The main line of business for Imagination Playground - the company who have developed this app (and given it its name!) - is to produce sets of blue blocks, ranging from small to huge sizes, that allow children to play in a very physical and creative way. The blocks come in a range of shapes that really stretch the children's imaginations, without being prescriptive in their use. The different shapes can be piled, stacked, placed and moved around to produce an infinite number of different structures and enables children to develop their own physical place space.
This iOS app has been developed to bridge the gap between technology-based play and the type of physical creation that Imagination Playground blocks allow, and to some extent this has been a successful idea. The app itself is very simple in both concept and execution - it loads quickly and has a clean and clear interface. After a very succinct on-screen briefing the user is ready to start using the blocks using a variety of touch screen gestures.
The graphics and sound effects involved in the app are both good enough and in no way detract from the learning or creation process taking place, and a rough structure can soon be build up using a range of different blocks and connecting blocks. As with the real-life manifestation of these blocks, all of them are blue. Whereas the appeal of this single colour is apparent within the physical blocks, where a range of colours may stifle creativity of shape or purpose, on the iPad it looks rather flat and dull, and also makes it hard to see where blocks start and end once there are lots on the screen. It is not always intuitive or easy to attach blocks together, especially when looking down at shapes that may or may not be in the same physical "layer" of space. The blocks sometimes jerk around to avoid collisions, which is necessary since they cannot be allowed to overlap, but can be frustrating when trying to place a new object in a specific location.
Once the blocks have been placed to the user's liking, you can press the "gravity" button which, as its name suggests, causes the blocks to act as if under gravity and fall where they are not attached to each other, or balanced soundly. This adds an interesting dimension to the app, and would allow it to be useful in physics or technology lessons.
Overall, this app provides a good outlet for children to while away some time creatively, but it comes nowhere close to the experience provided by the physical counterpart of the app, which allows children to develop teamwork, get active and explore the tactile world. If it were used in conjunction with a set of Imagination Playground blocks then many different learning opportunities arising from the combined use could be explored. As a standalone app, this is well constructed, but likely to be less appealing to youngsters than the very good free Duplo and Lego apps available for younger children, and the Minecraft universe for older children.