoyable – as I could tell.
The interface is pretty and is very straightforward. There are not a ton of customizations or settings like what you’re accustomed to in Android, which is good because this is for children. In the settings menu, there are really only two changes which are “Tips” and “Auto Snap.” The Tips option disables any pop up directions that tell you of the functionality of the application like “Press the green button to start.” Having Auto Snap turned on is great for very small children that are just learning the functionality of a touchscreen and also are not that great at lining up shapes to drop accurately. Auto Snap auto connects the selected state with its location by up to about 1/2″ away without the child needing to lift their finger. If you turn off Auto Snap, the child needs to line it up pretty accurately and lift their finger to confirm that’s the correct location. Other than the two settings in the Settings Menu, the other options are Voice off, and Music off. Turning the Voice off makes the application into more of a puzzle game with geography because the child wont be able to hear the names or state facts and they will have to concentrate on matching shapes. The music really adds a lot of fun to the app for children, and lightens it up and makes it seem less like learning and more playing.
There are a couple features that change the learning of the app. There is the option to have your states in alphabetical order, or randomized. When you have it randomized its a great way to test locations of the states for the child, if not their memory on the locations, and its a great way for them to practice matching skills with random state shapes. But once you change it into Alphabetical it assists in teaching the child what letters each state starts with. So its not only a good application for a 2 year old but also a much older child due to the versatility of the learning level. Really there was only one issue in the design of the app that I could pick apart. I live in Seattle Washington, all of the states shapes are pretty spot on, except Washington state. In Kids Maps, Washington looks a lot like a rectangle when in reality it has a very large peninsula on the western side of the state that takes up approximately 33% of the state. So some children might not recognize Washington on a map after using this app. The only other oddity in the app is one of the facts that pops up is that “Virginia is where Tobacco comes from.” My three year old repeated Tobacco, curious what that was about, but I didn’t bother to explain. Other than that all the state facts are pretty acceptable.
Overall, the application really impressed me, I consider it to be the best learning app that I’ve encountered on Honeycomb for children so far. My daughter enjoyed it and had a fun time repeating some of the facts aloud to me. Kids Maps app is definitely worth $1.99 to me. Go out and pick it up if you have a child and a Honeycomb tablet that you’re comfortable with them using.
Have a kid? Have a Honeycomb tablet? Check it out!