X is for X-Ray (iPad)

App review by
Liz Panarelli, Common Sense Media
X is for X-Ray (iPad) App Poster Image
Curiosity-boosting peek inside everyday objects.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn what x-ray images of everyday objects look like as they learn one vocabulary word for each letter of the alphabet. Through observing the x-rayed inner workings of each object, kids can learn about engineering, physics, and substance properties. They'll also discover how humorous poetry can be used creatively to make any subject fun while reading important facts and history about the objects. X is for X-Ray is a beautiful way to bring kids to the intersection of reading with science, engineering, and history.

Ease of Play

Very few instructions are provided in this app, so it will take some trial and error for kids to discover they need to swipe to reveal the X-ray photos and double-tap for the prism view. The prism view contains guidance on how to view the images in 3-D. Overall, though, the app is relatively easy to navigate: A table of contents is available on the main page and along the bottom of the screen, users can easily switch between an object's poem and its longer description, and the sounds and images are captured really well on the iPad.

Violence & Scariness

Gunpowder is mentioned, and there's an apocryphal story about warriors using yo-yos, but no actual violence is included.

Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

A link from the credits menu allows users to purchase more apps by the developer. To fully appreciate the 3-D images in the book, most users will need to order prism 3-D glasses from Touch Press for $4.95 plus shipping. More common, polarized 3-D glasses cannot be used.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that X is for X-Ray (iPad) is a beautiful alphabet-book app that contains descriptions and x-ray images of everyday objects. Each of the 26 objects is accompanied by a poem, a sound effect, a description of its history, an explanation of how it works, and a photo. Swiping, tapping, and pinching allow kids to view the photo as an x-ray, make it larger, spin it around for 360-degree viewing, or view it in 3-D (requires the purchase of glasses). There's a fair amount of text in this book, so it's most appropriate for older kids, although younger kids will enjoy the sound effects and images. Some users have expressed difficulty with the app crashing, but we didn't experience that.

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What's it about?

Tap an object -- such as a drum, teddy bear, or toaster -- organized in alphabetical order. The image gets larger, and a poem appears. Tap the speaker icon and hear the poem read. Swipe the object to view 360 degrees around it. Tap it for the x-ray image to appear. Tap the page icon at the bottom of the screen for a detailed written explanation about the object. Don't forget to go all the way to Z for an inside peek at an iPad.

Is it any good?

The x-ray images on X is for X-Ray show density, not the inner workings of objects as you'd see in a book such as David Macaulay's How Things Work. Still, it's a beautiful and engaging app. The text encourages scientific curiosity, particularly by recommending such activities as cooking almond biscotti or using onion juice to write in invisible ink. Sound effects and poems enrich the app for younger kids, and everyone will love the treat at the end: unzipping the zipper to get a peek at an x-ray of an iPad!

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Read the longer bits of informational text with your prereaders.

  • Consider trying one of the extension activities, like making almond biscotti or performing a recommended science experiment.

App details

For kids who love educational apps and games

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