Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

The Everything Machine By Tinybop

The Everything Machine By Tinybop

Fall 2016 Mobile Apps
Ages: 7 & Up
Developer: Tinybop
Download Price: $2.99
Platform: iPad

The Everything Machine by Tinybop lives up to its name. This app uses a visual programming environment to let users build machines that can interface with every component of a mobile device and then manipulate, record, transmit, or receive the data. Users can build circuits that are as simple as pressing a switch and turning on a lightbulb, using elements familiar to those who have played with real-life electrical or electronics kits; circuits can be created that are even more fundamental, using the logic gates (AND, OR, NOT, XOR) that are the building blocks of every electrical computer in existence. Users can also access the camera, the microphone, the speaker, the vibration and tilt functions, and the display; there are modules that can modify the camera image as much as any photo-booth app. With only a few dozen components, kids can create almost anything.

The app allows parents to set up multiple accounts, so each child (or grown-up!) has space to work without stepping on someone else's toes. In each new account there is a handful of examples that serve as a basic tutorial. A parent account (in addition to providing editing of user accounts) can access a manual that gives more detail about the components, and further examples and information are available online.

This is one of those rare apps that is genuinely limited only by the imagination of the user. Designed for those ages 7+, the limitless possibilities will make this app appealing even to much older users. We especially had fun sending sound and images between two devices (with one purchase of the app we were able to download it to both a tablet and a phone on the same account) and creating walkie-talkies. More elaborate machines will encourage kids to think logically and consider how the computer sees the circuits. This app can turn anyone into a computer engineer, opening up a world of digital expression.

Emily Crawford   ©2016 Parents' Choice
Emily holds a BSE in electrical engineering and computer science from Duke University and a Master's in computer engineering from Georgia Tech. She is a homeschooling parent and lives with her husband, three children, five cats, and thousands of LEGOs in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Look for this product at:
Available on iTunes

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