The Big Brag and Yertle the Turtle – ebooks for the iPhone and iPad

Oceanhouse Media has recently released the next set of Dr. Seuss books as universal apps that work both on the iPhone and iPad. I’ve already expressed my love of Dr. Seuss books, so once again I’m thrilled to see the collection continue to expand. The Big Brag and Yertle the Turtle feature the ability to read the story yourself, have the story read to you (manually turning the pages), or auto play (pages turn automatically). Sound effects can be turned on or off.

In case you’re not familiar with these titles: in The Big Brag, a rabbit thinks outloud to himself about he thinks he’s the best animal of all, at which point a bear listening nearby disagrees with him and boasts that he is the best of all animals. So they put their skills to test against each other, the rabbit trying to hear as far away as possible, the bear trying to smell as far away as possible. They are then interrupted by a worm who says he can see so far, he sees around the world and back again to two fools who have nothing better to do than argue who is better than the other.

In Yertle the Turtle, Yertle is king of his pond, and all he can see, but he is greedy and wants to be king of more – to do so he needs to see more. So he orders his poor loyal turtle subjects to come and make his thrown higher and higher. They obey, but one turtle complains that it isn’t fair. Yertle ignores his pleas and continues to order more and still more turtles over so he can sit on them. Finally the complaining turtle sneezes and makes the huge turtle tower crumble to the ground, sending Yertle into the mud and freeing all the turtles.

I think you’ll love these stories as much as my kids and I do. Zach happily listens to the stories over and over again.

The Big Brag: $1.99*

Yertle the Turtle: $3.99*

*price at time of this writing
Disclosure: I received a free copy of these apps for review purposes

Highlights My First Hidden Pictures – iPhone Kids Game

IHighlights Magazine falls into that category. Of course, one of the best parts to the magazine was always the hidden pictures game. This game is now available on the iPhone with Highlights My First Hidden Pictures. The game is every bit of fun on the iPhone as it was in print, but with more bells and whistles. The pictures are in color – when you find an item, simply touch it and it’s marked as found. You can zoom into or out of the picture.

The game comes with 8 puzzles, and if you register, you get 2 bonus puzzles. More puzzles are available for purchase as an in-app purchase. One thing I really liked that they did was explain how to TURN OFF the ability to purchase items from within an application so if you don’t want this ability freely available to your child, it’s pretty easy to enable and disable.

When I played the game, the pictures were fairly easy to find – although I did struggle on a few. Zach also liked the game and found a few right away, but seemed to struggle on some of the items as well. I would have assumed that the game would have been easier than it was given it’s title, but I still thought it was well done. Also, features like the “hint” button help reduce any frustration a child might have from not finding the item more easily by zooming in closer and closer to the item, each time you lick the “hint” button, to help you find it.

The game is available for both iPhone and iPad (however, and iPad Optimized version is still in the works). Additional puzzle packs cost as little as $0.99. To see a video of the game click here.

Highlights My First Hidden Pictures: $1.99*


*Price at time of this writing.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this app for review purposes.

AutoStitch Panorama vs. Pano – iPhone Panorama Apps Review

A previous post about the You Gotta See This! app – I went looking to see what other types of panorama apps there are out there. I had bought one several months ago called Pano – but the favorite it seems, as far as I can tell from posts I was finding online, is another one called AutoStitch Panorama.

I was impressed with a few of the AutoStitch Panorama features – namely the fact that you can just take as many photos as you want, using the regular iPhone camera. You don’t have to take them in any particular order – just shoot away (but try to get a 30% overlap). And you can crop the photo yourself at the end.

However, despite the rave reviews the app was getting – I was not impressed with it’s stitching results. I tried several times to be as careful as possible about the photos I was taking, making sure the phone was the one rotating, not me – making sure the photos were well in focus, angles were consistent, etc. – and yet in just about every panorama I took, there were way too many “bad overlaps” and a lot of ghosting for my satisfaction. This was especially noticeable if there was a definitive structure line in the picture (like a post etc.)

However, the application I had bought those many months ago – still created the best looking panoramas. But where Pano fails, is what I liked about AutoStitch; with Pano, you do have to take the pictures in a particular order, and in fact, you have to take it in a particular direction too – left to right (I can’t find anywhere a way to change this). Also – you’re restricted to taking the pictures going in one straight line, if you want to add more “height” to the panorama, you can’t. But in the end – the panorama you get, is very clean – with minimal oddities in the overlap. When you’re taking the pictures – it shows you a shadow of the edge of the late photo you took, so you can be sure to get the right amount of overlap and help line things up. (However, this isn’t very useful if the scenery is somewhat repetitive) :)

But the proof is in the pictures. Take a look below. Same scene – two different Panorama apps:

First by AutoStitch Panorama:

(right click – and open link in new window or tab to see the closeup. The “lightbox” thing doesn’t do so well with how wide these are…)

Might be easier to see the details on VR rotator (You’ll be able to zoom in/out in the VR rotator thing)

Second by Pano:

(right click – and open link in new window or tab to see the closeup.)

And again the VR rotator.

I think the difference is really clear. You can see I was able to get more height on AutoStitch, but the ghosting was ugly. Pano’s panorama was beautiful – but limited.

Again, this is why I think that there is in fact room for one more panorama app despite You Gotta See This!‘s claim that “there are already plenty of panorama apps.” I think making use of the gyroscope in the phone is an excellent way to improve on what’s already been done. (And actually on a slight tangent – with the gyroscope in the phone; WHY oh WHY!???! is there no “stabilizer” in the iPhone camera? In this day and age – all digital cameras have stabilizers so that you don’t have to hold your breath and hand very very still so you don’t shake the camera. And yet the iPhone camera lacks a stabilizer. Really?? I hope we don’t have to wait as long as we did for “copy/cut/paste” to get camera stabilization. Seems to me, with the gyroscope in there, it should just be a matter of software. What good is that great camera on the iPhone if every photo I take is blurry???) =steps off soapbox=

AutoStitch Panorama: $2.99*

Pano: $2.99*

*price at time of this writing.

Updated to Add: I just recently made another panorama using Pano – I still think this app does a much better job than AutoStitch – but just to prove it’s not totally perfect -you’ll see in this most recent one – a small oddity to the right of the picture where the trees and grass are duplicated. It didn’t get the overlap perfect at the end there – but still pretty good. Also – This time I used the app in portrait mode, rather than landscape to get as much height as I could. It’s a smaller area (only about 90degrees rotation). Here it is.

Panography vs Giving the people what they want – You Gotta See This! iPhone app

Sam told me about this app he saw a write up about that’s called You Gotta See This!. What the app does supposedly is this: You click “record” and then wave your iPhone around (slowly) and it will take several sequential photos and based on the movement of the camera and the gyroscope in it (assuming iPhone 4 compatibility only here), it will line them all up to create a picture. Now this picture will NOT be a panorama. It will be what they call a “Panography” – basically a series of (outlined) photos, overlapping each other to create an effect associated with David Hockney. (I wonder if, as an artist, he is thrilled to become another Ken Burns, where people can computerize his style.)

I was really intrigued by the app and was this || close to buying it, but then noticed the reviews. People were really annoyed that you could not get rid of the seams. The developers retort: “Stitched Panoramas are not Seamless. This is by design. ‘You Gotta See This!’ is not a panorama app. The purpose of the app is to create what is called panorama collages or panography”. (Side note – Chapter One in Developing Applications for Dummies: Standard responses when things don’t work the way people want them to: 1) “It’s not a bug, it’s a feature!” and 2) “The application is working as designed.” Ugh. )

Fair enough – but it seems to me that getting rid of the seams would be possible. I can understand that the point of the app is to create this cute effect, and I can see using it every now and then – but I can also see getting kind of annoyed that I don’t have the option to create the photos without the seams. I’d rather have some stitches not line up perfect and have most of the seams go away (or at least their “shadow outline, or Polaroid outline” go away) and let me touch it up with Photoshop, but still allow me to have a really cool big panorama picture – than be forced into always having a “cute effect” picture. The user base clearly wants this feature, and they don’t seem to be giving in and have no intention to.

Is it just me, or does that seem… petty? Silly? You’d think that an iPhone app developer, given the feedback on how to make their app better or more useful, would do so, especially since I would imagine the change to do what people are asking for, would not be a huge leap away from what the app is already doing. Given the choice, if another app that comes along does something similar, and does get rid of the seams, I’m all over it. Personally, I’ll take functional and useful over cute.

You can read more about the app and see some samples of the pictures it creates on the developers website:

If you want cute photos, (or hope they’ll get the hint from their userbase) – you can also buy the app here:


Green Eggs and Ham – eBook for the iPhone / iPad

OGreen Eggs and Ham.

There are three options for the story: Read to Me (The story is read to you, and you can turn the pages manually. This gives you time to click on things in the picture to have the word shown to you), Read it Myself (You read the story, you turn the pages. You can still click on individual words to have them read to you, or pictures on the page to have the word read and shown to you), Auto Play (The story is read to you, and pages are turned for you. There is a pause at the end of each page so you can click those pictures and words still). They’ve added some sound effects to the pages. If they drive you crazy, you can turn those off too – click on the little “i” on the main menu and you can turn them off.

I really love the Dr. Seuss books, and I’ve been really pleased with the way Oceanhouse Media has been creating the eBooks. They’re fun, the kids love them. If you’d like to see the full collection they have available, check out their website.

Green Eggs and Ham: $3.99* (one app works on both iPhone and iPad)


*Price at time of this writing.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this app for review purposes.