The BusyBaby app developed by TangoDown Studios is a great way to use your iPhone or iPod Touch to entertain your wee little baby or toddler. Having a 9 month old and another boy just shy of 2 years old I felt as though this is the perfect app for me to try out. I’m always in need of finding new way’s to entertain the two of them, expecially when away from the house. So having options available to me on my iPhone has become a necessity and a god send.
The basic format of BusyBaby is an easy to use interface with four different modes of entertainment. Two of the modes are more tailored towards a baby, while the last two are more for a toddler age child.
Mode 1 – Smiley
Smiley mode is very simple but great for a little baby or toddler. In it there’s a static background of a dog and sun. On top of this you can interact with a smiley circle with spiraling stars around it, which will move around as you rotate your iPhone. If your child touches the smiley you’ll here a laughing baby noise. If they hit the dog or sun other noises will get played. This is simple yet did have a very good response from both my sons. In future versions it would be great to see additional screens to choose from with more touch screen sound options etc… Also since this is for very young children it can be difficult having them play with a touch screen interactive game, when the buttons to change modes can very easily be touched, thus switching out. It would be great if there was one main navigation section which allows for a more discreet, less easily touched menu button to be placed while in the game modes. This would give the parents less work, which is always appreciated.
Mode 2 – Rattle
Rattle mode is very straight forward. In it the BusyBaby app allows you to cycle between several different rattle images, each with different sounds. If you shake the iPhone the rattle noise is made just like with a real rattle. This mode was my children least favorite though I believe it’s more tailored towards young infants, in which case the parent could use the rattle in a pinch if needed. The rattle feature is pretty good with regards to how well it syncs with the iPhone movement. One small issue I found is that if the phone is laid flat the rattle noise continue to go without any movement needed.
Mode 3 – Letter Safari
If you have a toddler then I think you’ll find Letter Safari Mode to be a nice addition to your arsenal of teaching tools. This is the age where my oldest has really taken to learning letters, colors etc. from flash cards. Letter Safari is in essence a more advanced version of alphabet flash cards, which cycles through the alphabet with colorful images while saying the letter and using it with a word. A couple suggestions for this mode are it would be nice if the letters in some cases were not quite so obstructed in their relative images. For instance, for the letter D – there is an image of a D with a rather large dog in front. The dog I feel obstructs the letter a little too much, when considering that this is used by a toddler who is just learning to discern between all of the letters. Having multiple letter modes, with just letters and other with words and audio would be a nice variation. Also cards for other things such as shapes and colors would be great additions to later versions.
Mode 4 – Sing Along
My oldest son LOVES to be sung songs, so the Sing Along mode is probably his favorite section of BusyBaby. In Sing Along you can plan any of 9 classic children songs, such as Farmer in the Dell, London Bridge, You are my sunshine and more. Just click on the song and the music starts to play. There is a lyrics section at the bottom which you can use as reference to sing along to as well. I will say that it can be difficult to follow along with the music unless if you already know the song. Most people would know must of these children’s songs so that’s not a huge issue, however haveing the text scroll along, similar to a kereoke system would be a a huge upgrade. Combining that feature with more songs would standalone as a great app by itself.
All in all the BusyBaby is a nice app if you need something in a pinch for your kids. And I know from experience that you do with little ones. I would love to see TangoDown Studios continue to build it out into a more robust app with some of the recommendations I mentioned above. But even as is, it can be useful to have in your library.
Note: I did find 1 bug while using Busy Baby. After playing with it for a few minutes during 1 session all of the images disappeared along with most of the sound. Closing out of the App and coming back in appeared to resolve the issue, and I haven’t had it since.
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