Your iPhone + a toddler. Together, these are not necessarily a good combination. But, if you can get over handing your precious iPhone or iPod to a child, then it can keep them entertained for a while, and hopefully educate them a little as well.
iColorQ is a good example of this in action.
This app is quite straightforward, with no settings required. It displays and speaks the name of a colour, then shows a couple of examples of objects in that colour. Then there’s a bit of cheering, and some time for some freestyle painting in the current colour, followed by a quick reminder of that colour The app only uses six colours, and cycles through them until you quit the app.
And that’s it. I thought it was too simplistic at first, but then I realised – I’m not the target audience. The target audience is very young children. And in my case the target audience was actually kept occupied for at least half an hour, which made for a very happy toddler (and parent). Learning, followed by the cheering and the reward of drawing, works very well.
One of the problems I found when giving my iPhone to my toddler to play with Scribble, is that there are too many on-screen options that he’s compelled to touch. You know that scene in Father Ted where Dougal’s told specifically not to press the big red button? You get the idea. A toddler-specific app with a stripped-down interface makes all the difference. It’s all about designing to your target audience.
In the prior version of the iColorQ, the iPhone’s top status bar was still displayed. That’s now been removed, and it makes for a cleaner, fullscreen experience in my opinion. You still can’t stop them pressing the menu button to quit the app though.
Further colours could be included, such as black and white. Perhaps these could be turned on via the Settings app, so that the simplicity of iColorQ’s interface is maintained.
I could see a series of these apps targeted at young children, incorporating simple words, colours and numbers. Animals would be good. And while I was writing this review, the developer released iShapesQ as well – it’s quite similar, using coloured shapes to educate and entertain.
All in all, my toddler really liked using iColorQ. Now I just need to remove the jam from my iPhone…