Sunday, May 24, 2009

iPrompts iTouch App Review

iPrompts is an application for the iPod Touch and iPhone that offers vertical visual schedule, a countdown timer and a simple choice making utility. It is designed to replace carrying those bulky (and annoying) visual schedules and choice making boards so many of us are used to using. It has recently come down in price and now retails for about $75. This review comes from using it a few weeks in my classroom.

The Good:
  • the visual schedule picture does allow for a much more portable way of carrying a visual schedule for individuals who need it
  • the choice making feature allows very quick, on-the-fly, choice making from a horizontal field of two of two pictures
  • the countdown timer could make transitions easier for some individuals and displays an image or photo as well as a numeric and a visual image of the time passing
  • the price just dropped to about 75 dollars (I paid 80)
  • an iTouch is a much more portable and socially acceptable way to present visual scedules and cues to individuals with disabilities, especially in public, especially to older individuals in schools
  • the product was designed by a family of a little boy with Autism to meet his needs for visual supports and I am all for families creating solutions and sharing them with the world

The Bad:
  • the software is buggy, closing without notice and refusing import of many images (the company promises a release soon with a bug fix, no word on when)
  • there is no way to "lock-out" the option menu, allowing students to "accidentally" or "accidentally-on-purpose" change into different parts of the program, put in new pictures or remove pictures
  • the choice feature is used up and down to create the choice menu and side-to-side to offer the choices, meaning that for our students who always pick the left on (or the right one) you cannot really switch to a vertical choice (unless you want them to enter the library when they choose)
  • the countdown timer sets off warning chimes before the countdown ends which are confusing to many individuals ("why is it beeping if I still have time?") and there is no way to change those settings
  • the visual image of the countdown can be confusing (at least it is to my students)
  • in general the software is not very customizable, sure you can change the pictures in the schedule, choice or timer but beyond that not much else, in our field, with our students being able to individualize is everything and this app just doesn't meet the need - in fact iPrompts does not even appear in the iTouch's settings app
  • if you use with an iPod you cannot take pictures directly, although you can import from iTunes, but again, that is buggy
  • according to the website they only trialed the software with about 12 individuals
  • there are no special education teachers, SLPs, OT, BCBAs, AT specialists or other professionals listed on any sort of advisory board - not that you need to have these people, just that a little input and access to the research you are trying to emulate doesn't hurt (there is an autism specialist in their promotional video)
  • as far as I know there was no closed or open public beta trial, there was no recruiting of professionals to try the software from places like the Quality Indicators for Assistive Technology (QIAT) List Serv, the Alliance for Technology Access (ATA) or the RESNA group
  • The presentation of the software as "AAC" in some places create the illusion that this is "talking" software when it is not, I fully expected the app to speak and it doesn't, caveat emptor, it was my mistake, but one easily made

The Ugly:
  • the "stock images" provided are pretty terrible, clip art (and babyish) and not-so-great photos - no picture symbols provided (you can import, with some effort Mayer-Johson Picture Communication Symbols Meta Files (if you own them $199.00 - there are some less um... legal ways to do this of course) or a free symbol set like Imagine Symbols with considerable effort and use of your iTouch memory
  • although this is not really an AAC application (simple choice making yes, AAC not-so-much - if this app wants to compare itself with AAC it needs compare itself honestly, not with devices that do millions and millions of times more what it does) the website feels the need to "bash" AAC companies with high tech, well developed, specialty products, not realizing, perhaps, that without those companies we would not have the research and development, the knowledge and the ideas to do what we do with AAC and technology with individuals with communication disorders everyday - in addition they state that these companies "prey" on vulnerable school districts and parents, that's a gutsy accusation to make publically when opening a new company
  • the company uses the term "Social Story" (which is trademarked) in its documentation incorrectly (Social Stories are a very specific format with a very specific focus) and does not credit Carol Grey
In summary, this is a very expensive app for what it offers that is buggy, not terribly customizable and meets very limited needs. However it might be perfect for some individuals who just need those basic picture schedules and simple visual, horizontal two choice options. If you think it might be you should check out the YouTube tutorial video and their website, or download from iTunes. You should also consider using it with the iPhone versus the iPod for the avaliability of a camera to help overcome the lack of symbols.

In some cases it may be best to spend a little more money ($75 more) and get Proloquo2Go (introductory price currently $150), then you will have a high quality, well researched AAC, fully tested application that, when place in "list" format can do the same type of visual scedule and will allow you to create endless "choice" boards (that talk with your choice a top of the line voice) and then just use the regular count down timer on your iTouch for countdowns (the only app Proloquo2Go can't currently do).

P.S. That makes me wonder when there will be a Time Timer app. Wouldn't that rock?


  1. I am going to be doing a podcast with these guys in about 13 days. I will ask about some of the features you are looking for.


  2. Thanks for the review. That's a really expensive app!

  3. Hi everyone! The price of iPrompts has been reduced to $49.99 in conjunction with a release which lets iPod Touch customers use pictures from their iPod's main photo library. Additional performance-enhancing modifications are in the works, which customers will enjoy at no additional charge when they become available in the coming weeks. And, while the stock content is indeed geared toward younger children (like our own!), we aim to expand the content (again at no additional charge) so that it includes images specifically for teenagers and even adults. Stay tuned!

    Best to everyone,
    Dan (CEO, HandHold Adaptive and father of Evan)

  4. A Time Timer iPhone app is now available. Its MSRP is $4.99.

  5. so cool, thank you for telling me! I knew they were working on it, glad it is out!


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