Watching somebody who can touch-type shows just how much this skill can help a person's productivity. Animal Typing is designed to support children as they learn how to develop this useful skill for themselves.
Through practice and familiarity, many of us can type at a reasonable speed, but those who have put in the time and effort to learn to touch type put others to shame. Their thoughts can become written words quickly and fluently.
Animal Typing provides the means to develop the skill of touch typing at a young age. It brings to mind music tuition apps in that there is no shortcut to the practice that is required. Those who want to master the skill must earn it. The app provides the feedback on progress and accuracy that would be missing without it and hence can form the basis of learning to touch type.
The app is quite open about the fact that it works best when a Bluetooth keyboard is used in conjunction with the tablet. The screen-based keyboard can be used but without the tactile feedback and size of a physical keyboard, it is not really possible to fully develop the skill. Using the hardware keyboard also gives space to a useful graphical representation of the correct technique.
It is a simple process to connect and use the hardware so teachers could easily set up a lesson quickly. Teachers in languages other than English or who want to teach using a keyboard that is not QWERTY-based are catered for with a wide variety of international options.
The user's progress with each of the many exercises is shown by an animal racing across the screen. Characters to type appear at the top and the player must type them accurately and quickly. Their speed is reflected by a change of animal and players need to strive to be the cheetah. Mistakes are not glossed over. A wrong key press needs to be corrected with the backspace key before progressing - damaging the overall performance at the exercise.
The app looks attractive. It is clearly aimed at children but not excessively so. Children of a wide variety of ages and even adults could use it to develop their typing skills. Each exercise is locked until the previous ones are completed and they split the learning process effectively into logical parts. The second set of lessons goes on to introduce the typing of words and short sentences. The app can link to a Game Center account for competitive use or teachers can allocate up to eight user slots per device. This latter feature is a welcome one as it allows classes with fewer devices than children to use the app on a rotation basis.
A few of the sound effects can be a little irritating. Their relative volumes seem quite variable and the baby crying, in particular, comes through loud and piercing. A little extra processing of the effects or a different selection would have improved this. As it is, teachers should instruct their children to keep the volume low or use headphones.
Many schools place an importance on teaching computing skills but they leave some skills untouched beyond the way that children have naturally evolved them. Typing is one. A far better way than pecking at the keys with two or three fingers exists, yet many people aren't even aware of it. Animal Typing is a well-made app and a useful tool for rectifying this omission and giving children superb keyboard skills for the future.
From the Developer
• Animal Typing is a simple and funny way to learn touch typing for all ages.
In Animal Typing, the animal you get depends on your typing skills. The faster you type, the faster is your animal (snail, rabbit, horse, etc.). However, be careful, Animal Typing also greatly rewards your accuracy. So, avoid the typos and get the cheetah!
• Use the virtual keyboard or a Bluetooth keyboard.
** A hardware Bluetooth keyboard is recommended. **
• 32 lessons to gradually learn the keyboard keys.
• Also include a second set of 32 lessons for kids under 10 years old.
• Animated fingers showing the proper typing technique.
** Only displayed when using a hardware Bluetooth keyboard. **
• Keyboard layouts: Qwerty (US, UK), Dvorak, Colemak, Qwertz (German), Azerty (French).
(The Dvorak or Colemak layout should be set in iOS settings and are only available with a Bluetooth keyboard.)
• Include advanced lessons for specials characters (1234... #$%...).
• Include the Kids Lessons in Arabic.
• Local user login system to switch between multiple users.
• Game Center Leaderboards.
I want to thank the translators Mr Oscar Céspedes, Ms Lingnan Wang, and Ms Masako Nagano for the realization of the Spanish, Chinese, and Japanese lessons respectively.
I want to thank Ms Gaylene Sutton for her suggestion and advices in the preparation of the "Kids Lessons" set.
I also want to thank the freesound.org community for the sound effects.
Full audio credits: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/5053760/index.html.
AgesPrimary School Apps (5-7 Years)
Primary School Apps (7-11 Years)
Secondary School Apps (11-14 Years)