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Continuing in the vein of memorable iOS gimmick apps like iBeer and Tom Cat, SpeakaZoo is part kids app and part parlor trick. As the zookeeper in charge of a whole stable of colorful, crudely animated animals, your sole job is to keep them happy—but not in the usual ways. You won't be feeding or washing them; instead you'll help them work through their various neuroses and idiosyncrasies. But while the wow factor wears off a little too quickly, SpeakaZoo’s chatty characters and childlike charm should be enough to keep your little ones coming back.
Along the way, you'll encounter a depressed bat, narcoleptic bear, and overbearing beaver, all looking to you for assistance. As they describe their tribulations, each animal will pose occasional questions—and it's here where the app gets fun. To answer, you’ll need to tap and hold the microphone button—it's easy enough, but we managed to mess it up a few times—and the character will politely listen until you finish speaking. The app then uses its clever speech-recognition technology to continue the conversation, appropriately responding to what you had to say. It's not perfect, and the interactions have very little effect on the overall script, but SpeakaZoo does a good job of mixing up the patterns and making it seem like you're actually talking to a cartoon.
While your kids will certainly enjoy SpeakaZoo's silliness, we found some of the conversations to be a tad mature for the four-and-up age recommendation—especially when the bat waxed on about drinking blood. Also, we would be remiss if we didn't mention the off-putting login process, which requires you to submit an email address and consent to let ToyTalk record audio of you and your kid. So if you're the paranoid type, you may want to find a different set of cartoon animals for your child to talk to.
The bottom line. SpeakaZoo's colorful cast of characters will keep your kids laughing—assuming they get the joke.
iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 6.0 or later
Cute, vibrant animals. Fun concept will keep your kids entertained. Clever script and speech recognition makes it seem like you’re actually interacting with the characters.
Some topics can be too mature for young children. Login process forces parents to consent to audio recording of their child. Microphone button is somewhat confusing.