ABC Spy iPhone App by Stealth Education

I am delighted to have been asked to review a new iPhone 4/4S app called ABC Spy

ABC Spy by Stealth Education is a new creative learning app for children.  If you have an iPhone and little people yourself, you undoubtedly let them have a play on it (at least once the newness has worn off!) and may find they have taken vast quantities of random photos. Some of mine include photos of television programmes, the back of my head, carpets and toys to name but a few.  This app is great as it gets them doing something which will help them to learn their letters and letter sounds, as well as being able to use the camera to take photos of their favourite things.

ABC Spy iPhone App Home ScreenHow it works
The app is essentially a great way for children to learn their alphabet.  When you open the app you can add your child’s name at the top and then are able to get started straight away by selecting ‘Start Spying’.  Your child can then select a letter from the alphabet.  Once selected the letter sound is confirmed by a female voice (not the phonic sound).  Your child then has to find an object or picture that begins with their selected letter.  They can do this by viewing photos already taken in your iPhone camera roll, by taking a new photo, or by choosing one of three in-built pictures, all beginning with the letter sound.   There is a friendly spider who pops down if you tap the letter and he gives verbal clues about where you might find objects beginning with the letter sound.

Next your child can select a photo and choose a frame – there are 9 snazzy designs to choose from.  The photo can easily by re-sized and adjusted by using the usual thumb and forefinger pinch method.  There is an option to name the photograph too.   When your child has started to make a good collection of photos to match the alphabet there are various trophies which are awarded and these can be viewed by visiting the ‘Trophy Room’.  

Once your child has completed the alphabet you can make a film of what they have done – this gets saved  as a video on your camera roll and can be uploaded to YouTube.  If you complete the form on the ABC website providing your YouTube link, your film may even be shown on there.  You can view game statistics too!

ABC Spy iPhone App

What did we think?
I reviewed this game with my children – Josef is six years old and Seren is four years old.

Firstly, the graphics are great – very colourful and chunky and the icon images are clear.  There is a how to play button on the home screen giving very clear and simple swipe instruction screen-shots, so we had a look at those together so the children understood the concept of the game.  My children love taking photos and were very keen to get stuck in straight-away!  

As many UK children have a computer at home or use one at school, they will be familiar with using back arrows and if they use your iPhone a lot will undoubtedly be familiar with tapping icons to select, using the finger/thumb method to adjust image sizes and swiping.

My children loved the spying element of the game and were excited to go off and hunt for things to take pictures of, rummaging through their toy boxes and drawers.  For some letters it was a challenge for them to think of an object beginning with it so the spider of course gives some clues which they found fun.  The fact that they could win trophies for their efforts went down a storm too and this ‘reward’ really encourages learning and engages them in the game further.   Considering the different ages of the children, they both picked up what to do with the game really quickly.  My son engaged well with the reading element and enjoyed typing in a description for his photo’s (great practice for spelling), whilst my daughter loved choosing frames for her photos.  Here is what they said about the game:

Josef:  “I just love the ABC game because it’s so nice and I like when you have to take a picture of the stuff.  I love winning the trophies and I got the 1, 3 and the 10”

Seren: “The ABC game is good cos I winned the trophies”

Seren using ABC Spy appThere a very few negative things to say about this game.  I think the trophy cups could be a bit more exciting – maybe varied colours with different emblems on the front.  This could be developed to boy/girl themes allowing children to choose theme colours and trophy emblems. It would also be good for you to be able to add multiple players.  Currently you can only enter one players name, so if you have 2 or more children you would need to either let them share the app entering both names at the top, or you could let one child complete the alphabet, make a film and then delete existing game images for the next child to play.  Of course if you have a partner with an iPhone too they can both compete against each other (provided you use the same itunes account you can download apps on different devices).

All in all I would thoroughly recommend this game to anyone with young children.  Older children aged 8 and over probably wouldn’t play on their own but would secretly enjoy ‘helping’ younger siblings.  It is fun and utilises the fact that children love technology (=your iPhone) in an engaging and educational way.  The app can be used in the home and would also keep children occupied in the car when on a long journey or when out and about.

ABC Spy can be purchased in the App Store for £1.49. 

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