Nickelodeon puts out quite a few games, some paid, some free, but almost all tie into some intellectual property they own. This time is no different. Llama Llama Spit Spit is a tie-in game for Nickelodeon's show Game Shakers. Touted as a sitcom, Game Shakers looks to be about kids who start a gaming studio with some rapper. A completely normal premise to be sure. Luckily, Game Shakers is neither here nor there, as the show does not really matter in the scope of this game whatsoever.
The Play Store has a crap-ton of content, much of which you might not want your kids to access. Google is aware of this, and at I/O 2015 the company has announced a new set of tools specifically designed to help parents find age-appropriate content, plus a few extras to help kids engage with the content itself. It's all being introduced to the Play Store under the "Family Star" label and logo.
Family Star extends across apps, games, video, and book content, but it's primarily intended for games. Searches specifically for kid-friendly content filter out everything else, and content under the Family Star logo is separated by age range.
Toddlers deserve teardowns too! Ok, maybe teardowns are still for grownups, but let's do something for those little ones that haven't learned to read xml yet. The YouTube Kids app has only been available since late February, so it's fair to expect a lot of changes and new features in each release. Last week's update brought immersive mode and better voice search, but a look inside revealed that there are some extra toys in the future. To begin with, it looks like Chromecast support is right around the corner. However, the really cool addition appears to be a built-in recording mode to capture your little one singing along to The Wheels On The Bus.
Google plans to roll out a new Google Play program that places an emphasis on family-focused (i.e. kid-friendly) apps and games. This initiative will display pre-approved content under an experience the company is calling "Designed for Families." The goal is to point parents in the direction of software from the likes of Crayola and PBS Kids without exposing them to the flood of less age-appropriate content on display in the Play Store.
It's pretty impressive how quickly LEGO has transitioned from a conventional toy (sorry, versatile interlocking brick system) manufacturer into a media powerhouse, with entries touching every part of pop culture. Their latest game for Android is actually a port of an existing browser game, made using the ubiquitous Unity engine. LEGO Creator Islands lets players log into their LEGO ID account to continue play across the web and Android platforms, or just go it alone on mobile.
The game is a cross between SimCity-style city management and, well, tiny plastic blocks. Each building or vehicle you create for the Minifigs (those little yellow guys with the round heads) earns you more blocks...
Tynker made waves back in March when the developers released the teaching app on the iPad. It introduces children (or anyone, I suppose) to the basic principles of coding and programming. Tynker was available on the web before that, teaching extremely basic programming with a puzzle-style visual interface and pre-made tools. The Android app is only available on tablets, which makes sense given the format, and it costs $4.99 with no in-app purchases.
Tynker won't teach your kids how to code C++ or Java overnight - it's more about learning to think and establish work patterns that roughly approximate programming to get kids interested.
If you've been on the Internet for the last month, you've probably heard of LeVar Burton's Reading Rainbow Kickstarter campaign, which appealed directly to parents to bring the beloved reading-focused kid's program to the web. The campaign has just under six hours left, and at $5.1 million pledged, Burton & co. now have the resources available to meet their goal of bringing the upcoming experience to Android, as well as game consoles and set-top boxes.
Since Android is, in fact, the world's most-used mobile operating system, it seems a little odd that it wasn't included in the campaign's original $1 million goal to "bring Reading Rainbow back for every child, everywhere." (The show was relaunched as a combination video/interactive book app for the iPad in 2012, long before this recent push, with no mention of an Android app at the time.) Still, I'm sure parents and teachers will be happy to hear about the expanded availability.
For the uninitiated, Skylanders is a series of kid's video games that use collectible (read: expensive) real-world toys to unlock and enhance the power of the digital characters. The games have been smash hits on consoles, but so far Activision's only concession to the Play Store has been Cloud Patrol, a basic turret shooter that leaves a lot to be desired. The new Skylanders Battlegrounds, a more conventional action-RPG, should make much better use of the property.
The game allows you to gradually unlock the Skylanders heroes, or if you've got the titular toys, warp them directly onto the field of battle.
When I was a kid, "robot" meant something that you had to wind up (or if you were rich, something you plugged into your Nintendo Entertainment System). Startup company Play-I wants to change that with Bo and Yana, a pair of toy robots that use a tablet or smartphone as both a controller and a programming tool. The company's crowdfunding campaign started yesterday and has already hit almost 80% of its quarter-million dollar goal.
The idea is simple: kid-friendly robots with kid-friendly programming. These aren't simple RC cars in fancy plastic shells, they're fully interactive robots that will require creative thinking and problem-solving from kids in order to reach their full potential.
Kids these days have it so easy. When I was a rugrat me and my sister shared a 100Mhz Windows 95 machine that Dad scrounged out of spare parts, and we were happy to have it. If you feel like irresponsibly trusting your child with an expensive electronic gadget of their very own, Samsung is happy to oblige with the Kids edition of the 7-inch Galaxy Tab 3. This ruggedized tablet with kid-specific software goes on sale on November 10th at the usual retailers, plus Toys 'R' Us, for $229.99.
The tablet's Kids moniker comes from the fact that it includes a special impact-resistant case and a ton of software tweaks, including enhanced parental controls and a restricted app store specifically for children.