If we know two things in this world of children and apps, it’s that a.) kids love the apps by developer Toca Boca, and b.) kids love watching YouTube videos from around the world.
Now imagine those two things together. That’s Toca TV! Well, sort of. Toca Boca’s latest app is a collection of videos for children, but in this case they’ve been collected (and in some cases produced) by the company, rather than pulled from YouTube.
Initially available for iPhone and iPad, Toca TV is aimed at 5-9 year-olds. Toca Boca says that it “handpicks and pre-screens” every video to ensure it’s safe for children, with no advertising or sponsored videos allowed.
“Your kid will find favorites like Minecraft gameplay, DIY crafts and recipes, silly songs and much more,” explains its App Store listing. And as for its own videos: “We have brand-new kid-hosted shows, animated originals and videos featuring the Toca Boca characters kids love.”
I’m impressed by how easy Toca TV is to use. Children can tap through a new pile of videos every day – and ‘pile’ is the right word, as they’re arranged almost like a deck of cards. Toca Boca is adding new videos every week to keep it fresh.
When children find a video they like, they have the option to swipe it one of two ways. Swiping it to the left of the screen accesses a search feature to find other videos like it, while swiping it to the right saves it as one of their favourites.
Within that right-hand menu is also the option for children to create their own videos, which is one of my favourite features of Toca TV. They can film themselves or the world around them, using fun animated filters – if you’ve ever used Snapchat you’ll recognise the idea – to jazz up their mini-films.
Importantly, the videos your children make stay on the device: there is no upload or sharing feature. It’s great fun making videos, but you don’t have to worry about them being posted online and commented on.
Toca TV is free to download and try, but if you want your kids to use it beyond the free period, you’ll have to start paying a monthly subscription of £4.49, handled via Apple’s in-app purchase system.
From what I’ve seen so far, Toca TV is definitely worth the money. I’m not super-stressed about my own children seeing advertisements, as their tablet time is still limited, but I can see the appeal in paying for an ad-free app of this type.
I’ll be interested to see if lots of parents agree: Toca Boca’s challenge is to convince parents to pay rather than just downloading the free YouTube Kids app (plus here in the UK we have the free AND ad-free BBC iPlayer Kids app).
Still, at Apps Playground we’ve always taken the view that great children’s apps are worth paying for, and it doesn’t seem a stretch to extend that to great videos for kids too.
Toca TV is a free download for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store.