If you’re a parent, you know how little kids often want to be like their older sibs and other “big kids” they look up to. And that goes for technology too, of course. Enter Talking Angela, an iPhone and Android app designed for teens (and the teenager in all of us) but not for little kids. Though I can see why little ones would find Angela the talking cat fascinating.
Yesterday morning I found myself having two conversations about “Angela,” one with a Net safety expert in the UK via Skype and the other with one in Mexico via email. They had both gotten calls from parents about a hoax about Talking Angela that had been circulating on Facebook and in the news media in their respective countries – a hoax that associated the app with a “pedophile ring” but that has also been “fully repudiated,” CNET reports. Yet another reminder of the ever-increasing importance of media literacy.
57 million+ downloads so far
Angela is an “artificial intelligence chatbot” app that has been downloaded 57 million times since its release a little over a year ago, according to CNET. It was created by award-winning programmers Bruce and Sue Wilcox, whose bots “are the only ones to have qualified for the [World Turing Test] competition’s finals each of the last four years,” CNET adds. According to The Guardian, the Angela app “is part of a wider series of apps called Talking Tom and Friends [a talking dog, parrot and giraffe as well as cats], which have been downloaded more than 1.5 billion times since 2010, and are currently being used by 230m people every month – lots of children, but also lots of adults. They’ve spawned a series of popular YouTube videos in partnership with Disney, as well as a range of physical toys. Outfit7 is a well-known apps company, not a shadowy network of child-catchers….” Read more