Happy Snap

App review by
Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Media
Happy Snap App Poster Image
Mini-missions inspire kids to explore their surroundings.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn to be aware of their surroundings. They'll fine-tune their observational skills as they look for items with particular target characteristics. Kids can use this app to engage in a new way with the world around them.

Ease of Play

The process for taking pictures is super easy, but audio instructions for each picture-finding mission are only given once.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Happy Snap is an augmented reality app that sends kinds on a scavenger hunt to find particular items and take pictures. There are two options -- indoors and outdoors -- each of which sets kids on a mission to find "something green" or "a vegetable." Photo-recognition software gives kids feedback on their choices. Parents will need to allow access to their device's camera, but photos are immediately discarded and so do not end up in the device's camera roll. Because kids are wandering around with a device in their hands, parents may want to ensure that they can do so safely and without dropping the device. The background music can be turned off in the settings menu. Read the developer's very accessible privacy policy for details on how your information is collected and shared.

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What's it about?

HAPPY SNAP takes kids on an adventure to make Snap the camera happy by finding five requested items and taking pictures of them. Choose indoors or outdoors, and then listen closely for the assignment. Photo-recognition software gives feedback on whether kids really did find and take a picture of, for example, something big. After the set of five is completed, kids get stars for the number of objects they successfully photographed and can tap to play again. Photos are not stored anywhere in the app or in the device's camera roll.

Is it any good?

With a small set of super-simple prompts, kids are encouraged to look around their surroundings and interact with their environment. The pictures that kids take do not get saved anywhere, and there's no way to track which adventures kids have completed. The upside to that approach is that Happy Snap is a light, portable app that can be a quick diversion or mini-adventure. The downside is that kids don't get to see what they've "collected" on their scavenger hunts. They also can't compare ideas and photos from one session to the next. Those comparisons could have been particularly interesting because there are a lot of repeat missions, such as finding something green. The missions aren't all that inspired or creative but are easy to fulfill. And the indoor and outdoor options don't seem to be all that different, but it's a nice idea. The photo-recognition software works pretty well but isn't always perfect, so sometimes pictures that do fit the target won't get recognized or photos that don't will fly through. Happy Snap has few bells and whistles, and its missions to closely observe your surroundings can easily be created without the aid of an app. But kids will likely find it delightful to take photos of what they find, and this easily accessible tool creates opportunities for exploration -- so long as parents make sure kids move around safely.with the device.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Happy Snap's photo assignments. Help kids look around their surroundings to find lots of objects that could match the target.

  • Play similar offscreen versions of this scavenger hunt-type game, such as I spy with my little eye.

  • Go out in the backyard or take a walk in a local park and work with your kids to take pictures of interesting things you find. Afterward, use the pictures to tell a story.

App details

For kids who love being outdoors and photography

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