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Wonderscope

App review by
Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Media
Wonderscope App Poster Image
Stories magically unfold all around you with interactive AR.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn about using AR technology. One story introduces kids to three real-life historical figures.

Ease of Play

It's not always easy to position yourself correctly, or to navigate through the story. Kids must also hold the device so as not to block the camera or the microphone.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

Only one story is available with the free download. The others are locked until you make an in-app purchase.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Wonderscope is an augmented reality (AR) experience that gets kids moving around and talking as a story unfolds right where they are. The app needs permission to access your device's camera and microphone though nothing is ever recorded. Kids watch as, through their screen, animated characters talk and move through scenery that's layered on top of kids' actual environment. In order to work properly, kids need to be in a well-lit, uncluttered area. Parents will also want to make sure that kids can move around safely with their device so as not to hurt themselves or the device. At certain points, kids read their side of a scripted conversation to keep the story going. One story, about three real-life daredevils, is available for free. An additional story, Little Red the Inventor, costs $4.99 and more are in development. At times, Little Red the Inventor can be scary; particularly with the AR aspect, sensitive kids may need some support. Wonderscope is not compatible with older devices; check the list to see if yours is new enough. 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?

An animated blob named "Blob" helps kids set up their device for WONDERSCOPE. You'll need to grant permission to access both the camera and microphone, which needs to be turned on with volume at the max. When you tap on one of the stories, Blob helps you find a well-lit clear location to land the story "pod." Then, watch as characters jump out and scenery unfolds on top of your chosen location. Move the device around to follow the action and when prompted, tap objects on the screen or say your lines out loud to converse with the characters.  

Is it any good?

It feels almost magical to watch as suddenly animated characters and scenery pop up all around you as part of two engaging stories. The developers of Wonderscope gave good thought to many details, including lovely graphics, great voice acting, and nice functions like re-sizing and rotating the story pod. Getting through the story is not always a smooth process however. Depending on how clearly kids enunciate their words, for instance, the app may not recognize that kids have read their part (though there is an option to skip reading out loud). And, depending on how much kids move around, the story pod may lose its place in the room or kids may have trouble finding the action. At the time of this review, there were only two stories available. Little Red the Inventor is the more interesting and interactive of the two. Though since nothing changes in the stories, once kids have gone through them once or twice, there's not much to interest kids in a repeat visit. Yet, with its use of AR, Wonderscope provides a unique, and mostly well-designed, experience for kids.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the AR aspects change how kids experience the stories in Wonderscope. What does it feel like to watch the story happen all around you? Does it make it more interesting? Why or why not?

  • Discuss the characters in Little Red the Inventor. Was it safe to tell the wolf that grandma's house was the yellow one? Why did the wolf call Little Red a delicate flower? How did Little Red prove him wrong?

  • If kids were inspired by the daredevil stories in the free introductory story, help them find out more about the people profiled. Go to the library or search the internet to find out more about them.

App details

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