Mellow Mummy: APPen Children's IPad App and Stylus Review : Taking life as it comes...

Wednesday 25 September 2013

APPen Children's IPad App and Stylus Review

I am a big fan of allowing children to use a stylus with a tablet PC such as the iPad - it allows them to learn pen control and gives them a greater level of accuracy when using a touch screen. The new APPen is a lightweight pressure-sensitive stylus designed specifically for use by children and it comes with a free app which includes drawing, puzzles, games and writing practice.

Girl using the appen on tablet

The APPen uses the audio input (microphone) on your tablet or smartphone to send messages to the app about how hard your child is pressing. On the colouring app for instance, the harder they press, the thicker the line they draw. There are one or two other areas of the apps which rely on the APPen but most of the games and activites are just as good to use without the APPPen as they are with it.

APPen childrens pressure sensitive stylus

The APPen is a nice chunky stylus, ideal for smaller hands. Lara took to it instantly although, when she is tracing letters in the writing games she does have to press the pen down quite hard and this requires her to hold it at an unnatural angle. When colouring or playing games she doesn't have the same issues.

Lara most enjoys tracing the letters. I think she has other apps for colouring and puzzles and maths challenges that she prefers. However, I guess I'm quite unusual in that my ipad is almost totally devoted to apps for her; if you are someone who wanted to just download one app for your child with all the different activities in one place then this could work for you, especially given that the APPpen main app is free with lots of individual games and activities inside it - more in-app games will be added occasionally and I think the intention is that there will also be in-app purchases too.

Appen childrens drawing and colouring app

Lara finds the instructions for setting up the pen hard to follow (she can't read them yet!) so when she chooses to start the app she has to ask me for help calibrating the pen which puts her off.

The APPen nib is quite an important part of the pen and the APPen website claims that it is capable of upto 76000 rounds of play but I'm not sure they tested it against the curiosity of 4 and a half year olds. One of the very first things Lara did when she first played with it and could hear the noise it was emitting (a very feint beeping noise) was to pull the nib to see what happened... the protective rubbery coating tore off!  Thankfully the APPen comes with one replacement nib and if you need more you can contact APPen directly through their website.

Appen childrens letter writing app

Compared to the Leappad or Innotab which are dedicated kids tablets I think the APPen compares well. At only £14.99 the pen stylus combined with the free download offers almost all of the functionality on the first generations of these two kids tablets but at a fraction of the price. The colouring app is very similar to that on the Innotab but the writing and puzzles apps are actually quite a bit better than any of the (paid for) VTech equivalents.

Find out more about the APPen at the APPen website  where you can find a full list of supported iOS and Android devices.

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