Is the iPad Mini a Game Changer for Kids Entertainment?

Posted on November 11, 2012 | No Comments

This weekend, I went to look at the iPad Mini at my local Apple Store. Three tables on display, each with about eight new devices for everyone to check out… but each brand new iPad Mini was being used – very enthusiastically – by children aged between six and eight years old. It took about 10 minutes (when one parent dragged their child away) before I could pick one up – talk about stealing candy from a baby.

The way these kids played on the iPad mini was different from what I’ve observed with the traditional iPad. The 7.9” screensize and lighter weight (53% lighter than the traditional iPad) enabled their small hands to pick up the device and really engage with the screen.

What does this mean for your projects?

We Have an iPad App already – do we need to reconfigure it for the mini?
Luckily, not right now. I would recommend getting your hands on a Mini to see how well your game plays. You may want to consider some minor adjustments to take advantage of how players approach and use the smaller screen size, but won’t need a full re-do.

And be sure to ramp up your app promotions around and just after the Holiday season, when this device becomes the hot gift of the season and parents or kids want to use up their gift certificates on your app.

We’re thinking of building an iPad app – what’s different?
Since little ones are more easily picking up this device to play, your designers and usability experts may want to take advantage of the lower or midscreen side navigation so thumbs can easily direct the gameplay, and your developers will definitely want explore the accelerometer to bring enhanced movement and activity in your game. Observing youth with an iPad mini, they were picking it up, shifting it from side to side – really engaged with the device. Whereas with the traditional iPad, many kids play with this while it’s sitting on a table or on their lap.

Keep in mind this release of the Mini doesn’t feature retina display, meaning your app won’t be in HD. Just something to consider long-term as you may need to invest in an upgrade once the iPad Mini with retina display eventually comes along.

It’s still early days, but it feels like this device was made for kids. What do you guys think of the iPad mini? Is it a game-changer… literally?

Building an app for your TV Show

Posted on July 22, 2011 | No Comments

This one-hour video highlights how some television companies sync their TV content with apps downloaded on a mobile. If you don’t have time to watch it right now, I’ve got some highlights below, and a tip on how to make it work for your audience:

The most popular new app technology that syncs a handheld with a TV show is Nielsen’s Media Sync. This technology created buzz last February when ABC launched its Grey’s Anatomy app, where users were encouraged to open the app while watching the episode.

How it works

Using Nielsen’ audio watermark, which embeds audio triggers throughout a TV show to gather Nielsen television ratings, show content can be picked up by the microphones on smartphones to launch episode-specific activities, such as behind the scene footage, polls, and other additional content.

The video above shows two different examples of the application, and it does present a lot of opportunities to allow your audience to easily interact with the content, which is important because Yahoo! reported in January 2011 that 86% use their mobile while watching television.

How to Make this Work for Your TV Show

To make an app like this work with your TV show means considering the user experience and providing value for the interactivity.

This type of application seems like a natural fit for sporting events or live reality shows, but what can be accomplished to engage the user of a dramatic series like Grey’s Anatomy beyond providing trivia and poll questions?

As this technology grows, content creators and TV producers need to understand how the content they put into this application will be used by the user, and identify what will make their viewers want to participate each time the show is broadcast.

Producers and broadcasters must also be willing to admit when this type of interactivity may not be a natural fit for their TV program. To maximize this potential (or recognize its usefulness early), it’s important to consider the content implications during the development and scriptwriting phase, in order to properly exploit its opportunities. By engaging in this technology at the earliest stage, there are opportunities to create your own audio watermarks to make the audience do something with their iPad and create a truly interactive experience.

Repurposing Radio into Animation

Posted on August 25, 2010 | 2 Comments'

One of the many blogs I follow pointed me to this series, which some American readers may already know: StoryCorps. For the past seven years, the indie, non-profit series has recorded 30,000 interviews from Americans who wish to share their story.

The series is a great multiplatform story with podcasts, email subscription, a few books, an iPhone app, a Twitter account – and they travel across the U.S. to help people record their stories.

Recently, some of the most popular stories have been turned into original animated shorts. I really enjoyed watching the Danny & Annie animation unfold because it captured raw emotion. Then again, this was the first time I heard the story – and it’s fantastically told.

Earlier this year when I tried to watch The Ricky Gervais Show, which is animated episodes of his hilarious podcast, I found my eyes wandering away from the screen. I had listened to the audio beforehand and created an image that didn’t necessarily correspond with the animators vision.

Repurposed content doesn’t have to match a vision perfectly in order for something to grab my attention, but I felt disappointed – like when you go see a movie based on your favourite book. The animation didn’t add anything to the story.

So, I did an experiment – I listened to StoryCorps next animated short – Q & A – without watching the video… only audio. Afterwards, I watched the animation to see how it affected my enjoyment of the story.

Do me a favour. Do the same. And if you want, tell me what experience you had. Is it like listening to your favourite song and then watching a disappointing video? Or did the animation make you listen to certain elements you may have missed in your original listen?