Color Vacuum

App review by
Dana Anderson, Common Sense Media
Color Vacuum App Poster Image
Cool concept, confusing directions in color-collecting app.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn how red, blue, and green combine at different ratios to produce other colors, as well as discover the different levels of luminosity in objects with Color Vacuum. These explorations can help kids conceptualize real-world ratios. They illustrate that ratios are found in many more places than math problems and baking recipes; ratios in color affect how things look and how artists can change images in painting or photography by focusing on them. This app would be much more effective with a revamp of the text-heavy instructions for the modes of play. Kid-friendly explanations would help kids grasp concepts more easily. 

Ease of Play

Playing around on Color Vacuum is very easy; it encourages kids to free-play and make up their own games. But the app gives very few instructions up front, and the ones that it does give within the three different modes of play are text-heavy and appear and disappear on the screen in a set amount of time. Young kids probably won't understand the concepts introduced here of luminosity and the "additive color system" unless an adult explains.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Color Vacuum is a whimsical art education app that uses your mobile device's camera as a "color collector." If kids just free-play on this app, it can be fun to see the various colors that are "picked up" from the objects they see around them. Unfortunately, the app's modes and instructions can be confusing and frustrating for kids who want to know what each dial and button on the screen means. 

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What's it about?

Color Vacuum encourages kids to use a machine to "pick up" and collect colors in their surroundings. Kids see how red, blue, and green combine at different ratios to produce other colors, as well as discover their different levels of luminosity. Focus your mobile device's camera on a color in an object, and the color appears as a bubble on the app. Three vials show how much of each of the three colors is in the object's color, and lights represent its luminosity. Three modes offer slightly different methods of play.

Is it any good?

Young kids probably won't understand some of the concepts introduced in COLOR VACUUM unless an adult explains them. This doesn't mean, however, that they can't learn a lot about color through the simple free-play fun of collecting colors. The opening instructions provide a fun story, but aren't clear as far as directions. The directions given within the three different modes of play are not child-friendly and will also need adult guidance. Color Vacuum would be glowingly improved by better explanations, instructions, and labels on the device parts.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Get some real paints and play with combining colors on paper plates.

  • Read the instructions on this app for younger kids and interpret the concepts in age-appropriate language.

  • Challenge your kid to find the maximum 25 colors.

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