Review: Eli Explorer iPhone / iPad app from Colto

Disclosure: This product was given to me free of charge by Colto to be reviewed, and I have also received a fee for my time. However, as per my PR info disclaimer, this review is my unbiased honest opinion of the product.

Colto_logo_143x59Product: Eli Explorer iPhone / iPad app from Colto

Price: £1.49 (universal app)

Age Range: 2-5 years

Manufacturer’s Description: Kids will laugh out loud as they discover their first 100 words and phrases and learn their meaning and correct pronunciation in 10 different languages! Created by early childhood experts and recommended by teachers, this app is designed to encourage kids to explore while learning their first words in a safe, interactive world free from levels and rules.

Guide Eli as he flies around our magical game environment to uncover hidden surprises in a forest, on mountaintops and inside his home. Dive into a cave and listen to a monster band, ask for a glass of milk at the monkey tree bar and make new friends on the way!

Rating:  (4/5 stars)

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Review: Georgie has been playing with this app on and off for a few weeks now, and definitely enjoys it. Eli Explorer is a “free roam” style app, where children can direct Eli to go wherever they wish, as he interacts with his environment, and speaks the names of things seen on screen.

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Eli Explorer has 100 common words and phrases from 10 different languages, which allows your child to expand both their native and foreign language vocabulary. Georgie knows pretty much all of the words/phrases included in English, but has been enjoying playing the game in all of the other included languages. She will quite often repeat a phrase or word after it is spoken in the game.

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When the app launches, you go to the main start screen, where three actions are available; parents area, game audio selection, and a start button. The parents area is a simple info screen where you can find out more about the game, including tips on how to play & the option to sign up to Colto’s mailing list. The game audio selection option is a pop up with flags representing each different language.

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Both the parents screen & the audio selection option are hidden behind one of these child proof barriers – i.e. swipe one finger left to continue. We actually found this to be a disadvantage and Georgie was enjoying switching between the different languages and the barrier preventing her from doing this.

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It would be nice if there was an option in the settings menu to turn this off in order to allow your child to change the language themselves – which would allow some parents to choose for it still to be inaccessible to a child. Even better, it would be great if you could change it mid-game, to allow easy repeat of the same action (and therefore, same word) in the different languages.

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The game itself is fairly intuitive for children to control; they move Eli around by dragging him with a finger on the touch screen, and then when they are near to interactive areas a star appears. Dragging Eli onto the stars triggers a small action sequence and one the words/phrases to be spoken.

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Although the animation does have some room for improvement, the action sequences are quite fun and the Eli character is fairly cute, with some amusing facial expressions. Georgie definitely enjoys moving him around in his environment and getting him to interact with everything, and finds the whole thing quite entertaining. She soaks up information so the language educational side of this app is right up her street.

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It would be great if they could add subtitles to this app as well; perhaps in both the user’s native language and in the language currently selected (if different) – allowing parents playing with their child to help their child by translating the word for them, or to help kids to recognise the letters and written words.

One nice point is there is no advertising or in app subscriptions; both of these things bug me when I find them in kids apps!

We give Eli Explorer 4 stars. It will certainly be sticking around on the kids iPad for the foreseeable future.