I’ve recently had the opportunity to review Mantaray Creative Labs iBaby Buddy ($1.99) and like what I see with one caveat. From the get go it should be obvious that you take risks handing over a several hundred dollar iPhone to an infant, I could easily imagine the lady at the Apple Genius bar asking if my iPhone got wet and my saying, “Does my baby teething on it count?” But with that caveat, and a parents desire to give their children the best learning opportunities they can, I think this is a use of the iPhone worth following.
Upon opening the App you’ll have three screens you can scroll through, one with animal pictures, the other with instruments and the final with basic geometric shapes. All of them have accompanying sounds – watch out for the skunk, that one made me laugh. The phone will also vibrate when you shake it, a nice feature - can I coin the term iRattle?
The growing number of Apps for very young children is something I’m very curious about, and expect some research into their effect upon children’s learning at some point.
From a developmental perspective, what I like about iBaby Buddy is that it’s aimed at developing pictorial literacy. In this regard I think the App does well. It also uses the accelerometer in a smart way for changing pictures and vibrating the phone, again these are all great ways to engage the senses of a young child. What I’d like to see over time with this App is addition of new images, most young children will get quickly bored with toys, this is normal. Toys that become favorites are ones that typically have some versatility, the iPhone has a lot of potential. I also think a toddler version which introduces basic written words would be a logical addition to this down the road.