Tag Archive: iPod

My son has been using his iPod Touch now since he was about two.  It was mine but then we ended up both wanting to use it at the same time so I ended up having to get me own.  I have no regrets about this and he has been using it for almost 5 months now without incident thanks to an excellent case.  Tends to like coming back to the same apps for a long period of time so even though most of these apps I’ve listed here cost a couple of bucks each, they have been well worth the money.  He likes games such as Katamari Damacy and Plants vs. Zombies but still he often comes back to these educational titles and will spend hours with them at a time if we let him.

Clifford game – If your kid likes Clifford already then that’s just a bonus.  In this game, you are given 3 blank spaces to fill in with letters.  At first you are presented with a pool of letters.  Once you drag the first letter to the blanks, the pool of letters changes.  Then it changes again on the third go around.  The idea is that no matter what letters are chosen out of the pool, they will spell a three-lettered word.  After the final letter is chosen, a picture is shown of what the letters spell and the word is said.

Shape Builder – This game is a basic puzzle builder.  You are given an outline to drag puzzle pieces into and when you solve the puzzle, the pieces morph into a picture and then the object is written and spoken.  Then you get another puzzle.  There are a few different levels of game play.  They will turn on or off guidelines in the outline, use larger or smaller pieces, etc.  This is a great game to start with since it will show your child how to use the touch screen.

Spin Art – This isn’t really a game as much as an activity.  You are presented with a blank canvas and a bunch of paints and brushed.  With a flick of your finger you can send the canvas spinning and then let the fun begin.  This is like the carnival game where you put a frisbee or other object on a spinning platter and dribble paint on it.

Teach Me Toddler/Kindergarten – These are a pair of programs sold separately that run your child through different sorts of learning exercises.  A little mouse with a cold, robotic voice guides the user to complete each task and an overall score is kept.  As the user gets better at the activities, they graduate to a higher difficulty.  On the Teach Me Kindergarten program, you do things such as completing words by dragging letters into blanks, simple math and counting exercises.  On the Teach Me Toddler program, the user is asked to identify colors, numbers and letters.  To keep it interesting for the child, there are virtual rewards given along the way.  They allow you to decorate a personal space.  I find the mouse a little creepy but my son doesn’t seem to mind.

CatPaint – This program allows anyone to superimpose cats onto any picture.  My son gets a kick out of this but he needs my assistance to put pictures on the device of course.  I suppose if he had an ipod touch with a camera, he could probably figure out that part too.  You can scale the cats up and down, rotate them and chose from several.  When you place cats on the picture, they make random cat noises.  Some of them more pleasant than others.

These are just a few of my son’s current favorites.  If you have an app appropriate for this age group, please mention it in the comments and I’ll try it out.

It’s never too early to get your child started with computers.  They are a large part of everyday life and your toddler has the ability to learn very quickly.  The earlier they learn basic skills, the sooner they can learn more advanced skills that will help them in school and later in life.

The iPod touch 8 GB makes an excellent entry level platform for a young child around two years old. The touch interface is very intuitive and easy to grasp.  The interface is simply enough for your child to operate on their own but also complex enough that they will be learning useful concepts to apply to computers they encounter later in life.

One reason that you might NOT have given your child an iPod Touch already is that you are concerned about them dropping or throwing it.  You will certainly have to supervise your child, especially at first, to teach them how to do the things they want on the iPod and teach them the ground rules for using the iPod.  I would NOT suggest ever leaving them alone with the iPod but durability concerns can be mitigated with a case such the Tech21 iBand.  This case will go a LONG ways towards protecting the iPod from accidental drops on the floor.  If your child drops it on rocks(why are you letting them use it near rocks anyways?), all bets are off.  This case MIGHT even protect against a temper-tantrum toss but don’t count on it.  If they are getting frustrated with iPod, it’s time to give the device a time out.

What can your kid do with an ipod touch?

There are over 100,000 apps for the iPod/iPhone so finding the right ones can be daunting.  If you have any suggestions that I don’t list here, please feel free to comment down below and let me know.  Here is my short list to get you started though:

Letters A to Z – My son absolutely loves this $0.99 app.  He has been playing it for nearly a year on and off.  He was able to recite the alphabet at 2 years old and I’m not sure if it was entirely because of this app but I’m sure it didn’t hurt any.  The interface is incredibly simple to operate.  He simply touches the letter and the letter is spoken or if he touches the object next to the letter, the name of the object is spoken and a short animation of the object in action is played.  To this day, the frog animation still makes him smile.

The Dr. Seuss books by Oceanhouse Media – His favorite of this series has been Dr. Seuss’s ABC but he likes The Cat in the Hat as well.  These apps are fairly well crafted.  They have several levels of interactivity.  You can choose to “Read the Book” and just flip through it like a normal book and read it to your toddler or you can choose to “Read to Me” which reads the book aloud but your child will have to flip the pages manually.  The last option is “Auto Play” which will read the pages and flip the pages for your child.  These books last roughly 10 minutes each in auto play mode and can be handy if you just need a couple of minutes in a public place to get something done. These books vary in price but are cheaper than printed versions and have been far more useful since we take the iPod everywhere with us.

SpongeBob Square Pants tickler lite – This app is free and I somewhat regret spending the $1.99 to buy the full version of this app since it’s more complex and doesn’t actually enhance the experience any for a toddler.  Even if you find SpongeBob somewhat annoying(I happen to like him), this is actually an excellent little app.  This teaches your child new ways to interact with the iPod Touch.  You can shake the iPod and SpongeBob will jump up and down.  You can tilt the iPod and he’ll fall towards the edge of the screen.  You can touch the screen and make certain gestures on it that will invoke other responses from SpongeBob.  You will be amazed how quickly your child learns all the new ways to interact with the iPod because of this app.

Lastly, you can simply put music and videos on the device.  To put videos on it, you can either buy them from the iTunes store or rip DVDs from your own collection with a tool such as Mac the Ripper and convert them to iPod format with a tool such as Roxio Popcorn.  It takes a bit of time but the hours of entertainment are worth the effort.

Potential Drawbacks – Your child may grow up wondering why all other computers lack a touch screen.  Also, some parts of the interface may still be beyond your child’s comprehension.  They could accidentally delete an app from the home screen for instance but you can always restore it from iTunes later so that isn’t a huge concern.  Also, I would suggest NOT letting them operate the device while eating since it can get downright nasty and food could get stuck in the gap around the screen.

Why not an iPad?

Bigger is better, right?  Well, not always …  While the bigger screen is nice, it doesn’t really matter to your toddler. I would also be very hesitant handing my son a delicate $500 device. They don’t make an iBand case for it as of today so I think adequate protection would be a challenge.  Also, they are not nearly as portable so many of the times that you would have something small like an iPod Touch with you in a public place, an iPad would probably be sitting at home or worst yet, in the car.  Lastly, a heavier device such as the iPad is going to be more susceptible to damage from being dropper or thrown simply due to the law of gravity.

Next steps

Mattel Aquarius circa 1983

I personally think sticking a toddler in front of a modern computer is a bit overwhelming.  There is so much going on and there really isn’t a good way to “lock” the computer in a state where they can just start banging on the keyboard without concern.  For this reason, I would actually suggest an ancient computer if you have access to one.  I’ve been blogging a bit recently about my Mattel Aquarius.  I received it as a Christmas present when I was 5 years old but I think I could have benefited from having it even at a younger age.  I think it’s perfect for teaching letters and cause/effect such as “hit a key, letter shows up”.  You can even go into semi-advanced topics such as punching in a short BASIC program and showing your child how to start the program by typing “run” and stop it by hitting ctrl-c.  Many older systems from around 1977-1985 have excellent characteristics for teaching a young child about computers.  Some other suggestions would be a Commodore 64, Atari 800, IBM PC JR, Apple IIe and the TI 99.  Pretty much any old computer with built-in BASIC that boots straight to BASIC.  Most(all?) of the computers above can be had for under $50 or so and will hook directly to your TV.  You don’t have to feel bad if your child destroys it but it’s not likely to happen anyways since most of them were built like tanks.  If you buy an old computer such as one of these and teach your child about it, you’ll probably learn something yourself in the process.

I always carry my iPod Touch with me so I can listen to podcasts.  With the Touch, I also have the Apple Earphones with Remote and Mic with me.  These are not the most durable headphones and perhaps aren’t the best sound quality but they are definitely the best match to the iPod Touch because they allow me to control the iPod while it’s in my pocket.  I can stop/play, adjust the volume, etc right from the little 3-button mic/remote.

Since I always have them with me, I decided to see if they would work on my new EVO.  Do they work?  Sure, sort of.  There is a thread on Android Forums that goes into detail about specific functions of the headphones working or not.  But my findings are that the mic and headphones DO in fact work.  The middle button for start/play/hangup also seems to work.  The plus and minus button do not seem to work for me.  Lastly, I found that the volume is way too quiet for me to use these headphones as a headset in the car on the freeway.  I listen to my iPod in the same situation all the time with no trouble but when plugging them into my EVO, I couldn’t hear the other caller well at all.

Update 7/13/2010: My previous iPod headphones find kicked the bucket and I opened up a new pair.  I can now hear the other caller perfectly.  They work just fine for this application so I can wholeheartedly recommend them.  If you carry both devices in your pocket, the iPod headphones are a no brainer.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my new phone but here are a few of the things I DON’T love about it that I’ve found in the last few days.  In no particular order, here is my list of nitpicks:

My iPod Touch browser seems quicker – With a 1GHz Snapdragon, I was expecting big things.  It’s not bad at all but it doesn’t blow away my 2G iPod Touch.  That being said, the screen on the EVO DOES blow away the one on the touch.  I’d expect this much though because it’s a newer device.

My iPod keyboard seems smarterThe problem is that the Android keyboard thinks it’s smarter.  It tries to do more auto correction and completion than the iPod does.  There may be a way to tweak some of this behavior but I haven’t looked that deep yet.

4G coverage sucks at least it is in my area yet I’m still charged $10/mo extra for it.  This was NOT disclosed to me at the time I reserved the phone.  I only found out shortly before I activated the phone.  Furthermore, it doesn’t seem to reconnect to 4G very consistantly.  What I mean is that when I first connec to 4G, it will sometimes connect but even in an area where the signal is strong, once the 4G drops, I’ve yet to see it reconnect on it’s own.

I was under the impression that the mobile hotspot would be a free featureStupid me.  Why would I possibly expect them to give away a feature that they can charge for?

4G was supposed to work simultaneously with voice – It was my understanding that I would be able to surf the web or run a mobile hotspot simultaneously with a voice call.

You have to have 4G on to use the mobile hotspot – This really kind of sucks since the 4G service is currently so spotty around here.  I thought my wife would FINALLY be able to replace her ancient flip phone and her Verizon Mifi with this one device.  Not today…

Speedtest fail When I ran the mobile hotspot and did a speedtest from my iPod Touch, I got 16Kbps down and 892kbps up.  BOTH of these scores are absolutely pitiful but the 16kbps is worse than the lousy T-mobile GPRS aircard I got stuck in a contract with for a year.  I though THAT was bad but at least it was dependable and had good coverage.

Sense UI lacks refinement – The HTC Sense UI is very good and has features that put the IOS to shame BUT it’s not quite as polished.  One example is when I try to thumb between homescreens sometimes I will “catch” on a widget accidentally.  This would never happen on IOS.  I think Android/Sense UI are far more powerful than IOS but IOS is far more intuitive and user friendly right out of the box.  Argue if you like but which device would YOUR grandmother or a 4 year old have an easier time learning?

Non-existent standards – This phone features a micro HDMI port. Have you ever seen a micro HDMI cable or adapter?  Nah, me either…

No skype – I was really surprised that Skype hasn’t been released for this platform yet.  It’s disappointing since I use it for international calls to Canada.  I thought it would also be ideal because of the true multitasking too.  Hopefully when it finally arrives it can be used as a home screen widget.

Market Place woes – The market place is great because they allow anything but also horrible for the same reason.  There is a ton of garbage in there including unfinished apps, beta(abandoned) apps and fart apps.  I found one today called “Do not buy this app”.  Can’t they clean this crap out?  Would it really be that hard?

I firmly think that all of these problems I’ve mentioned are quite fixable and will probably be worked out in the first few months.  The exception being the Market Place.  I think it’s the wild wild west when it comes to vetting out good apps.  They have opened the flood gates to compete with Apple’s claim of 100,000 apps but they’ve ended up with 75% junk apps that would never have made it into iTunes in the first place.  That being said, I like that fact that Metasploit on Android without rooting is on the horizon and there are a stack of NES/SNES emulators available.  The fact that iTunes blocks applications like that is fairly irritating.  I also like the fact that I never have to plug the phone into my computer to load music, docs, calender/email sync, etc.  That being said, both the iPod Touch and HTC EVO 4G will be SHARING spacing in my pocket for the foreseeable future.

I’ve owned and iPod Touch for several months now.  I spent the first couple of weeks I owned it searching for the perfect case for it.  I saw the thin skins that ripple every time you touch them and I saw the clunky hard sided plastic cases.  The whole appeal to the iPod Touch for me was the fact that it is so small and sleek.  Yes, I want to protect it but no, I don’t want it to feel twice as bulky as it really is.  Then I found the Tech21 iBand.  At first, it looks like just a rubber ring.  It’s not the cheapest case at $25 but I have to say it’s well worth the price.  When you put this on your iPod touch 2nd or 3rd gen, it feels well protected.  It’s molded perfectly to the dimensions of the iPod Touch so it fits well and does not feel like it will ever come loose on it’s own.  If you set it on the table facing up or down, the iPod itself doesn’t touch the table.  If you happen to drop it on a flat surface, it’s pretty much guaranteed to be protected.

The case itself doesn’t add much weight to the ipod.  It only weighs 15.5 grams which is nearly nothing considering the iPod itself weighs 108 grams.  Over the time I’ve had the case, I have found it to be very durable.  It has one edge that has a bit of wear on it but that wear hasn’t spread or spiraled out of control like it would with other materials.

While I can’t think of any ways to improve the case, I do have a couple of gripes about it.  First off, it makes the power and volume buttons fairly hard to use.  The converse of that is that you won’t be pressing them by accident any time soon.  Secondly, some headphones may not fit through the hole as it sits.  The Apple ones work flawlessly though so it’s not a big deal to me.  Third, when I plug in my sync cable, a small part of the front rubber near the brand name sometimes catches on the connector.  Again, not really a big deal to me.  Last one that might be a deal killer for many folks…  It won’t dock while in the case with ANY docks that I have seen available.  This has been a little disappointing to me but I’ve learned to live with it.  If you were REALLY concerned, you could always roll your own cheaptastic iPod Touch dock.  The bottom line is that the Tech21 iBand is the best iPod case I could find.

Worms on the iPod/iPhone

Worms is one of the most original console games around.  If you haven’t played it before, skip the 3D versions and try out any of the large number of other 2D Worms ports from the Commodore 64 version all the way to the Sega Dreamcast, Nintendo DS and beyond.

Anyhow, I was surfing in the app store not finding Worms.  Then I looked around a bit on the web wondering if Worms would be ported soon.  I found a few shreds of hope.  Unfortunately one of the “shreds” of hope is over 2 years old already.  It’s a post here stating iPhone gaming – Worms on the way.  I’m not sure if that video up above is a fake or not but it sure looks like fun.  I’d love to see any updates on this subject.  Post some comments if you know anything or if you would also like to see Worms on the iPod/iPhone/iPad/iDevice.

My favorite iPod apps

I’ve owned an iPod touch for about four months now.  Already it is an indispensable piece of equipment that I use many, many times every day.  For years I resisted the lure of an iPod because I thought of it as a glorified mp3 player.  100% not true.  In fact I don’t have any mp3’s on mine at all.  Just some podcasts and a few awesome apps.  I have not bothered to jailbreak my device because I don’t think it is necessary.  I plan to get an Android phone this summer when the Supersonic comes out and I plan to root that for my extra-functional fix.  Here are a few of the apps that I use all the time and couldn’t live without now:

Logmein Ignition – The ultimate app for the iPhone/iPod.  This allows you to remotely log in to your desktop or laptop computer and control anything on the screen possible.  If you have multiple monitors, shake it to switch screens.  Your mouse pointer stays in the middle of the screen and you move your desktop behind it.  Use gestures to zoom in, zoom out, scroll and more.  Best part is that it caches your login and password so you can jump right into your desktop quickly.  Control your Mac or Windows machine with this app.  It’s $30 but worth every penny and it works with the free version of logmein.

WordPress – This app allows you to blog right from your iPhone or iPod.  It ties straight into your admin panel and lets you skip the login if you like.  Great for when an idea strikes you and you are nowhere near your computer.  You have to toggle a setting in the admin panel to set it up but that’s easy.

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars –  This game is a surprisingly good milepost in the series.  For a long time I judged it by the screen shots but it actually plays much better than you would think.  It has a good story and is well tweaked for the mobile platform.  Autosaves occur after every mission and you can put your iDevice to sleep in the middle of anything and when you come back, things will be as you left them.  It’s not nearly as involved as a ps2 or ps3 version but it’s a good little time killer when you have a few minutes.

Katamari Damacy – This game seems like a natural for this platform.  If you haven’t played it before, I strongly urge you to try it out.  If you have a ps2, do yourself a favor and grab the very first version of Katamari Damacy.  This game is simple in concept.  You roll a ball around an area and it gets larger as you roll over things.  The cubist art style makes the game more interesting and amusing.  I do wish you could switch between tilt controls and on-screen but other than that, this is one of my favorite console games so it’s nice to have it on the go.

O’Reilly books – The same O’Reilly books that are down at the bookstore for $20-$60/ea are available from the app store for $3-$5/ea.  I think that’s fair.  I’ve bought 3 of them so far and they are great.  For something like a programming language reference book these are especially nice since they are searchable and bookmarkable.  My only complaint is that in some of the books, the comments in the code samples get cut off for some reason.  Still, for $5 I’m not complaining at all.  It’s also nice to be able to fit a respectable O’Reilly library right in your pocket and always have it at your fingertips.

Speed Test – I use this app all the time.  It allows you to see how good (or bad) your internet connection is.  It also logs it along with a GPS coordinate.

FlowChat – IRC in my pocket.  If you thought IRC was dead and that twitter has taken it’s place, think again.  It’s live and kicking.  Most of the IRC networks I used to use in the 90’s are still there but irrelevant now in my opinion.  The server that seems to have the topics most interesting to me is Freenode.  If you jump on there, you’ll probably find me in #zipit.  I have not tried the competitor to Flowchat, Colloquy but I use Colloquy on my MacBook Pro and it works well on there so that might also be worth a look.

This list is by no means exhaustive but those are my top choices.  Honorable mentions go out to Twitteriffic, Kindle, Amazon, RingCentral, pTerm & Skype.  Please post in the comments if you have any cool apps that you can’t live without.

Powered by WordPress. Theme: Motion by 85ideas.