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Auryn HD - Where Do Balloons Go? An Uplifting Mystery Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on July 16th, 2012
iPad App - Designed for iPad

Where Do Balloons Go? An Uplifting Mystery is a marvelous iPad adaptation for of the popular title of the same name.

I am familiar with Where Do Balloons Go as this storybook is a favorite that is read at my son’s preschool which tries to answer the question of where do balloons go in ways most whimsical. I can understand why his teachers enjoy this book because it is thoughtfully written, abstract yet age-appropriate and includes an abundance of illustrations for all ages - including adults, who really enjoy this book as well.

This application does a wonderful job of using the iPad to add even more richness to this tale as here, narration, music and interactions are also included.

I appreciate how this application opens up with a short video clip of Jamie Lee Curtis explaining the inspiration of this charming, creative story. I also like the fact that Jamie herself walks readers through the use of this application as some of the functions are different from other apps one may be familiar with, such as the use of tapping to pan over to the right side of the screen which keeping intact double page spreads from this book - not to be confused with simple page turning. Hints can also be offered to help readers make the most of this application. Enjoy Curtis's narration of this appellation which is perfect as one can imagine and includes highlighted text, or turn off the narration and read this book to oneself.

Do tap among these pages that are filled with details to look at as well as to interact with while never becoming distracting - a balancing act that the developers at Auryn have been successful at to great effect.

Another clever interaction is the ability to use a fan to blow the balloons found among these pages around the screen, later using this fan as part of an activity where one matches the balloon to the rightful owner - a fun moment that I am sure has just the right level of difficulty for children.

I also have enjoyed a great deal some of the moments from this story which are delivered to app users as black and white scenes that are brought to their full color glory with a tap, including details that adults will smile at possibly more than their children will such as a balloon suspensefully flying to the house upon the hill by the Bates Motel or the balloon-centric titles on a movie marquee - wonderful adult choices that make this tale, both as a published storybook and now as an app, such a joy to explore for all ages. Do search this section for other interactive elements best left for one to explore on their own as not to ruin any fun surprises.

I admire how the sense of movement found among the storybook’s pages is here fully realized including a wonderful scene which brings to life the book’s centerfold - a page abundant with dancing balloons, here accompanied with music and a counter to tick off the balloons which start dancing with a tap.

Another nice moment includes the chance to write on and send digital postcards including the cards seen in the book as well as the last page of the printed version - a nice touch.

Other more involved activities which I really like include a chance to make balloon animals by following directions to make a handful of specific animal shapes or to have fun creating one’s own balloon designs. Oddly, however, when I follow along, invariably my animal is upside-down after completion, so I would also love to be able to rotate my creation when complete to view from all angles as well as flipping my animals right side up.

One also has the chance to create constellations in the night’s sky including numbered stars that one taps to connect, creating shapes that are more intricate than found in other apps with this theme. I do wish, however, that there were a choice for these hidden activity triggers to be highlighted along with the other hints offered, as I did not first find the glowing star marking where to tap for this section. Re-watching Jamie Lee Curtis’s section on the use of this app, however, did give me a good idea as to where to look.

There is one more area of this app to mention, Balloon Theatre, allowing one to use fun elements like hat, hair or mouth choices to create characters backstage that are then dragged into the user's choice of two backgrounds - be it night sky or a wonderfully water-colored sky with clouds. Choosing a personal photo to work on from the iPad is also an option. Be aware that dragging the character onto the stage is tricky at first, but with some use this function works nicely as one can record the performance that players create, complete with the recording of sounds as well as the moment the characters cross the screen.

Even with the plentiful amount of interactions, sounds and other sections and elements, the calm, serene and relaxing end of this charming story makes this app a nice tale both for relaxing as well as for a bedtime story telling.

I am sure that fans of this book will be greatly impressed with this application, but rest assured that those not familiar with this story will enjoy it just the same. For these reasons and more, I whole-heartedly recommend this application.

This Week at 148Apps, November 28-December 2

Posted by Chris Kirby on December 5th, 2011

This week at 148Apps.com, writer Carter Dotson reviewed one of the most anticipated iOS games in recent memory - Infinity Blade II. Dotson writes, "Most of what is new here is a modified and extended progression structure. Instead of one path leading to a final boss, where failure means starting over, there are now several of them, with more branching paths to explore. There are 3 different weapon types now: the traditional swords, slow and heavy axes that deal more damage, and speedy dual swords that deal less base damage, but can do double damage once combos are started. The story is more fleshed out, with actual speaking dialogue from characters besides the God King."

Read the full review at 148Apps.com.

Meanwhile, our attention was turned to more artistic matters at GiggleApps, as Amy Solomon reviewed Auryn – Van Gogh and the Sunflowers. Solomon says, "The look of this app is terrific, with illustrations evoking the style that Van Gogh is known for, complete with bold color choices and noticeable use of brush strokes, but maintains a childlike quality that fits well within this storybook. The jazzy music used is also wonderful, relaxing as well as engaging and very enjoyable to listen to even for long periods of time. The narration used here is also quite good. Parents will also like that each spoken word is highlighted red to aid the young children new to the world of reading."

Read more about our take on Auryn – Van Gogh and the Sunflowers at GiggleApps.

Finally, 148Apps.biz site editor Rob Lefebvre reported on tablet users and their media consumption. LeFebvre writes, "In a study put out by comScore and reported by Fierce Mobile Content and the appside, interested parties can see that the number one use of tablet devices is games, with 67% of surveyed tablet users saying they’ve played a game at least once in the past month, as compared to 49% of smartphone users surveyed. 23% of those surveyed said they’d played a game on their tablet EVERY DAY. That’s a good number."

Dig deeper into this study and read the full report on 148Apps.biz.

That's our wrap-up for this week. While you're out getting all of your holiday shopping done, don't forget to check us out on our Facebook and Twitter feeds to find out the latest and greatest news, reviews and contests. Feliz Navidad!

Auryn Ink Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on February 10th, 2011
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Auryn Ink is an interesting app for iPad which simulates watercolor painting, geared to those with an intermediate to high skill level. There are a multitude of options artists can utilize that will bring this experience as close to really painting with watercolors that one can get without paints and paper, my favorites being how the colors blend and overlap like one would find while working with water colors, as well as how gravity affects the paint, having it run if the iPad is tilted. Other options include selecting canvases with different textures which will affect how the paint is applied in terms of paint flow and brush strokes. There is control over bristle patterns and brush strokes as well as the ability to wet and re-wet the canvas at will, and It is always nice to see undo and erase buttons in drawing or painting apps, something not possible to do when painting in real life.

I found that the interface of this app could be easier, but with some practice it became simpler to navigate. I think artists will appreciate this app when it is not convenient to set up paper and watercolors, especially while traveling and it is nice that one can email finished pieces, but I would also like to be able to save a painting as to go back and finish at another time and the resolution could also be better. This app is also not very sensitive, sometimes having to go over an area more than once for the brush stroke to register. I do think this would be enjoyed by artists who understand this apps limitations, enjoying the ability to paint anywhere they would like with no clean-up.