App Review: Puzzingo

Puzzingo

Name Puzzingo
Creator 77SPARX Studio, Inc.
Marketplace Google Play & Amazon Appstore
Categories Preschool, Elementary, Vocabulary
Price Free w/ in-app purchases (for Google Play)
MB 33.5 (bigger w/ in-app purchasing
Operating System 2.2
SD Card Yes
My Rating 5/5

Puzzingo or “Kids Puzzle Game PUZZINGO for Toddler and Preschooler with Animals, Numbers, Letters, and More” is a puzzle based vocabulary game.  Puzzle pieces are inside boxes which can be shaken to open.   Each piece is a noun with a written label and is named when selected.  The pieces can be placed into shaded areas to complete a puzzle.

There are currently two versions of this app available for Android Devices.  The version on Google Play (3.81) has the option of in-app purchases of additional puzzles.  The current version in the Amazon Appstore (3.36) does not have in app purchases.  Both apps are free and ad-free.  Many people are reluctant to purchase apps where in-app purchases are available.  The in-app purchases in Puzzingo (Google Play version) require parent verification.  As I talked about in my Security and In-App Purchasing post, I recommend all SLPs set up a pin code for on device purchases.  This will prevent clients or thieves from purchasing unwanted apps as well as in-app purchases.  For more information on how to set up the pin code, click the link to the post above.  With a pin code you can be assured there will be no accidental purchases on this app.

I was given an “all access pass” to the Google Play version by the developer to review this app and I am very impressed.  I can see why this app is one of the most popular apps on the market.  This is the best play-based vocabulary game I have used.  The Amazon Appstore version currently has (free) puzzles for toys, numbers, jungle animals, ocean animals, farm, picnic, and alphabet.  In the Google Play version, you have free access to juggle animals, picnic, dune bug, steam train, farm, sand castle, and costume shop for free.  With in-app purchasing you can get puzzles in each of the categories and sub categories below:

Trains: commuter train, train yard, city train, country train, space train, clown train, train station

Princess & Fairies: fairy house, fairy tailor, fairy rock band, fairy flight school,  frog race, pirate princess, princess

Holidays: Lunar New Year, Santa’s stable, snowball fight, Santa’s workshop, Christmas tree, harvest, New Year,

Cars: mini van, chopper, indie car, stock car, 4×4 truck, clown car, bulldozer, super bike, sports car

Animals: Jungle Animals (another), forest animals, fresh water animals, safari animals, polar animals, grassland animals, Australian animals

Space: observatory, alien hair salon, space station, consolations, solar system, astronaut, space shuttle

Core Concepts: numbers, colors, counting, ocean animals, shapes, toys, alphabet.

There are 12 – 32 pieces (vocabulary words) in each puzzle.  Some of the puzzles have short games to play after they are completed (e.g., racing game with the cars).  The developer occasionally adds more puzzles, so this list may be incomplete in a few months.  I recommend this app to be used as a play-based game during speech language therapy as well as for home use with all preschool and elementary kids.  This app is great for a preschooler, yet still engaging and educational for older children.  My 7, 9, and 10 year old children all like this game.  I have even learned a few words from this game.  I will be giving away a free “all access pass” to the Google Play version of this app this summer, so check back here for more details later. You can view the developers video below.

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Amazon App of The Day: Timers4Me & Stopwatch Pro

Timers4Me & Stopwatch ProIf you have an Android device and you don’t have a timer/stopwatch, you should download Amazon Appstore’s  app of the day.  It is a highly customizable timer, stopwatch, and alarm.  The timer and alarm clock has a log which can be emailed. Multiple timers can be created and saved.  The stopwatch works well as a counter if you want to track something during therapy, but as far as I can figure out the data cannot be saved. This app can be downloaded or saved to “your apps” for free today (4/21/2013).  Click the app picture above or here to view the app. This timer appears to be much better than the one Amazon had for free in March and it has an alarm.

The Amazon Appstore can be downloaded on almost any Android Device.  Find out how to install it here.

App Review: Shake-a-Phrase

Shake-a-Phrase

Name Shake-a-Phrase
Creator Artgig Studio
Marketplace Google Play & Amazon Appstore
Category Story Starters, Parts of Speech, Vocabulary
Price $1.99
MB 7.1
Operating System 2.1
SD Card No
My Rating 4/5

Shake-a-Phrase is a fun app for students to get story starters, identify parts of speech, and learn new vocabulary.  There are three parts to the app Shake It!, Story Starter, and Quiz Me!.   Shake It! is a random sentence generator with definitions provided.  There are five themes: animals, fairytale, monsters, sports, and shake starter.  The shake starter (story starter) provides ideas of how to begin a narrative.  Favorites can be saved to a list.  Options in the quiz area let you select from 1 to 5 parts of speech you want to practice: nouns, verbs, adjectives, prepositions, conjunctions.  Students are asked to find these parts in sentences.  Correct answers are rewarded, but incorrect answers are not tracked.

I recommend this app for classroom and home use for students functioning in the upper elementary to middle school range.  This app would also be good to fill in the last few minutes of the therapy.  I was given this app to review it, but I am receiving nothing for my review.

Android Articulation Apps

I have tried 3 Android flashcard articulation apps and thought I would compare them all in one post. All of these apps are set up for individual therapy. None of them work well for doing articulation therapy within a group, unless you are crazy like me and have two tablets and a phone.

Name Pocket SLP – Articulation Quick Artic Sly F & V
App Store Google Play; Amazon Android Pit Google Play
Developer Synapse Apps Virtual Speech Center SlySpeechApps
Price $14.99; $14.99-Kindle Only Free w/ Registration Free
Size (MB) 44 93 11
Minimum Operating System 2.1 2.2 2.2
SD Card No No No
Data Track & Email Track Track & Email
My Rating 4/5 3/5 4/5

PocketSLP

Pocket SLP – Articulation

Pocket SLP – Articulation is currently my go to app for articulation therapy. First you type in or select the client’s name and then you can select the phonemes you would like to work on. This is the only app of the three that allows you to select more than one speech sound. It has 30 different speech sounds. Once inside the flashcards you can select which the desired target position for the phoneme: initial, medial, final, or mixed. Speech sounds can be worked on at the word or sentence level. The photographs are good quality. There are also model sounds as well as side and palate pictures available showing how each sound is produced.

You have a choice between correct, incorrect, and approximation when tracking the client; a normal or silly sound can be made with this choice or no sound if desired. The app auto advances to the next card after the choice, but you can swipe forward or backwards. Data from each session is saved into summary page and this combined data can be emailed. While using the flashcards correct, incorrect, and approximation totals are tracked, but when you finish and go to the summary page the data is separated into the different sounds and positions. The overall total is not available in the summary page. I find this annoying when making my session notes. If I want to report on the combined sounds (e.g., velars or final consonants), I have to add it all together again. It is nice to have the summary, but I have found it sometimes difficult to work with this long list of data.

This app does have a few problems. Most of these are typos within the sentence level flashcards, but some of the model sounds don’t work well either. I have contacted the company multiple times over the past year about these problems. They have thanked me for the emails, saying they would work on them, but I haven’t seen any changes. My latest email to Pocket SLP, detailing all the typos, can be seen here.

Synapse Apps recently upped the price of their Kindle Tablet version available on Amazon from $4.99 to $14.99. This version only works on Kindle Tablets. Pocket SLP newsletter frequently advertises that all their apps are under $5.00, which is true for their apps on iTunes. The app has a lot to offer for $14.99, but I feel like this price is inflated when I look at their stuff in iTunes.

QuickArtic

Quick Artic

Quick Artic is a very basic flashcard app with high quality photos. The flashcards are separated into final, initial, and medial of the phonemes “ch”, “f”, “g”, “k”, “l”, “r”, “s”, “sh”, and “z”. It also has medial “th”, initial voiceless “th”, as well as the blends “f”, “fl”, “fr”, “g”, “gl”, “gr”, “kr”, “sk”, “sm”, and “sn”. Only one set can be used at a time. Data is kept by clicking “Correct” or “Wrong”, but the data isn’t saved when you exit the set. The cards have to be manually changed. The app is free after you register on the developers website and login when you open the app for the first time.

SlyF-V

Sly F & V

Sly F & V has auto advancing cards and email options like PocketSLP-Articulation. It doesn’t have an approximation button or save each session’s data into a summary page. The app has initial, medial, and final sets for both /f/ and /v/. Only one set can be used at a time. Each flashcard has a picture (not photo), written target word, and sentence. The pictures are not the highest quality, but they are not terrible either. This app is the only one of three that has a voice recording of each target word (if card is tapped). You have a choice between correct and incorrect. Swiping to another card is not available. The emailed results include a total score and a chart showing whether each target word was correct or incorrect. Sly F & V is SlySpeechApps’ only free app, but they have 11 other speech apps ranging from $3.99 to $29.99. The developer’s articulation screening, apraxia, and final consonant deletion apps look promising, but I haven’t had a chance to try them yet.

Overall Impressions

All of these apps sized properly on both my phone and tablet. None of them store on SD cards or track multiple students at the same time. Currently, I find myself working on more than one sound at a time, targeting phonological processes with my younger students. Pocket SLP – Articulation has worked well for this, but I find its data summary cumbersome. It is currently the only one of the three that is available on Amazon.  SlySpeechApps’ pictures are not as good as the other articulation flashcard apps, but its data summary is superior.  I recommend Quick Artic for any novice app users, SlySpeechApps for slps who work with one sound and position at a time, and Pocket SLP for slps who work on multiple sounds and positions at a time (e.g., phonological processes).

Amazon App of the Day: Counting with the Very Hungry Caterpillar

Catterpillar

Amazon’s free app of the day is Counting with the Very Hungry Caterpillar. This app works on counting, vocabulary, quantity, and addition within five levels.  Kids are asked to select the food items  that the very hungry caterpillar eats within the story, quantities are of the food items are also targeted (e.g., “Please eat two apples”).  I tested this app and  would recommend it to speech language pathologists and parents with preschool and early elementary kids working on labeling food and quantities.

The Amazon Appstore can be downloaded on almost any Android Device.  Find out how to install it here.

Auditory Analysis

AuditoryAnalysis

Name Auditory Analysis (USA Version)
Creator Talking Talk
Marketplace Google Play & Amazon Appstore
Category Phonological Awareness
Price $   4.99
MB 33.1
Operating System 2.3.3
SD Card Yes
My Rating 5/5

Auditory Analysis is one of the more interesting and engaging apps I am using in speech therapy.   It uses the built in microphones (in phones and most tablets) to record and repeat audio clips. This allows students to compare their answers to the target answer then choose if they got it correct or not.   All of the students I have tried this with love this feature. They enjoy the ability to hear themselves.  My students also like the two fun games which can be used as rewards.   It has worked well with groups of students or a student using it by himself.

This app works on phonological awareness in 7 different levels: omitting part of compound words, omitting part of a two syllable words, omitting the initial phonemes, omitting the final phonemes, substituting initial or final phonemes, omitting part of consonant blends, and substituting part of consonant blends.  The data is tracked and can be emailed.

This app is currently only available on Android devices. The creator has made a video. Check it out here:

Android Battery Saver Apps

     GreenPower Premium  JuiceDefender - Battery Saver
Name Easy Battery Saver GreenPower Juice Defender – Battery Saver
Marketplace Google Play Google Play; Amazon Appstore Google Play; Amazon Appstore (not with Fire)
Price Free Free/$2.90 Free (Paid Version not Tested)
MB 1.7 2.4 1.8
Operating System 2.0 or higher 2.1 or higher 2.1 or higher
SD Card Yes Yes Yes
My Rating 3/5 4/5 3/5

Is your android phone or tablet dying in the middle of a therapy session or do you have to keep it plugged in all the time?  I would recommend trying a battery saver app. With a good app and the right setting, I have nearly doubled my the battery life of my phone and tablet from a little over 1 day to 2 days.  There are a lot to choose from but a lot of apps that just display battery information show up while searching.  Some don’t work well; one  says it is a battery saver but appears to just collects your search data.  Battery Saver [2x Battery] says it’s a placebo and doesn’t boost battery life in it’s description, but has almost 5 stars with over 12,000 reviews.  Many of the reviews say it improves battery life!

There are some that actually do improve battery life by helping you control your data, wifi, display etc.  I used Easy Battery Saver for about a year. It worked well but the ads got very annoying. They got so bothersome I had to uninstall it. I tried a few others.  A major feature, I wanted was quick access to turn on/off my data of my 2.3 Android phone.  Easy Battery Saver data toggle worked well on my phone.  Juice Defender’s data toggle did not work on my phone.  Juice Defender worked ok on my Tablet, but I wasn’t impressed enough to try a paid version of it.  My battery life was a little better than without it, but not as much as I hoped.

Last month I switched to GreenPower Premium after trying the free version.  It has worked well on both my tablet and phone, but has taken some time to tweak to my desired settings.  The data/wifi toggle works well. After getting the setting adjusted, both my tablet and phone now can last about 2 days.  GreenPower also works on the Kindle Fire.  I have noticed a significant increase in data usage with GreenPower (in comparison to Easy Battery Saver).  I am guessing that this is because GreenPower is allowing my phone to check my emails with much greater frequency.    If you don’t mind paying for an app,  I recommend GreenPower Premium. If you want a free app try Easy Battery Saver, but you have been warned of the ads!

Autism iHelp – Play

Name
Developer
Price
Free
MB
18.4
Type General
Language
Type Specific
Vocabulary
Operating System
2.2 or higher
SD Card
No
My Rating
««¶¶¶ (2/5)

Autism iHelp – Play is another Android App that the start screen is not sizing properly on most of my devices.  This app was tested on a LG DoublePlay, Lenovo A1, and Kindle Fire (1st Generation).  The start screen only sized properly on the Kindle Fire. Access to games and options in cut off on my tablet and only the toys and outdoor activities are accessible on my phone.  Besides this major drawback this app works well.  It provides flashcards with good pictures and voice output (which can be turned off if the options can be accessed).

The games feature is nice. It’s too bad it only worked on the Kindle Fire.   It is a multiple choice game for labeling pictures where the audio is optional.

Email to Pocket SLP

Below is my Email to Pocket SLP
Dear PocketSLP,
I am enjoying your speech therapy apps for android devices.  I have a tablet and phone and am using both your Pocket SLP Articulation, and Little Jude Sky 1 apps.  I like them both, but have a few suggestions for improvement.  Many android apps let you store most of the app on the SD card.  Both your apps are over 20 MB. Please give your apps this feature, because I am running out of space on my tablet.
The Pocket SLP Articulation app works great on both my tablet and phone. It is by far the best articulation app I have found.  There are a few mistakes/glitches I have noticed while using the sentences feature though.  There are no sentences for ‘z’.  It just goes to the word level for both the word and sentence level.  
Some sentences aren’t really sentences.
  • One thousand kids.
  • The smoking volcano.  
  • The number four.
  • The number five.
  • A smoking volcano.
  • The number seven.

There are a few capital letter mistakes.
  • Look at the Chalk stick. (C)
  • The Orange is good. (O)
  • The Gorilla is mad. (G)
  • I bought some Art today. (A)
  • We went to oregon state. (o)

One sentence is missing an apostrophe.
  • The kitten lost its mittens. (it’s)

Two sentence missing a letter.
  • The went north yesterday.  (They?)
  • Buy some tomatos. (tomatoes)

One sentence missing a period.
  • Game starts with G(.)

The start screen in Little Jude Sky’s Very Strange Day Pt. 1 isn’t sized properly on my Lenovo A1 or my phone. “I can read” is hidden behind the “Cancel” and “Read” buttons on the tablet and completely inaccessible on my phone.  When the app is run in ‘Read to me’ mode on my tablet, there is a glitch on the fourth page if ‘window’ is selected for ‘moon’, the app consistently crashes and closes.
I really like your apps.  Fixing these problems and allowing SD card storage will make them even better.
Thanks,
Roger Wagner CCC-SLP

Battery Saver App

I have been on the search for a good battery saver app this week.  I got fed up with the advertisements on Easy Battery Saver. In addition to the annoying ads within the program it has started putting ads in the notifications bar. I decided it was worth the 3 dollars to purchase an app without ads. My favorite feature of Easy Battery Saver was the easy access to turning on and off data, and of course the improved battery performance. Without a battery saver my phone and tablet last about a day and with them at least 2 days. 

So after much deliberation, I decided on GreenPower Premium. I tried the free version (with ads) first. I am happy so far. It has lots of good features. I ended up disabled having it control my Wi-Fi on my phone, so I can use it to quickly disable/enable my data. It can also disable or enable Wi-Fi/data for specific apps and has night options. My battery life is still around 2 days. If ads don’t bother you, I suggest Easy Battery Saver which is free.