Spelling Bee should be an extremely simple app for a developer to execute. Other than a series of brightly coloured picture cards, all that’s really needed are a series of crystal clear voice clips describing the words users are expected to correctly recall. Unfortunately, there are a few crucial niggles that hold back this vocabulary challenger from fulfilling its seemingly easy mandate.
Spelling tools are useful for Android owners of any age. At Life Of Android we’re always looking to add a new word to our opulent vocabularies so we thought Spelling Bee would be just the app for us. With a range of difficulty settings from Easy to Hard and an arsenal of 2,300 words to learn, this light hearted offering from educational developer Socratica seemed just the ticket.
Where Spelling Bee excels is in design, the area it least needs to do so. As you’d expect the app has been given a bee-themed makeover with each slide tastefully decorated in different shades of yellow, gold and honeycomb. A few cartoons of your favourite wax-producing insects are also included for good measure.
In terms of the playing the app however, Spelling Bee is something of a disappointment. Its problems stem almost exclusively from the ‘voice clips’ used to state each word out loud. These are nothing more than a computerized enunciator linking syllables together, often using the most bizarre pronunciations possible. For example, ‘solder’ becomes “sudder”, ‘capillary’ becomes “capillairey” and ‘vicissitude’ becomes “vicissude”. With home recording technology available for so little nowadays, it’s almost criminal that no one thought to record the words in a human voice.
Entering words is also a little clumsy too, once you’ve hit ‘Done’ for one question you also have to click the ‘Return’ button to get back to the question from the keyboard interface. It’s not a major grievance but in an already flawed app, it’s certainly a consistent annoyance.
In defence of Spelling Bee, that electronic voice is bearable across shorter, more familiar words. Plus, perfecting the app only really requires the two key corrections we’ve mentioned. Until they come through, we’re keeping our praise for Spelling Bee muted at best.
A simple vocabulary-testing app struggles to fulfil its basic requirements.
Version reviewed 2.4.3
Requires Android 1.6 or higher