Pocket Penguins makes for a real live virtual pet

Jul 20, 2011
Education

I admit, I have spent some time watching webcam websites of puppies and other collections of cute animals. I’m not immune to the simulated warmth these webcams provide. Pocket Penguins, an app that lets you view the penguins housed at the California Academy of Sciences, could’ve been much more than just a penguin-cam, but it’s […]

I admit, I have spent some time watching webcam websites of puppies and other collections of cute animals. I’m not immune to the simulated warmth these webcams provide. Pocket Penguins, an app that lets you view the penguins housed at the California Academy of Sciences, could’ve been much more than just a penguin-cam, but it’s still a pretty good penguin-cam, anyway.

You can view the penguins at CAS with three different camera views, including an underwater view that is particularly great if you happen to catch a penguin swimming by. More disappointing, however, is the lack of information on the penguins.

Maybe it’s a double standard, as I never require a puppy cam to give me detailed breeding information on the dogs I’m watching, but I feel like I could use a bit more background on these penguins. Who are they? How old are they? Where did they come from? Do they prefer hip-hop or rock music? Give me something!

The other odd quirk on Pocket Penguins is that although it would appear to be a very kid-friendly app, given it’s basically like having a portion of a zoo in your iPhone, there is a button in the bottom left corner that, when tapped, pops up a prompt to make a $5 text donation to the CAS. I can understand wanting to put a donation button in, but it needs to be on another tab or somewhere else on the app, because right now it’s entirely too easy to trigger without realizing it. Before you know it, your kid could have donated half of your check to help the penguins.

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Minor quibbles aside, Pocket Penguins is a fine app if you feel like gazing on these non-flying, chilled-out birds. It might not be particularly action-packed or informative, but there’s something about a swimming penguin that warms the spirit.

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Dan Kricke

Dan Kricke has been playing with electronics and writing about them for years. He loved his Sega Dreamcast and now the PlayStation 3. On the iPhone, he's a fan of sports apps and anything that offers new music.

 

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