Launch date: Nov 13, 2010
Star Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
– Excellent music and sound effects at the right places.
– Nicely rendered 2D illustrations into “3D projections”, camera angle controllable by readers. [Note: the 3D here is not real Avatar 3D, but closer to what Ken Burns does with his “layers” of photos in a scene.]
– Some of the pages have objects for readers to play with. For sure to check out the cannon. (These objects have “physics engines” behind them to allow users to move them around.)
– The initial version of the app has a few bugs that I’ve reported to FlyingWord.
-The app has problems waking up from “sleep” or “auto-lock” modes. Narration fails to restart gracefully. In a few instances, waking up after sleep actually tripped the narration and it got stuck in repeating a word/sound.
– If the reader flip to a page where part of the text in the paragraph is in the previous page, the narration will read from the text in the previous page. This result can be very confusing for the readers as they may not know this is the “expected behaviour”. To me, readers may expect when flipping to a new page, the narration will match the text she/he reads on the page.
– Many of the objects are a bit too small and difficult to control.
+ e.g. in the breakfast scene (bottle is ok, but the egg, plate, and sword are difficult to manipulate)
+ in the scene with the apple barrel, the barrel can be easily moved but the apples are not controllable even though the readers will likely spend time to try to move it. It may be more enjoyable if the apples are made bigger and controllable by readers like the barrel.
– This one is technical. Currently, the space outside of the edges of the 2D to 3D projections are blank (set to black space). I think it will look nicer and gives a more immersive experience if the whole background are filled and readers won’t see black space around the edges of the original 2D frames.
As discussed in the Pros section, the narration is lively and very engaging and I really love it. At the same time, the app may have been a bit ambitious in using the full-length original Treasure Island in its launch version. The good news is that an abridged free update will be released in a few weeks after the initial launch. To me, the abridged version with shorter audio (~1.5 hour long) and text will be a nicer fit for kids who will appreciate the physics engines games and 2D-to-3D effects more.
To write this review, I also found and checked out a LibriVox free audio book version of Treasure Island on the app store and it has the original text and the audio is reasonably good but definitely not as exciting/engaging as FlyingWord‘s version.