APPen is a brand new line of kids electronic toys and accessories from GPTech, that allows children to enjoy learning, writing and colouring on a tablet. The app is compatible with the majority of android and iOS tablets. Recently, I did have issues when I updated to the latest iOS7 release which caused the app to stop working. So I had to go to Settings, click Privacy, select Microphone and then set the APPen to YES. The app is free to download and it can be used with or without the APPen. The APPen does not require batteries; simply plug it in via the headphone socket of any compatible tablet.
Inside the app, there are three programs:
- Draw and colour: There are a selection of colours, pencils and crayons to draw with and playing with animated stickers! You can save the picture on your tablet.
- Learn: This is where you learn to write the capital letters of the alphabet and record the sound too. There are two difficulty levels and they both require you to stay within the borders.
1. The first one, for beginners, has bigger letters and so you are less likely to make a mistake.
2. The second one has smaller letters so it encourages you to be more accurate. There are some letters which we disagree with in the ordering of the writing strokes. The children also found that the APPen is not sensitive enough to record their writing strokes and therefore it does not get recorded. They may need to fix the bugs on the iPad. There is also an option to learn how to count providing you have the APPen and your profile is 5 years old and above. The counting is quite simple which suits preschool or Reception. For profiles under 5 years old, there is a shape game. A series of images appear on the screen and children will have to match each of them to the corresponding shape on the bottom of the screen.
- Play: Use Appen as a joystick and make a Formula 1 car speed around a race track. It took us a while to understand how to use it as joystick. Simply turn the APPen upside down and press onto the tip to control the speed. Mr K was trying to move the APPen all over the place! There are two levels and up to six laps to race with 1 – 2 players. My children were not very impressed with this game as they didn’t enjoy the controls. There also a Scratch and Guess game to discover what lies beneath the hidden image. This is not very easy to play as the children need to know the words before they can select it. I would said this is more suitable for 6 years and upwards. My 4 year old daughter struggled to scratch the picture and choose the right word within the given time. I personally found it quite challenging too.
The APPen itself is chunky, light and made of plastic. It is easy to hold by a child and has a pressure sensitive nib. It comes with a cap and extra nib. I do find the cap too loose though as it keeps dropping off the APPen. I rate it 3 out of 5. Personally, I love the idea of using a stylus/pen to improve their writing skills. The APPen can also be used as a general stylus on the iPad. The sound quality through the speaker in the APPen is too quiet and unimpressive and sometimes there is some feedback noise too.
Disclosure: We received the sample for the purposes of writing this review, however, all thoughts and opinions remain our own.