Monthly Archives: October 2014

How we designed the app

First we drew out the old iphone version of the app and with all the comments / feedback we redesigned the layout specifically for iPad. For example, with the extra space, we were able to add buttons for random answers on the test screen, this removed the need for the keypad. This made the app much simpler and more fun as we were able to randomly place the correct answer, multiple choice.

Then we decided to lock the tables on the screen where the child could select which table they would like to be tested upon. This made it more fun and engaging. Next we thought about a way to make the app more fun, so we expanded on the chimp theme from the iPhone version. We made the chimp cuter and added fun sounds, that played at specific points in the app.

We went through several drafts and got feedback at each stage.

Then we hired a voice artist from the United States to produce some recording for full sums. We asked her to use a neutral accent, which would work in the UK and the US, also to make the voice friendly and fun. Why the United States (we’re a UK firm) ? Well we wanted to reach as many students as possible and help them learn their times tables.

With what we’d learned in the past, (have a look at The history behind the app page) we realized that the app had to fun, make the child want to return to the app and ultimately learn their times tables. This was quite a difficult combination and we decided to build a mockup app to and figure out how best to achieve this.

It made sense to give the child different answers to tap on, rather than enter an answer using a keypad. Also provide something to tap on as an extra, to give the child something to do for fun, while learning.

Here’s a video of an early beta, it looks a lot different to what we have today.

Next we decided to hire a designer to create a fun looking app, we gave him the early release, so he knew how the app should flow and asked him include fun looking monkeys. We think he did a really good job.

Then, we picked out some sounds which we thought would work, making sure that more prominent sounds were louder than other sounds.

We had some feedback from some kids who were in fits of laughter tapping sounds repeatedly 🙂 so we think the sounds fit nicely too.

We think we have a good combination of fun, retention and something kids can really use to learn their times tables.

The history behind the app

About ten years ago we created Speak Times Tables Tutor for the PC. The idea was to create something which would help kids learn their times tables interactively.

Speech technology had finally become available on desktop computers. We thought it was an awesome opportunity to create a learning tool that kids would find extremely useful.

The program used windows speech technology and was a good alternative to learning times tables “parrot fashion” (also known as reading and repeating from a book) of course kids love computers and fun, adding speech into the mix for the first time was really exciting.


The program had a lot of similarities to the iPad version today.

Primarily sold on ebay on CD, the program proved very popular. We often got feedback from happy parents whose children had done well at school in times tables tests.

At the time CD was the only real method to get educational software, broadband was only starting to become popular and dial up was the only alternative. Kids were able to use it at home to help with their times table.

In 2010 we then decided to bring the concept to iPhone, but with better speech. Having an app that was fun and could be used anywhere (in the car / on the bus) was another huge step forward in technology.

We made voice recordings from members of our team for all the numbers required and played these sounds to form the sums in the app.

Again, the app has a lot in common with the iPad version.

After listening to reviews and feedback we decided we could make a good iPad version. The iPad was the obvious next step / technological leap forward for kids’ educational software.