The iPad is an amazing machine capable of various things: it can be a camera, music player, compass, game console, and more. And now, thanks to The Everything Machine, the iPad can be a machine for pranking unsuspecting family members, catching ice cream thieves, changing your voice to sound like an evil villain, and more.
As suggested by its name, The Everything Machine is a maker app that gives you access to the tools and sensors on your device, so you can build whatever you want with them. The process is entirely visual as you only need to drag and drop the components to use them, but it does give you a good idea of how programming and engineering work.
How It Works
When you open the app, you’ll be presented with a workspace and a drawer of components. To use a component, you simply drag it from the drawer and onto the workspace. You can also drag a component onto another to connect them.
The components are the tools and sensors found on your device, such as its camera or microphone, along with toggles and buttons, modifiers (such as a color shifter and a pitch changer), and even logic gates. By joining several components and connecting them to a battery, you can create machines that do anything you can think of.
For example, one my first experiments was a voice-altering machine that raised the pitch of my voice to make it sound like a chipmunk. Another machine, included as a sample, projects whatever the camera sees behind a tinted filter.
That’s not all you can do. By adding logic gates and routers, you can build more complex machines. It’s possible, for example, to set up a machine that, when triggered by a sound or a face coming into view, captures a photo and transmits it to a machine on another iPad, iPhone, iPod, or Apple Watch.
For any machine that you created, you can save and name it. You can use it everyday, and come back any time to refine it.
Parents Need to Know
The Everything Machine is, by far, the most complex app that Tinybop has created. While the app has an intuitive interface, figuring out how some of the components work do require some problem solving kills. I’d say the app is more suitable for older children, although the younger ones might also enjoy it with some assistance from grown-ups.
Before handing the app to your child, I’d suggest checking out the included manual, which explains the components and their functions. You’ll also find step-by-step guides to create some really fun machines, such as the “Wind Thrower” (cue fart jokes) and the “Cookie Thief Catcher”.
Like all Tinybop apps, The Everything Machine allows you to create multiple users so each child can create and save their own machines. It also supports 40+ languages, including Chinese, French, German, Russian, Spanish, and Portuguese. The app has no third-party advertising and no in-app purchases, and doesn’t require an Internet connection to play.
Things You Can Make
Still unsure of what machine to make in The Everything Machine? We suggest visiting Tinybop’s YouTube channel for more tutorials. Some of our favorites include the evil villain voice changer and how to catch someone red handed.
Meanwhile, you may also try replicating some of our own inventions below:
The “Keep Cookies Crisp” Machine
Triggers a warning sound after it has been exposed to light for a certain time. Place your device (preferably an iPod or iPhone) inside the cookie jar to ensure that nobody leaves the jar open for too long!
How to build it:
- Connect a toggle to the battery.
- Connect a camera to the toggle.
- Connect a light detector to the camera.
- Connect a timer to the light detector and set it to any duration you like.
- Connect a Type Talker to the timer and type in your message (“Keep the jar closed, please!”)
- Slide the toggle to turn the machine on and place the device inside the cookie jar.
The “Surprise Selfie” Machine
Whenever a face comes into view, sound a message and wait a few seconds before snapping a picture. Then, send the picture to your other device! Note: both devices need to be in the same network for the machine to work.
How to build it:
- On device #1, connect a camera to the battery.
- Connect a face detector to the camera.
- Connect a Type Talker to the face detector and type in a message (“Smile for the camera!”)
- Connect a timer to the face detector and set it to 2-3 seconds.
- Connect a Transmitter to the timer. Place your device somewhere where people can see it!
- On device #2, connect a Receiver to the battery.
- Connect a Photo Keeper to the Receiver and wait for your “Surprise Selfies”!
Did you or your child invent a crazy machine in the app? Share it with us! Send us an email and we’ll include your machine in this review.
Things I Like
Tinybop has always made some pretty cool apps, but The Everything Machine is their most fascinating work yet. Even though it’s listed as a kids’ app, grown-ups will also enjoy tinkering with it. I love how you can make all sorts of machines, from the very simple to the more sophisticated, using the same components. Really, the only limit here is your imagination.
In addition to creative thinking, the app also introduces kids to programming and circuitry. As kids build their machines, they will learn that it has a beginning and an end, and follows a sequence of operations. They may not be writing code, but they are creating an algorithm to make their machine run properly.
All in all, I think The Everything Machine is an excellent app. Whether you’re using it at home or in a classroom, it’s bound to stir up your child’s interest in STEM.
The Everything Machine lets you access the hardware and sensors on your device so you can create machines that do anything you can think of. This sophisticated app encourages creative thinking, and introduces kids to programming and circuitry. It’s a child-friendly app, yet at the same time complex enough for grown-ups to enjoy. Highly recommended!
App was provided for our honest review.
Tinybop is a Brooklyn-based studio of designers, engineers, and artists building educational apps for curious kids. Their approach is to build apps where kids play and learn by diving into big ideas, seeing how things work, and making connections about the world they live in.
You should also check out their other apps that we’ve reviewed:
The Robot Factory is a beautiful robot builder where kids can mix and match 50+ unique parts to experiment with different designs, then see if their construction holds up in the treacherous test arena. The app supports multiple profiles, so more than one child can play on the same device.
Simple Machines is a sandbox-style app where kids can experiment with six simple machines to discover how they work. Its physics engine allows kids to alter and test each machine to learn about various physics concepts including force and motion, actions and reactions, inputs and outputs, and tradeoffs. Offering a sleek and polished experience, this app will make kids excited about STEM.