Or, in a nutshell: it gets children (and, indeed, adults) to make virtual things on their iPhone or iPad, and then get them printed out as physical models, either on their own 3D printer or through one of Blokify’s partners.
(The latter is much more likely for now, given that 3D printers are expensive, but that’ll change over time.)
Things we really like about Blokify: first, it’s easy to use, as you drag and drop blocks into place to build whatever you like. Second, the app gives children more of a steer by providing themed “kits” with models, backgrounds and music.
A Castle Mountain kit comes with the initial free download, while Pirate Sea and Space Platform are available via in-app purchase, as are individual “bloks” and models. The way this works is that each item costs a certain number of “diamonds”, which can be bought in pack, from £2.99 for 100 up to £69.99 for 2,500.
Yes, that’s quite high: make sure if your child is using Blokify on their own that you’ve set your in-app purchase restrictions, and had a chat with them about responsible use of the device.
Once you and/or your child has made something in Blokify, the 3D printing bit comes in, with the model able to be emailed to you in STL format for printing at home, or ordered online from a website called Cubify.com.
We tried this with a castle keep model to see how expensive it is, and it came up as $103.51 for the printing, plus another $136.21 in shipping costs from the US to our home address in the UK. Very expensive, in other words! But also very early days for this technology.
For now, our sons will be building models but not printing them in Blokify, but further down the line we can imagine taking that next step, as it becomes more affordable to either own a 3D printer, or use services like Cubify (including UK shipping, hopefully!)
We’ve written about 3D printing before with last year’s Makies Doll Factory app, and we think we’ll be seeing a few more experiments around the potential of this technology (and apps) for children to create their own toys in the coming year.
For now, Blokify is a free download for iPhone and iPad on Apple’s App Store.
Buy Apps Playground’s 100 Best iPad Apps of 2013 e-book – £1.99 from Apple’s iBooks Store