App Review: Shapes, Too Fun to Talk About
The app has a series of clean, colorful illustrations that use shapes to make up an image of, say, a boy in a baseball cap holding balloons and standing with a dog on a leash. The player finds and touches the shapes each illustration is designed to teach, and as the player touches the shapes, the program calls out a running tally of the total number of shapes found. The animated explanations of each shape are read aloud by a child’s voice while a catchy whistling tune plays. A semi-circle, for instance, is “a circle cut in half. It can be a baseball cap, or a juicy slice of orange, or a baby’s cradle.” When all the shapes are found, an element of the illustration comes alive in brief animation–the dog barks approvingly, for instance.
It’s an “edu-tainment” app, as a colleague called it, and a cute one at that. When an iPhone version was recently announced, I decided to get a review from a veteran player: my two-year-old. Here’s the conversation:
Q: Do you want to play Shapes?
Q: What do you think of that game?
A: Um, it works now.
Q: It works now?
Q: It wasn’t working?
A: It was not working, yeah.
Q: I thought Shapes worked pretty well.
A: I have to take off my flip-flops to watch it. Can I hold it?
Q: Sure. So what do you think of this game? Do you like it?
A: [No answer, lost in play.]
My child, who has limited interest in iPad apps, gives Shapes an active endorsement: happy to find it working properly, but too busy playing to talk about it.