Livescribe pen gets an app store

The first add-on programs are now ready for the digital pen as its store enters beta. The current offering is a mixed bag ranging from video poker to a Bar Mitzvah translator.

The Livescribe app store, now in beta, allows users to download applications to their pen ranging from inexpensive games to a pricey--but handy--Bar Mitzvah tutor. Livescribe

It took a little bit longer than the company had hoped, but the Livescribe digital pen now has its own app store.

The store, which requires pen owners to upgrade their desktop software to the new version 2.0, offers a mixed bag of new applications that range from free programs to one that costs $99.

The programs, which all work without a computer, include games like video poker and hangman, along with utilities like a Spanish-English dictionary. The one that caught my eye the most was the priciest app--the $99 Magic Yad application, which works to help those studying for their bar or bat mitzvah.

The Magic Yad (which gets its name from the Hebrew term for the pointer used to keep one's place in the Torah) consists of Torah and haftarah portions printed on the special dot paper. When an aspiring Hebrew learner clicks on a particular word, they can hear how it is supposed to be chanted. They can also record themselves reading the same part and compare the two.

Typically, learning one's bar or bat mitzvah portion requires hours with a tutor.

"This solves an expensive pain point for parents," Livescribe senior director Eric Petitt said in an interview last week.

While the Magic Yad might be a killer app for the 12-year-old Jewish set, most of the other applications are largely fun add-ons, but not the kind of thing that might make one rush out and by the pen. It's main attraction is still the "paper replay" feature that lets one record audio and synchronize the audio with their handwritten notes.

The games are interesting, if not all that advanced. Drawing five circles on the dot paper lets one play video poker and choose which cards to keep. The cards themselves appear on the pen's small LCD screen. To play hangman, one simply writes the letters they wish to guess. They then see on the screen whether they have gotten closer to solving the puzzle or if they just added an appendage to their hangman. And, as only fitting, there is also a dots game. (Livescribe uses special paper with tiny dots that allow the ink to be digitized properly),

Livescribe started shipping the Pulse pen last spring. It has since added Mac support and expanded the number of models it offers as well as the places it can be found , which now include Best Buy and some Apple stores.

As for the app store, it's in beta. For now, Livescribe envisions a revenue split where it takes a 35 percent cut and the developer gets 65 percnet, although it is still finalizing its terms.

Here's a video I did showing some of the new apps in action.

About the author

    During her years at CNET News, Ina Fried has changed beats several times, changed genders once, and covered both of the Pirates of Silicon Valley. These days, most of her attention is focused on Microsoft. E-mail Ina.

     

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