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Noisy Book

App review by
Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Media
Noisy Book App Poster Image
Voice recognition brings sound to your stories -- sometimes.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn to express themselves through storytelling. They'll also practice speaking clearly and reading out loud. Reluctant readers may be enticed by the involvement of tech.

Ease of Play

Response time lags sometimes and the menu can be a bit confusing.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

If kids try to save more than one story, they are invited to purchase unlimited saving capabilities for $.99

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Noisy Book uses voice recognition software to insert sound effects and other features into a story as you read out loud. As kids or parents talk or read a story, they can watch the background colors change and listen for sound effects like animal noises or music. To do this, you'll need to allow access to your microphone and consent to your speech data being sent to Apple. Despite that, Noisy Book claims that it stores all the audio it collects locally on your device only and does not send out any data. The app can be set to transcribe stories from up to seven languages including English, Spanish, and Chinese. Noisy Book works best on newer devices: iPhone 7 and above or iPad 3 and above. The free version allows kids to save one story and export it as a PDF. A $.99 in app purchase lets kids save as many stories as they want. Read the developer's privacy policy for details on how your (or your kids') information is collected, used, and shared and any choices you may have in the matter, and note that privacy policies and terms of service frequently change.

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What's it about?

Allow NOISY BOOK to access your microphone and speech recognition capabilities. Then, tap the screen and start reading. You or your kids can read from a book or make up your own story. As your words are transcribed, some words trigger sound effects (e.g., animal noises, music) or visual effects (e.g., colored confetti. Finish a story by saying "the end." Tap on the quiz option to answer some automatically generated questions about your story. Save the transcribed story to look at it again later and export it as a PDF.

Is it any good?

This app offers an idea that may appeal to some families but doesn't work well enough to satify them. New advances in voice recognition get developers really excited, though it's less clear if the technology works well or makes sense for families yet. In some ways, the idea is interesting: enrich your stories with sound and visual effects to make story time an immersive experience and enhance the stories that kids make up on their own. And, when it's working well, that can be what it feels like. Unfortunately the transcription often lags far behind your natural pace of reading so the effects come in too late. And, only some words have associated effects, so you have to choose your stories and words carefully to match what's available (hint: animals, weather, and transportation are good themes). It's nice to save the stories, but is incredibly disappointing that all you can save is a print copy of your transcribed words. There's no way to go back and hear the story again, or re-read that same story to get the sound effects going again. On the other hand, some families may wonder why they need a screen to enhance story time. Isn't the power of the imagination what reading stories is all about? For those families, Noisy Book may feel like yet another way that technology is creeping into everything that we do.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the stories they tell to Noisy Book. Get involved in choosing book from your library or making up your own stories and have fun discovering all the sound effects together.

  • Make your own sound effects. As you read a story, pause to make animal sounds or transportation noises. Encourage your kids to do it with you.

  • Noisy Book introduces a screen to an otherwise screen free activity. Talk to your kids about your family's expectations and guidelines regarding screen time.

App details

  • Devices: iPhone, iPad
  • Subjects: Language & Reading: speaking, storytelling
  • Skills: Tech Skills: using and applying technology
  • Price: Free
  • Pricing structure: Free (free version allows users to save one story; purchase unlimited storage through $.99. in-app purchase)
  • Release date: September 27, 2019
  • Category: Books
  • Size: 242.50 MB
  • Publisher: Lumen Digital
  • Version: 1.0
  • Minimum software requirements: iOS 13.0 or later
  • Last updated: October 18, 2019

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