Robert Louis Stevenson 160th Birthday – Treasure Island FlyingWord iPad app

Friday, 12 November, 2010

FlyingWord - Treasure Island - pix 1

Thanks to Google, we learned that today is the 160th birthday of Robert Louis Stevenson.

Well, as it happened, a few days ago, I posted my FlyingWord Treasure Island iPad app review and my interview with Joe Weber FlyingWord CEO about their Treasure Island iPad app. Check them out.

Nov 15 Update: Here is a link to the Treasure Island app on iTune.


Joe Weber FlyingWord CEO interview – “Treasure Island” iPad app

Tuesday, 9 November, 2010

FlyingWord - Treasure Island - pix 2

The following are video clips of my Skype video interview with Joe Weber, CEO and co-founder of FlyingWord, to talk about their Treasure Island iPad app based on the classic Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. (beautifully narrated for about 7 hours)

Also check out my FlyingWord “Treasure Island” iPad app review.

Here are part 1 of my interview with Joe.

Part 2

Part 3

Here is a promotional clip of FlyingWord’s Treasure Island,


iPad app review: FlyingWord’s “Treasure Island”

Tuesday, 9 November, 2010

FlyingWord - Treasure Island - pix 1

The following is a review of the pre-release version of FlyingWord Treasure Island iPad app. And I will post my video interview with Joe Weber, CEO and co-founder of FlyingWord, later.

***

Apple iPad app: “Treasure Island” by FlyingWord based on the classic Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Price: $7.99

Launch date: Nov 13, 2010

Promotional clip of FlyingWord’s Treasure Island

Star Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Pros

- Lively and very engaging narration of the original full-length classic Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. (beautifully narrated for about 7 hours)

- Excellent music and sound effects at the right places.

- Historical original Treasure Island illustrations by N. C. Wyeth and Walter Paget.

- 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.)

Cons

- 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.

Comments:

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.

FlyingWord - Treasure Island - pix 2

Coming Soon

FlyingWord‘s next book is ‘Twas the night before Christmas (tentative price: about $4.99).


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