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Families who are separated by physical distance can use this free app to bond over sharing a book or playing a game shown on a shared screen during an in-app video conference.
The Bottom Line
This is a free way to share two books and one game during an in-app video conference that is easy to set up, using WiFi or cellular.

How to Use This App

Developed by a pair of grandparents who were frustrated by not being able to keep their grandchildren's attention over Skype, this app creates a platform on which family members share books and games while participating in a real-time video call. Kids see their relative in the video chat box in the upper left corner, while the screen fills with either a book or a game to explore together.

What You Get for Free

You get two books and one game (Rock, Paper, Scissors) for free. But the platform has over 50 books that range in price from $.99 to $10.99. You don't pay for a subscription; rather you buy books (or games) as you see fit.

App Analysis

This app is simple to set up (both parties simply download the free app), and it works by using either WiFi or a cellular connection. This iPad to iPad connection lets either party share content -- only one party needs to have the book to share.

The books in this library come from a variety of publishers. Those published by ustyme and Storybook Anytime are reasonably priced at $.99 to $1.99; and they include traditional fairy tales (told without violence) and fables. However, the ones recently added from publisher Blue Apple Books, seem unduly expensive, costing as much as $10.99. Luckily, you can pick and choose as you go along. Families can also purchase five other games: Checkers, Chess, 4 in a Row, Go Fish and Memory. The gaming interface is a little hard for kids to understand; so parents may need to explain it to them.
While adults may miss the second video screen that lets them see themselves, its absence is purposeful. The founders didn't want kids to be distracted watching their own antics; rather they wanted them to focus on looking at their relative and reading. The concept of turning books and games from "me" time into "us" time is brilliantly executed in this app.

Best For

Since there is no subscription, families can try this for free and see if it works for them. A plus for this app is that it works over cellular and WiFi situations.

All tech products are judged on a five star scale by looking at the following factors: fun, education, ease of use, value, and technical.

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Released: 1/5/2014
Company: ustyme
Price: FREE
Platforms: Android
Available: Google Play

If you like ustyme ...

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  2. Storytime by Kindoma