My Friend Cayla is an interactive doll that connects to an app via bluetooth that allows her to talk, tell stories, answer questions and play games. The app can be downloaded from the Apple App Store or Google Play and it works on phones or tablets with iOS 7.1 and later and Android 4.0.3 and later. For interaction, the doll connects to the internet through a child-safe software program developed for the doll called Violet, which protects children from words parents don't want kids to hear, and parents can customize the software as well. Cayla can also speak different languages, depending on the version of the app that is downloaded.
Once downloaded, connect the doll via bluetooth (We found it very easy to do.), and open the app. Kids have the option of touching the "hello" button that allows Cayla to initiate conversation or the start button that facilitates more open-ended play with the child in charge. In both modes, kids know that Cayla is listening to them when her necklace lights up.
The doll can be played in both online and offline modes. When the doll is online, you can ask virtually any question and offline she can answer questions about herself, such as a favorite color or pet. The app works from a range of about 30 feet (typical for bluetooth connections), and the only time the child needs the device nearby is when playing games, such as tic-tack-toe and a memory game, or looking at pictures or reading stories along with the doll.
The 18-inch doll has a gorgeous face sculpt and comes in a very contemporary outfit. She can wear clothes for any similarly sized doll, including American Girl dolls.
There is a bit of a lag time between talking to the doll and getting a response. This makes sense, given that the doll is getting information and processing it as speech. After a little bit of play, the child will be accustomed to the response time.
The speech is simulated. It's very clear but a little mechanical. That's to be expected, and after a little bit of play, it becomes part of the doll and becomes part of Cayla's personality.
Like other similar dolls, this is only articulated at the shoulder and the hips.
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