Sunday, May 6, 2012

Apps We Love: “Gube” and “TeleTweet” by Shacked Apps

Every once in a while a product comes along that’s a game changer. I can’t imagine life without my cellphone, the gps for my car, my laptop, or my iPad. And now, I can’t imagine life without Gube.

Gube is an app from Shacked Apps that acts as a safe YouTube portal for kids. It’s smack-my-forehead simple and extremely well thought out. Shacked advertises this as “Kid Safe YouTube” and that’s what it delivers. In a nutshell, when you download the app, you can easily scroll through a selection of YouTube videos, access them with a quick tap, and you’re up and playing. But what you’re looking at is a catalogue of over 3,000 (and counting) parent-screened videos that can be further filtered according to age range, from infant, toddler, pre-school, to school-age. If your kids can navigate an iPhone or iPad, they’ll be up and surfing.

Here’s another thing I love about Gube: they’ve left off the “comments” portion of the videos, that potential minefield of profanity and sub-links to which our kids should not have access. Gube offers a safe yet exhilarating version of YouTube where kids can explore and enjoy all the glory and nuttiness of YouTube: from the awe-inspiring to the giggles; the meanderings; the silliness; and the intellectual scenic route. At last, kids can experience this. And we don’t have to freak.

Gube features spot-on video curation. Yesterday, my little girl found a video on Angel Falls in South America. It was spectacular. Add to that an adorable animated sing-along of the classic “Monkeys On the Bed”; then a behind-the-scenes video from the producers of the popular show Ni Hao Kai-Lan that interviewed the children who voice the popular characters. Round it out with a stand-alone video from Alvin and the Chipmunks as well as an excerpt from Disney’s Aladdin where Aladdin and Jasmine sing “A Whole New World” in German. Awesome.

Gube allows users to create their own list of favorites; or browse videos hand selected by their staff. You can see a history of all videos your kids played. And feel free to suggest videos for their ever-growing list. The Internet really is a wonderful window on the world; or at least it CAN be. Gube allows our kids to experience a piece of that on their own terms. The exploration is fun; and the discoveries can be amazing. And in honor of Mother’s Day, Shacked is offering Gube for $0.99 instead of the usual $3.99. The offer runs from Friday May 11 through Sunday May 13. I’d jump on it.

Another Shacked app I love is TeleTweet. It’s not for everyone, but it’s so unique and so beautiful, I just have to share. If your tween or teen is one of those people who loves to learn for its own sake, TeleTweet may be right up your street. It’s an app that turns your iPhone into a telegraph key, meaning by tapping the authentic-looking knob (with one finger yet) you can type tweets. Now, you have to learn Morse Code to use this, but I can imagine TeleTweet launching countless school projects on early communications. And any self-respecting steampunk aficionado will love the design of this app. Since early telegrapher and Morse Code expert Thomas Edison is a personal hero of mine, this app holds endless appeal for me. When you receive a tweet, it scrolls out of an Edison Ticker Tape Machine. I may swoon.

Review Summary:
App Name: Gube
Category: Education
Age Level: 4+
Updated: February 17, 2012
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.Requires iOS 5.0 or later.
Price: $3.99 but on sale for $0.99 from May 11th through May 13th.
Bottom Line: It will quickly become a necessity in your kid’s life.

App Name: TeleTweet
Category: Utilities
Age Level: 4+
Updated: April 12, 2012
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation) and iPad.Requires iOS 5.0 or later.
Price: $0.99.
Bottom Line: Not a necessity; but a tool from the past that many may find fun and handy.

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