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  Lvl 4 - Expert

Eric L.

Status: Developer - Beta reviewer

Categories of apps she/he wants to review: Books - Education - Entertainment - Games - Lifestyle - Photography - Productivity - Utilities - Other

iDevices she/he owns: - iPad3- iPhone5- iPod4G

Description: I am an independent iOS app developer in the afternoon and an embedded systems engineer during the day. I created and maintain the iOS app GradeBook Pro (www.gradebookapp.com) and a few other, smaller, applications. I can test apps with my own children (girls, 3 & 1) and nieces/nephews aged from 4 - 10.

Profile categories: Can test apps with kids ages 0-2 - Can test apps with kids ages 3-5 - Can test apps with kids ages 6-10 - Gamer

Date when her/his profile was validated: 2012-11-01

User who invited him/her: Jean-Eudes L.

Total review Karma: + 6     ?

Each time a developer thinks a review from a reviewer is useful, he give to this reviewer +1 in review Karma. The more Karma a reviewer has, the better her/his reviews are assessed!


Apps created by this developer

Eric hasn't proposed any app for review yet.


Her/His app reviews

Math Summoner [text]

Link to the App Store

Rating  
What I liked The concept is excellent but tricking kids into learning can be difficult because the balance between fun gameplay and educational content is a difficult one. I think that this app handles that balance very well and the gameplay is engaging and interesting enough to satisfy the need for excitement while learning.

I let my young daughter play and she grasped the concepts and interface pretty quickly.
Improvements As with any app there are a few things that can be improved. The first thing that I noticed was that the app name didn't fit on the springboard icon. It's truncated and, honestly, I always find this a bit sloppy.

Second, not all of the artwork appeared to be scaled for a Retina display. I saw some artwork that appeared sub-par on the iPad 3.

I noticed some aliasing on the fonts and the font choice for some of the popup dialogs was difficult to read (just because of the font choice, not aliasing).
General review Overall, I think this is an excellent educational app. The basics are covered well (gameplay and educational balance). The improvements that I mentioned were mostly nitpicking items that could easily be changed in future releases.

The fact that my young child was able to play the same with little instruction speaks wonders about the intuitiveness of the interface.

Wubbzy's Train Adventure [text]

Link to the App Store

Rating  
What I liked This is an incredibly well done children's book (even if no activities were included). The voice acting is done well and both the text and diction were very easy to understand and read. The music is appropriate. The activities are relevant and intuitive.
Improvements This is very minor stuff but I did notice a few things while tinkering with the app. The main thing that we noticed (my daughter is three and spent some time with the app) was the lack of gesture-based page turning. She is used to being able to turn the page with a swipe gesture so that was what she expected to happen. It was easy enough to show her the arrows but a tiny bit less intuitive.
General review Overall, I dislike this app immensely because my daughter asks to play with it on her iPod before bed and never wants to go to bed. We've had it for two days and she has heard the story and played through most of the activities multiple times already.

Playground HD3 - ABC Edition v1.2.0 [text]

Link to the App Store

Rating  
What I liked The concept is excellent and the gameplay was appropriate for my young daughter who is learning the alphabet. She enjoys tracing letters since that is what she is doing in preschool at the moment. The letter matching game (both order and large and small) were well implemented and engaging. The game timer was a great thought too (especially when multiple children share a device).
Improvements The English localizations were not great. You can tell that the app was not developed by a native English speaker and translated by somsone with a more abstract knowledge of the English language. I highly recommend hiring a native English speaker to review both the in-app translations and the App Store marketing copy.

The app wasn't iPhone 5 4" Retina display compatible.

The top menu buttons (during gameplay) were somewhat difficult to press and weren't entirely intuitive (the page curl for back, for example).
General review The gameplay is interesting and engaging for a child learning the alphabet. Children should love the multiple activities and games. Parents should appreciate that the app is keeping the child engaged and teaching them a valuable skill in the process.

The English translations weren't perfect and I hoped for better in an educational app.

Wubbzy's The Night Before Christmas [text]

Link to the App Store

Rating  
What I liked There is a ton of content in this app, it's much more than just a book. My daughter (3.5 yo) was able to page through the story without any help from me so the interface is simple and intuitive enough for her to figure out without any prompting. The activities interlaced with the story were appropriate for someone her age as well, she figured them out without a problem. The story kept her entertained until the end and we even went back and watched the music videos.
Improvements On the Wuzzle Tree Dress-Up activity we found it somewhat difficult to place the pieces since they were small and covered by a finger while being placed (the tree ornaments were the difficult ones). It would be nice to have a free-form in the coloring mode and (maybe we missed it) an undo feature in that activity as well.
General review My daughter and I enjoyed this app. It was much more than just a story book, there are activities spread throughout the story and most of the elements on the story pages are interactive. The story is entertaining and the activities were appropriate for a young child.

Worlds: Tracing App - LITE v1.0 [text]

Link to the App Store

Rating  
What I liked The game graphics are appropriate and very well done. The spoken words and letters are annunciated very well (voice talent, perhaps). The controls/UI was intuitive and east to understand, even for my 3 year old daughter. The music was not too distracting and it was also appropriate to the game. The fonts and text were clear and easy to read.
Improvements First, although the music is appropriate it would be nice to be able to turn it off so a setting for that would be nice. Second, my daughter clicked the IAP links a few times and had to hand the iPad back in order for me to return her to the game. Third, I would love to see a flash card / free-form mode where a kid could just practice letters outside of the game-play. Finally, the app requires tracing letters in a predetermined fashion, free-form would be nice (why does an O have to be drawn in one direction and a W have to be four strokes instead of 1 long one?)
General review My daughter is learning the alphabet so I gave her this 'game' to play with and she spent quite a while playing through all of the levels that were available in the free version and then went ahead and unlocked the full version. The app is well crafted and certainly worth the download, the additional content will keep your kids playing for hours!

Kirin Wars [text]

Link to the App Store

Rating  
What I liked The artwork style was exactly as I would expect and like for this type of game. Since it is turn-based it was painless to play for a few minutes and then come back and pick up where I left off. The short cutscenes and fast load times are also very well suited for playing in short bursts (as is appropriate for mobile devices). The interface was intuitive and I was able to learn the gameplay without visiting the in app encyclopedia.
Improvements The app was not designed for the larger iPhone 5 display. While I was able to figure the controls out I could see how a new user could struggle so an in game tutorial would be a welcome addition. Players being able to move through walls was unexpected. The camera movements were erratic at times, especially during the opponent turns. Also, it would be nice to be able to accelerate or even skip the animation of the enemy turns.
General review I enjoy turn based RPGs so I was interested in giving this title a shot. I found the gameplay well suited for a mobile device (there were no long load times or really long cutscenes). I was able to learn the controls with trial and error but later noticed the in-app encyclopedia that had new user instructions/ Overall, it was a fun game that was playable on the iPhone.

iVocAudio, your memory chum (v 2.1) [text]

Link to the App Store

Rating  
What I liked I like the idea of being quizzed verbally since I tend to learn that way. I tested the app by recording some US state / capital city pairs and quizzing myself. I liked being able to test both directions (question -> answer, answer -> question). The recording was easy to use (even without looking, which was nice).
Improvements The English language localization was rough, especially in the quick-start guide. I think the translation was, perhaps, too literal at times. It would be excellent to be able to enter the question and answer pairs with text and have them spoken by the app (it would allow for easier distribution of study materials as well).
General review I tend to learn best vocally so it was nice to find an app to let me learn and quiz myself vocally. Since you record your own study material you can test yourself on any subject that lends itself to this style of learning (similar to using flashcards but verbal). I (re)learned the capital cities of all of the US states pretty easily (and I can always give myself a refresher if necessary).

Longlegs and the Pirate with No-Nose [text]

Link to the App Store

Rating  
What I liked The story is original, though certainly only appropriate for older audiences (as indicated in the App Store description). The story narration was clear and easy to understand (I tested in English only). The music was appropriate for the subject matter of the story.
Improvements The user interface was clumsy and unintuitive. I tapped around for a full minute on the Options screen before figuring out how to navigate the different settings and exit back to the main menu. Paging in the book doesn't support the typical swipe gesture for turning pages. There are pages where the font color matches the background so closely that it can't be read.
General review This story is appropriate for older kids (as expressed in the app description). I found the story interesting and the narration was clear and easy to read. With that said, the navigation is very difficult to get a good handle on as it doesn't adhere to typical iOS app conventions (like swipe to page turn).

Paddle Duck in Where's Carrie Cat? An Interactive Story V1.2 [text]

Link to the App Store

Rating  
What I liked The story is just about the right length to keep a toddler entertained and engaged. The interactive pages in the story are well done, with indicators for the child to know where to tap if they get stuck and good verbal feedback. The huge button on launch is great.
Improvements I couldn't find a way to exit the story and go back to the main menu (if there is a gesture to do this I missed it). The back arrow won't get you back to the main age because you get stuck in a loop with the page with the sunrise (and perhaps others).

I would have liked to see a game or learning activity included with the story (would help justify the price, certainly).
General review My daughter enjoyed this app, the story is engaging and short enough to keep a toddlers attention throughout the whole thing. A lot of care was taken to 'childproof' the app (long tap to access settings, no in app purchases, sharing is only accessible in the parents screen).

Christmas Karaoke: Christmas Carols & Christmas Songs vers 1.0 [text]

Link to the App Store

Rating  
What I liked Most of the more traditional and popular Christmas songs are available. The lyric indicator in the videos is timed properly with the music. The lyrics font is large enough for several people to see at once. The recordings are of sufficient quality.
Improvements The app name doesn't fit without being truncated. The splash screen background isn't retina optimized. The videos can't be rotated (like they are in the fake App Store screenshots). The prompt to rate the app shows up way too often. There is an activity indicator overlaid on the video that doesn't go away. It would be nice to be able to turn off the choir and just have the instrumental music (like true karaoke).
General review Most of the more traditional and popular Christmas songs are available. The lyrics font is large enough for several people to see at once.

It would be nice if the videos could be rotated and the choir could be turned off to be more like true karaoke.

Wild City 1.0.1 [text]

Link to the App Store

Rating  
What I liked Allowing me to log in as a guest without creating an account was nice and eliminated a huge annoyance for these types of games. The tutorial at the start of the game was well crafted and got me on my feet quickly. I enjoyed being able to chat with other players while playing. The missions are varied enough that they are interesting and most are quick enough to do in a single setting, which is nice on a phone.
Improvements iPhone 5 Retina support (I tested on an iPhone 4 and iPhone 5). Waiting for hospital treatment and other things adds some reality to the game but it always seemed to happen at the worst possible time for me (I had a few minutes to play and ended up in the hospital and couldn't do too much).
General review This game is fun and addicting. I've played through the tutorial and kept going. The flexibility of logging in as a guest was nice to get moving quickly. The game doesn't nag you to buy gold in game either, which is always a concern with in app purchases. Overall, a well done and very fun game.

The Meeting App 1.1.2 [text]

Link to the App Store

Rating  
What I liked The freeform notes area is excellent and incredibly helpful. I found the overall decisions / actions / notes layout to be useful in keeping a meeting on track and the ability to delegate a task directly from the action item entry was very handy. The pdf reports from the meeting notes were well laid out and contained all relevant information. Integration with the calendar was seamless. Dropbox integration worked and was a nice addition.
Improvements The meeting template feature was difficult to understand. I attempted to create template from a meeting and wasn't able to progress past the point of naming the template. The share to Dropbox feature doesn't give any indication that the operation was successful. The font on the reports can't be changed and (though consistent with the app) isn't as professional as I would like. It would be nice to be able to scroll horizontally on the notes entry section (especially for the mind mapping feature).
General review This app serves its purpose well. If you follow the Decisions / Action Items / Notes type of meeting structure it will serve you well. The free form notes entry with mind mapping was very useful (even in a meeting). Calendar integration was handy since you don't have to create the meeting invite and then create a meeting in the app. The reports contained relevant information and were easy to share via email or Dropbox.

Baby Phone [text]

Link to the App Store

Rating  
What I liked The buttons are large enough that my one year old daughter was able to hit them. The sound effects were appropriate for a children's app. The music was entertaining and got a few laughs. I liked being able to take her picture and seeing it used in the songs.
Improvements The app is designed for young children but there is an iAd banner that she was constantly tapping on. I understand that the developer needs to make a living so I don't object to the use of ads but covering some of the content with the banner made the app difficult for a child to use. I don't know if it is just a localization thing but I've never heard kids called Bub's (I don't mind, just found it different).
General review My one year old daughter had fun playing with this phone simulator. There are large numbers, good sound effects, and some entertaining music when you make a 'call'. I recommend removing the ads to make the app more useful (they cover some content and are constantly being tapped unintentionally by kids).