However, what I hadn't anticipated was that, along with the joy that this change brought for myself, it also was a bit of a life-altering event for my kids. Prior to my update, they had pretty limited access to my phone, only really having the chance to play a game or listen to a story during times when we were somewhere that they truly needed to be occupied.
But now? Now they were the proud owners of my hand-me-down, an iPhone newly cleared of all the "boring Mama stuff" and filled to the brim with all sorts of fun, entertaining apps, games, books and more.
So, while "regular" apps have typically proven perfectly fine, I'm always on the lookout for ways that I can make the iPhone just a little more kid-friendly — protect it from drops, add in educational value, ensure it is age-appropriate, etc.
What I didn't anticipate, however, was that in my search to do so would I discover a product that did all of that... but also could turn a phone into a child's best friend. And then we met Ubooly.
A creative and educational creature powered by an iPhone or iPod touch (Android coming soon!), Ubooly works with devices both new and old to engage and interact with your child.
Standing approximately 6" tall, 5" wide and covered in extremely soft orange plush, Ubooly just might be the most cute and cuddly way to play with an iOS gadget yet. At the same time, parents can rest assured that Ubooly's cushioned body will also keep their iPhone or iPod touch safe and secure throughout playtime and beyond.
Knowing that my kids would be thrilled to have a way to bring their iPhone to life, we were all pretty excited when Ubooly arrived, peering at us through the box.
As I already had a general idea as to how Ubooly worked, I was glad to see that the steps truly were as simple as I had believed. After downloading the Ubooly app (free from the App Store), I simply "adopted" Ubooly using the six-digit code that came on his instruction card and created an online account to begin customizing him.
Once I had Ubooly adopted and my account personalized in the Ubooly Lab (I was able to create a persona for each of my kids, inputting their names, ages, favorite colors, likes, interests and more), it was time to slip the girls' iPhone right into the top, zip it in safely, and bring Ubooly to life.
Right away the girls were surprised when Ubooly's face appeared on the screen — snoring! Once we "swiped" the screen and he woke up, he magically came to life and started chatting with us.
As we got to know him, we started playing around with Ubooly's display settings, getting to choose different eyes, hair and accessories (i.e. styles of glasses) for his face. While there are only a few initial choices, we found that the possibilities are endless once you start earning coins (credits) in the Ubooly Lab.
As well as Ubooly's appearance, however, we were all amazed at the way that Ubooly is able to recognize and interact with us through voice commands. Who knew that it would be so easy to make this cuddly little guy tell stories, play music, crack jokes, play games, listen to my kids ramble, and more simply by waking him up?
It didn't take long before Big Sister E and Little Sister B were chatting away to Ubooly, happy to have someone to listen to their every thought and idea...
...as well as letting him have a turn making them laugh and telling them stories. I love when Ubooly takes them on an imaginative adventure and, for instance, I turn around to see them pretending to fly their airplanes to exotic locations!
Just as a pal, Ubooly is able to be a fun addition to my kids' lives, as he is perfectly portable and continues to entertain them when they discover new ways to interact with him.
He'll go from playing house with them to reading books with them to playing outside with them to much more. And we've found that Ubooly doesn't end up just a sideline spectator very often...
...as it only takes one time bringing him onto the trampoline and hearing him gleefully call Wheeeeee! and Yippeeeee! as he is bounced around before we realize that Ubooly can pretty much always be a part of the action.
However, as much as I like that Ubooly is adorable, cuddly, fun to play with and a good listener, I'm an even bigger fan of the educational aspects that he subtly adds to our lives.
Using purchased credits in the Ubooly Lab, I am able to control the content that is wirelessly transmitted to Ubooly for my girls. With a large variety of age-appropriate games, lessons and activities, I can easily look and decide on the focus that Ubooly will have available for each of my girls.
After browsing the different topics...
...I can click on each one to find out more details, decide if it is right for us, and download it right into Ubooly's memory.
It really couldn't be much easier to turn this fun buddy into a teacher and have him take my girls through all sorts of educational information (including experiments and hands-on activities) in a fun and interactive way!
As Big Sister E and Little Sister B play with Ubooly and complete various content (something that I can easily see and track in the Ubooly Lab), they earn more coins — which is a great incentive so that they can keep on customizing Ubooly with more fun hairstyles, glasses and more!
At the same time, I know that he is helping them with math, reading, learning healthy habits, life lessons, the world around them, and much more. All of the content is written by a large team of elementary teachers and comedians for ages ranging from 3-9 years old, so I never have to worry about skill level, appropriate wording, etc.
With fun new aspects available for free for Ubooly each month (simply by updating the app) and affordable content for purchase from the Ubooly Lab, I can easily see this innovative creature being a part of our lives for quite some time to come. He's the Siri of the child iPhone world (in a friendly, knowledgeable, non-snarky kind of way) that everyone wants to play with!
Retailing for $29.95 (directly from Ubooly.com or from Amazon), Ubooly currently is available only in orange but is coming soon in green and pink as well. Even better, parents can download the free app and try it out without the Ubooly plush to get a feel for how well their child enjoys it before purchasing the fuzzy body to go with it.
Find out much more about this fun new way to bring technology to life by visiting Ubooly.com and connecting with him on Facebook and Twitter. Plus, thanks to his generosity, one person will get to experience this magical stuffed animal as well, because...
One lucky person will win an Ubooly plush AND a $30 credit to the Ubooly Lab (total ARV $59.95)!
A big thank you to Ubooly for providing a plush toy and Ubooly Lab credit for me to review as well as a plush and $30 credit for one lucky giveaway winner. The opinions shared are my own and honest and if you really need to see more, click here to see how I roll.