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Recent Reviews

Top 10 Educational Apps for Kids

Posted on Oct 10, 2010 in Top Rated Apps | 41 comments

There are many great teaching resources available for kids on Android. Here, we have compiled a top 10 list containing some of the best apps currently offered in the Android Market. If you have a young child beginning to learn the alphabet, numbers, colors, etc. they will definitely love these apps. It’s important to make learning fun and smartphone apps are definitely a new and exciting way to engage your kids.

These apps are all kid-friendly. No ads and deactivated buttons (except Home, usually) ensure your child won’t end up on the internet or accidentally quitting out of the app.

1.  ABCs

Price: Free

This app features alphabet flashcards which combine phonetics and images to teach the alphabet. Use the random letter quiz mode to test learning progress. Star the more challenging letters for more repetition practice later.

2.  Kids Alphabet

Price: Free (Full ~$1.49)

Similar to the ABCs app above, this app features the letter and example word on one flashcard. Clicking on the image (e.g. the airplane) will make the appropriate sound effect. Similarly, clicking on the word will sound it out completely, in addition to the letter itself.

3.  Kids Numbers and Math

Price: Free (Full ~$2.99)

This app is fully featured. Your child can learn the numbers, counting, choosing max/min numbers, addition, subtraction, and other exercises. Voice instructions and sounds help support and facilitate the learning process. Multiple languages are also supported!

4.  Colors

Price: Free

This app is a quick, simple way for kids to learn their colors. Having a child’s voice read out the colors is a great feature. Click the button at the bottom-right of the flashcard for an example of the color. Use the quiz mode to test learning progress.

5.  Shapes

Price: Free

Another quality learning tool to help your kids learn different shapes, both 2 and 3 dimensional.

6.  Kids Shape Puzzle

Price: Free (Full ~$2.99)

An entertaining puzzle to improve cognitive and motor skills in a “kid-friendly way”. Kids can slide the appropriate pieces into the correct spot, which will then lock them into place. Solve the puzzle and the solution will be revealed.

7.  Sight Words

Price: Free

This app is targeting children that are ready to read. It contains over 100 words that are essential for kids in kindergarten and the 1st grade. Star the challenging words to create a custom deck of words for your child.

8.  Kids Connect the Dots

Price: Free (Full ~$2.99)

Another “kid-friendly” app that challenges your child to connect the dots in sequential or alphabetic order. Kids will definitely like when the final image is revealed, and may not even realize they are learning in the process!

9.  Kids Game: Memory Mania

Price: Free (Full ~$0.99)

Like the classic game of Memory, choose from different card sets (e.g. animals, shapes, numbers, colors, etc.) and different board sizes (e.g. 2×2, 3×3, 4×4). Help your kid improve their visual learning and spatial memory skills.

10.  Kid’s Finger Paint

Price: $0.99

This app is a great way to let your kids express themselves. They’ll start with a blank, black slate and can add any color they chose by clicking the color wheel in the top left of the screen. Clear the screen and start over by shaking the phone. To change the thickness of the lines, use more or less of your fingertip.

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Google Translate Android App, an Essential Resource

Posted on Oct 8, 2010 in Tools, Top Rated Apps | comment

Google Translate helps you translate between 50+ languages using text or speech as input.

  • Version: 1.1.1
  • Size: 0.9MB
  • Category: Tools
  • Price: Free



Google Translate is a simple, bare-bones app with very specific features.  There are dictionary results, text-to-speech support, and voice input. As you’d expect from Google, the translation results are very accurate from what I’ve seen (albeit I stuck with English to Spanish/French). However, the text-to-speech readouts of the translations were disappointing. Needless to say, hearing another language without its proper accents/pronunciations is rather useless.

A convenient feature is the ability to use voice as an input for translation. Currently, the only supported languages are English, French, Italian, German, and Spanish. Hopefully this list will continue to grow with future updates.

Lastly, in order to use this app you’ll need to have a proper text-to-speech app (e.g. TTS Pico, TTS Extended) and a voice data app. Don’t worry if you don’t have these installed yet, because after you have installed Google Translate, you’ll be prompted to install the necessary apps with a popup.

Pros:

  • Accurate translation capabilities for 50+ languages
  • Text-to-speech and voice input
  • SMS translations



Areas for improvement:

  • Voice readouts need proper accents/pronunciation
  • Additional voice input languages support



Conclusion: An essential tool for learning and understanding other languages.

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GameFly GameCenter, Ultimate Video Games Android App

Posted on Oct 6, 2010 in Entertainment, Games, Top Rated Apps | comment

GameFly GameCenter provides the most extensive video game info, reviews, cheats, codes, and more!

  • Version: 1.2.1
  • Size: 3.04MB
  • Category: Entertainment
  • Price: Free



GameFly is a well-known, must-have gamer’s resource. With this app, you can search and prioritize games based on the systems you own. Currently included are the Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, DS, PS2, PSP, Xbox, GC, and GBA. You can easily scroll through the most popular games or search for a specific game title. Once you’ve found the game you’re interested in, access the plethora of information provided. If you’re trying to decide whether or not a game is worth buying, you’ll want to read up on the GameFly user ratings, reviews, trailers, and game description. Even better, you can decide for yourself by renting games directly from the app (as long as you’ve signed up for a GameFly account). Additionally, there is an endless number of news articles posted each day on all the different gaming systems.

Pros:

  • Best resource for gamers
  • Game video trailers
  • Awesome user-interface



Areas for improvement:

  • GameFly needs to add PC games
  • Enable Apps-to-SD
  • Ability to add reviews & ratings from within the app



Conclusion: The ultimate reference for dedicated gamers!

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Top Android Game: Bubble Blast 2

Posted on Oct 4, 2010 in Games, Top Rated Games | comment

Bubble Blast 2 is a puzzle game in which you must initiate a chain reaction in order to destroy all of the colored bubbles on the screen.

  • Version: 1.0.0a
  • Size: 1.38MB
  • Category: Games
  • Price: Free



The basic idea behind this Android game is to analyze the layout of the bubbles and determine where you want to start the most successful chain reaction. In Puzzle mode, each level has a predetermined number of touches that you are allowed. When you touch a red bubble, it will burst and shoot in all 4 directions. When touched/shot, blue bubbles turn to yellow, yellow to green, then green to red to bursting. There are 200 total levels in Puzzle mode, with each level getting significantly more challenging than the previous one.

Arcade mode is fun for a shorter challenge. You will start with 10 touches and can earn more by successfully popping enough bubbles. Make sure that you’re earning more touches than you are using, otherwise your turn might be over pretty quickly!

The graphics and interface of this game are very entertaining. The best part of the entire game might just be the sound effects when the bubbles pop. I love it!

Pros:

  • 200 addicting levels
  • Entertaining sound effects
  • Global scoreboard



Areas for improvement:

  • More levels!



Conclusion: An addicting Android game you should definitely download.

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Top Android Game: Moblox

Posted on Oct 3, 2010 in Games, Top Rated Games | comment

Moblox is a “physics puzzle game” challenging you to think before you act!

  • Version: 1.2.2
  • Size: 5.41MB
  • Category: Games
  • Price: €1.99 (~$2.74) (Free trial)



Moblox features 120 brain teasing levels with the goal being to knock the green blocks off the platforms. To do this, you have 3 demolition ball sizes to choose from depending on the amount of power you want to use. However, the bigger the ball size the more points it will cost you. Each green block is worth 6 points (red blocks -6) and your objective is to reach 100 points total. If it’s impossible for you to reach 100 points, you will have to restart the level.

This game seems to be a successful merge of Angry Birds and Drop Block. The graphics are whimsical and the controls very easy to use. Helpful hints are provided on levels with new challenges, which definitely came in handy. The purple launch pad for the demolition balls lets you apply different angled shots so you can try different ideas on how to beat each level (also adds difficulty). To pause/restart/exit the current level, click the red pause button. To change demolition balls, just click your preferred size at the top of the screen.

Pros:

  • 120 very challenging levels
  • On-screen tips



Areas for improvement:

  • In-game instructions/rules/tips
  • Purchasing full version should carryover completed levels/scores from trial
  • More explanation on how scores are calculated and stars awarded



Conclusion: Physics + puzzle + game = Moblox, a must-play Android game.

Full:                                     Trial:

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Top Android App: New Scientist

Posted on Oct 2, 2010 in News and Weather, Top Rated Apps | comment

New Scientist reports on the latest science & technology news.

  • Version: 1.0.0-beta3
  • Size: 305KB
  • Category: News & Weather
  • Price: Free



Quickly access the latest news or narrow down your search by different topics/channels. The “latest news” page offers a list of articles organized in chronological order (from the past few days).

An average day sees about 10-20 articles, so you’ll have new material each and every day. The app’s layout is fast and uncluttered, so scanning article topics and finding the information you care about is pain-free. Many articles also provide links to the scientific journal articles that are referenced so you can do some further research/background on the subject (this will open the browser however).

Pros:

  • The very latest in science and technology news
  • Clean, speedy interface
  • It’s only the beta version!



Areas for improvement:

  • Articles shouldn’t need an internet connection to read
  • Swipe left/right to change article



Conclusion: A convenient way to catch the latest science and technology news all in one handy app!

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XDA Developers Forum Android App: Tips, Hacks, Root

Posted on Oct 1, 2010 in Communication, Top Rated Apps | 2 comments

XDA Developers Forums can be accessed with a beautifully formatted Android app.

  • Version: 1.3.1
  • Size: 1.02MB
  • Category: Communication
  • Price: Free



The XDA Developers Forums are famous for their collection of Android tips, hacks, roms/root, and general knowledge. With their latest app, you can browse the full list of forums, read, post, send private messages, save favorites, get notifications, and more. For many of these features, you will need to register and sign-in to your account at the forums.

Pros:

  • User (and eye) friendly UI
  • Full forum access, read, post, download, search, etc.
  • Access to extensive Android/phone information



Areas for improvement:

  • A paid version to remove ads (very intrusive for a forums app)
  • Option to open a topic from the first post, not the last



Conclusion: For Android enthusiasts looking for tips, hacks, and rooting details, this app is a must.

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Top Android App: Matrix Live Wallpaper

Posted on Sep 28, 2010 in Themes, Top Rated Apps | 1 comment

Matrix Live Wallpaper offers the most elegant character raining effect for Android.

  • Version: 1.1
  • Size: 22.91KB
  • Category: Themes
  • Price: Free



Add one of the most recognized effects to your homescreen. There are a couple options to go along with it. Adjust the falling speed and the color of the characters to your liking. If you can’t decide on a specific color, set it to random and it’ll change every time you return to your homescreen.

Reminder, Live Wallpapers are only available for Android 2.1+.

Pros:

  • Adjustable colors and speeds
  • No noticeable lag or battery issues



Areas for improvement:

  • Options for using only certain characters



Conclusion: Another must-have Android live wallpaper!

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Top Android Game: Wordfeud

Posted on Sep 27, 2010 in Games, Top Rated Games | comment

Wordfeud is a crossword style multi-player word game very similar to Scrabble.

  • Version: 1.0.8
  • Size: 401KB
  • Category: Games
  • Price: Free



Wordfeud lets you challenge friends or random opponents across the Android world. You can play in up to 30 different games at the same time. If you choose to play that much, make sure you enable push notifications to be informed when it is your turn! Additionally, there are currently three languages to choose from (English, Norwegian, and Dutch), and you can even chat/taunt your opponents as you play.

I think one great feature of this game is the 48hr time limit between turns. This allows you to play the game at your own pace, and you won’t have to worry about whether or not you’ll have time to finish a game once you’ve started.

For rules and details, refer to Menu > Help.

Pros:

  • Similar layout, rules, points as Scrabble
  • Play up to 30 games simultaneously
  • 48hr maximum time limit between turns



Areas for improvement:

  • Stats and player profiles are a must!
  • Improve dictionary accuracy/reference



Conclusion: Show off your vocabulary and board game skills with this classic word game!

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Build Your Vocabulary w/ GRE Buddy

Posted on Sep 26, 2010 in Reference, Top Rated Apps | 2 comments

GRE Buddy enables you to master the essential vocabulary required for standardized tests like the SAT & GRE.

  • Version: 1.0 beta
  • Size: 238KB
  • Category: Reference
  • Price: Free



This solid reference app features 5,000 different words in a flashcard-format presentation. It is a learning tool great for tests like the GRE, SAT, LSAT, GMAT, MCAT, ACT, TOEFL, and IELTS. Simply flip through the words to test yourself, then click on the flashcard to reveal the definition. For challenging words that you’d like to come back to later, star them and they will be saved. To access your starred words (as well as sort the database of words by beginning letter), tap the drop-down menu at the top left of the app.

Pros:

  • Flashcard based presentation
  • 5,000 unique words
  • Simple, minimalist UI



Areas for improvement:

  • Add a bookmark to save your spot in the list of flashcards
  • Option to randomize words displayed (not just alphabetical order)



Conclusion: If you’re studying for any admissions type test that involves vocabulary, this app is a must. And even if you’re not, it’s a great learning tool to have in your pocket.

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