iPhone Book Apps from PicPocket Books

P has taken a number of picture books and brought them into digital media. Here is a selection of books from this publisher:

My Friend Isabelle ($1.99*) is a story about two friends, one of which has Downs Syndrome. It compares how they are alike and how they are different and helps teach tolerance and acceptance.

In Racers ($0.99*) kids talk about formula race cars and trucks and would be perfect for a kid who is fascinated by fast cars. Pictures of kids with funny expressions accompany the colorful pictures.

Sleeping Beauty ($1.99*) is the classic fairy tale with beautiful watercolor illustrations that go along with the story. A page is read and then the illustrations are displayed.

Round Is A Mooncake ($2.99*) has the most interactivity in the series of books. The story goes through various shapes a little girl finds in her world. Many of the shapes are Asian oriented. Throughout the story are a few animals that when you touch them, they make noise.

In all the books, you have the ability to pause, skip ahead or go back, but beyond that the interactivity in the books is limited. They are basically animations that play on their own without requiring the reader to take part in the story. In some respects, this may be a good thing. If you have a kid that likes to have a story read to them without their needing to constantly click “next” to see the next page, then these would definitely work out well. However, in that case, I almost wish they were simple animations/videos, rather than an app. With an application, if you don’t interact with it, the screen will dim and the phone will auto-lock. (Yes you can adjust the length of time before it does this in the settings, however, for battery preservation I keep this to 1 minute and wouldn’t really want to change it, especially when the kids are playing with the phone as they have a tendency to not manually turn it off when they’re done using it. Perhaps relying on that 1 minute auto-lock). To make these more useful as an application, however, would be to make use of the interactivity available with this medium. Websites sometimes fall prey to this as well – “brochureware” is typically the type of site that has just been given the most minimal interactivity and is otherwise an exact duplicate of printed material or lives instead of printed material. There’s nothing wrong with “brochureware” type websites or applications. They certainly have their place – but they do miss the opportunity to become something even more engaging when passing up the interactivity features that could really help capture their audience.

*price(s) at time of this writing.

Update: Just wanted to include this response by the publisher:

I wanted to let you know that we are adding animations to some titles that are currently in production. The animations are subtle, like snow falling or stars twinkling, because we publish previously published books rather than made-for-iPhone stories – so the artwork is already drawn, and we strive to remain faithful to the original book. Our intent is to encourage curiosity by adding elements of interactive discovery to each title which the hot spots and subtle animations provide. We are consciously NOT creating video games, but hope that PicPocket Books can offer a gentle alternative to games for parents who want to offer their children mobile digital books.

We are also going to be introducing a new feature in our next releases wherein the page turns are controlled by a simple swipe of the finger. That way, if a child wants to just flip through and see the pictures of the book without waiting for all the words, they can do that easily.

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