I wonder how parents do it. I mostly dine in silence, amongst leafy arbors at the local brick-lined Bohemian joint, slowly flipping pages of the latest New Yorker, and find myself wrinkling my brow at the slightest wail from a child across the street, from what surely, I surmise, is some denied this-or-that or dropped food item of unreliable origin. The mother seemingly sags under that familiar cry of need, of attention, of want, and to stop the public demonstration and possibly remonstration she scoops the crying child in her arms, softly coos the last coos from her breath and jingles a toy in the hopes of sweetly pacifying. Other times, children are the apple of their parent’s eyes, pint-sized miracles of aching cuteness and cherubic smiles, just-grown ringlets and peaceful slumber. There is always a toy at hand.
It’s not often I walk the near bankrupt aisles of Toys R Us, a smoldering figment of mid 1990’s affluency, post F.A.O Schwartz, post KB Toys, but I do know toys of all kinds and sizes still line the aisles in quantity, and kids still run up and down the corridors, no doubt grabbing the latest and greatest of the Transformer toys or the noisiest, silliest, most outrageous – and most expensive – toy conceivable. Yet, for small children, the most interactive toys are the simplest – ones that make noise accompanied by loud colors, replete with animal, musical, and just plain cheerful themes.
Mantaray Creative understood this simplicity in distracting a child from otherwise disrupting behavior, and utilizes the small and portable – and thankfully, fairly indestructible – iPhone as the toy. iBabyBuddy was inspired by the aforementioned experiences with children, when little Bobby is fussy and whiny, in need of attention, and when expensive toys are carelessly tossed aside, boring from the get-go. The app is designed to entertain, stimulate, and teach children through the simple interaction with and discovery of sounds produced by animals, musical instruments, and what Mantaray calls “whimsical toy sounds.”
iBabyBuddy is brilliantly and festively colored – bright blues and yellows, reds and greens all draw in the eye – and the drawings are easily recognizable, with the animal pictures being fairly detailed for being so cartoon-y. There are three pages, one each for the themes of animal, musical instruments, and whimsical toy sounds, and you may navigate either by sliding your finger from side to side or by shaking the iPhone to “shake-n-change” the page. Each of the six images per page act as interactive buttons, so your child may tap them one at a time or in wild succession, a cacauphony of elephant trumpets and cow moos, all to his delight.
The drawings will highlight and change animation once tapped, and each sound corresponds with the picture at hand: the chimp ooo ooo aahhh aahhs, the elephant trumpets, the frog croaks, the acoustic guitar twangs, the cymbals crash, the drum beats, and so forth. I was curious to see what sound Mantaray chose for the skunk (I thought, “a skunk, really?”) and was amused when a fart was heard. For the whimsical toy sounds there are various creaks, rattles, boings, squeaks, wagga wagga noises, and the lone cartoonish slip and crash slapstick noise.
Mantaray Creative is so sure of the quality of iBabyBuddy they actually guarantee an “endless array of non-stop, educational fun.” We’ll see how that guarantee plays out when little Timmy finally tires of the turkey gobble gobbling, and tosses your iPhone in the street gutter. Oh, that Timmy. But for only $1.99, iBabyBuddy offers what most $20 noise-making toys do, and it’s far prettier and far more portable, not to mention it’s less plastic that will end up in your local landfill. When I tested iBabyBuddy on one of my local neighborhood kids, she couldn’t stop pressing the musical buttons, creating a jarring musical overture not unlike the warm-up cacauphony before a symphony. Most of all, though, she was tickled senseless by the skunk farting, and if Mantaray were really smart, they would just make an app with different animals farting.
iBabyBuddy is an excellent toy for children, and its simple interface only belies Mantaray’s understanding of simple pleasures for simple minds.
For those interested in downloading iBabyBuddy, why not download it for free, our treat, just to bestow you with the gift of entertaining education for your child.
*When using the promotion code to download for free, it’s on a first-come, first-served basis. Out of courtesy, please leave a comment below mentioning you’ve used the promotion code.