By Graham K. Rogers
Tim Cook only made a couple of short appearances at last week's WWDC keynote presentations. When he was on stage, he praised the developers and mentioned that the youngest there who had won an Apple scholarship was nine years old. I have looked at one of her apps: Smartkins Animals.
Anvitha Vijay already has a number of apps to her credit, but the latest is Smartkins Animals: a free app is aimed at children. With a brief set of 10 animal images along with their pre-recorded names (e. g. Dog, Parrot, Cow) aims to help youngsters develop speaking skills.
The displays would also help with reading and I envisage some use early on with those learning English as a second language. As well as controls to play and repeat the sounds, children (or parents helping) may record the child's voice as a check and for reinforcement.
There are another 100 hundred animals to be added to the app as in-app purchases, but when I tried I was told that these were not yet available. I did have a problem when I had reached the display panel for the additional sets as I was unable to return to the main page. Other pages had a Home icon.
To make those purchases, and to read information about the app, I was asked to complete a simple math problem: this would indicate a certain skill level, perhaps beyond really young children, so is a form of control. The app works on both the iPhone and the iPad, where it may perhaps be better suited to working with younger children.
As Cook implied, with Anvitha Vijay, and all the other young developers attending WWDC (and the thousands who could not), the future looks good. Smartkins Animals is a simple enough app and worth downloading not only for the usefulness (particularly if you have young children), but as an encouraging example of what some youngsters are capable of.
See also: Cassandra: Smartkins Rainbow Colors - Tim Cook's WWDC Shout-out (2)
Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. He is now continuing that in the Bangkok Post supplement, Life.