The Ev­ery­thing Ma­chine

Ex­plore elec­tron­ics on your iPad

Mac Format - - CONTENTS -

Dig­i­tal toy de­sign­ers tend to cater for younger users; they prob­a­bly pre­sume older ones pre­fer “proper” games. Tiny­bop thinks that’s left a gap, to be filled by The Ev­ery­thing Ma­chine.

You might mis­take this for an ed­u­ca­tional app about ba­sic elec­tron­ics. There are bat­ter­ies, bulbs and beep­ers to con­nect, with logic gates be­tween. Then you spot what else you can hook into your cir­cuits. A cam­era, tilt and mo­tion de­tec­tors, trans­mit­ters and re­ceivers: this app lets you pro­gram your en­tire de­vice.

It’s a scrib­ble pad for bud­ding de­vel­op­ers, with the po­ten­tial to ex­plode your cre­ative world. This isn’t just turn­ing bulbs on and off – you can catch cookie thieves us­ing a light sen­sor, a cam­era and your photo store, or make a de­tec­tor that tells colours apart.

At this point, full of a hun­dred ideas, you and your kids will set to work – and you’ll hit a snag. The ex­am­ples and short man­ual aren’t enough to understand such a pow­er­ful toolkit. Apps for younger kids are sim­ple enough to learn by ex­plor­ing. This isn’t.

It is worth the ef­fort, though. It’s not just the range of things you can build that’s so en­chant­ing – it’s the sat­is­fac­tion of build­ing it your­self.

One of our best creations was a sim­ple sound stu­dio. With some switches and a bank of speed- and pitch-changer tools, we could remix our fa­vorite songs to our heart’s con­tent. We could have done the same with spe­cial­ist soft­ware, but it’s much more grat­i­fy­ing to work with tools of your own making.

Not only will you have fan­tas­tic fun with this app, you may help raise the next gen­er­a­tion of pro­gram­ming won­derkids, too. Matt Thrower This drag and drop pro­gram­ming toolkit has the po­ten­tial for as­ton­ish­ing cre­ativ­ity, but badly needs bet­ter in­struc­tions.

And you thought build­ing your own mixer/synth would be dif­fi­cult…

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