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Best New iPad Apps: Watch and learn with educational videos, create fun animations & brain training for children

by Doug Drinkwater

August 23 2013

Curious – Like YouTube but for life education

You might often use YouTube or perhaps TED for viewing videos on the iPad, but neither really fit the bill if you’re looking to quickly learn about everyday topics. YouTube is quantity over quality and TED is focused more on the education sector.

Aiming to fill that void is an interesting new iPad app, called Curious (free, iTunes). Coming from the same folks at Curious.com who specialize in online learning, the app lets users choose from hundreds of thousands of lessons from experts around the globe.

Topics include arts and crafts, cooking, DIY, home and garden, music,  software, photography and foreign languages. There’s even a section for sports and learning new life skills.

These categories are all displayed in a very colourful and visual, grid-like landing page, with the art and photo category – as one example – showing the drawing of a camera.

At the bottom toolbar, the app breaks down videos by ‘All videos’, ‘My lessons’ and ‘Search’. My lessons shows trending videos and ones you’ve already watched while the search function lets you dive into favoured topics.

You can scroll down to see videos and tap the ‘see more lessons’ button at the bottom for see more videos.

Tapping on a video brings up details of the lesson – including a table of contents, information about the teacher and other lessons from the same teacher.

When the video is running you can touch the screen once to stop, select the forward and rewind buttons and see related attachments (one example: a video on ‘9 Essential Guitar Chords’ had a PDF attachment). You can even send ‘curious cards, leave a comment and– perhaps most impressively – teachers can teach you on what you’ve learnt during a chapter by offering multiple-choice questions at the end of a chapter.

Loop is a fun app for making short animations

If like me, you remember the days when you created flip-book animations at school, you’re going to love the new Loop for iPad app ($0.99, iTunes).

The app is for creating short-hand drawn animations which you can then share via email, Tumblr and in Loop’s own gallery.

It really is rather simple to use, even if for art amateurs like me.  Below the empty canvas there are buttons for going back or forward, applying different brushes (only black, red and blue are available, you can apply thicker lines by holding down firmly) and for the eraser or deleting frames.

The onion skin button lets you duplicate your last frame and there is an option to upload to the Loop gallery, which has some really impressive gifs that are much better than mine.

Fit Brains now offers version for kids

Remember when I reviewed the Fit Brains app for adults earlier this year? It was an excellent app that focused on games as a way of training your brain.

Well, the developer behind the app – Vivity Labs – has now come up with a similar app but for young children.

Fit Brains: Sparky’s Adventures (free, iTunes) is aimed at kids aged 2-8 and offers 200 scientifically designed brain-training games across the five key areas of the brain.

Designed by well-regarded neuroscientist Dr Paul Nussbaum, Fit Brains X judges kids on memory, logic, visual, speed and concentration, while the “Parents Corner (don’t get confused with the Kids Corner on Windows Phone) lets parents view the progress of their child.

The app guides users to entering the name, age and gender of the child and asks for an email address to send detailed feedback on the child’s performance.

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