Playing with Zoodles Kid Mode on the HTC One

theITbaby

Zoodles is a pretty neat application for your child that’s supposed to be available free for every device. I only mention the HTC One as all the links on the application’s web site seem to point to a dead link in the Google Play store as of this writing.

I’m assuming something’s up and it’ll be resolved soon enough (and indeed appears to have been so by the time I got the pictures uploaded,) so here goes a quick bit on the app that ships with the HTC One.

Zoodles Kid Mode

There are a few basic features in Zoodles Kid Mode on the HTC One. It allows you to put the phone into a mode that cannot be exited except by drawing a letter. You can still use the Android screen grab, and the lock screen will appear when it’s needed, but unlocking will always return you to the kid mode.

I’m not certain exactly how hard this is to get around, but chances are if a person who writes articles daily on Android can’t figure it out a four to eight year old is not going to easily. They’re far more likely to read the instructions and draw the letter Z in the appropriate location to exit the mode.

App/games menu

The app menu comes pre-loaded with some videos. Not a whole lot appears out of the box but you can download more content later. It’s actually kind of odd that they’re using a games/controller icon for nothing but videos, but eh, that’s the way it is.

Paint

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Painting is pretty basic, you choose a color and you draw lines. I’m not particularly impressed with it, however this is aimed at kids, not people who play with photoshop. I just wish it had a paint fill tool and different brushes as it’s just kind of boring after a bit.

Storybooks

Kim reading a story book

One of the ways this company makes money is to sell you storybooks that you can record a video of you reading to your child. The idea is pretty sweet – the child hears your voice and sees you reading the story to them, the execution and creepy potential of having video of you reading to your kids for a later date… I don’t know.

Seems either lazy, or horribly sad as you’re going to be dead of some incurable disease.

The app gives you one free storybook to record and play, that being the Three Little Pigs. ITMama made a recording of herself reading it, and it’s pretty easy to record a story for later use with your kids.

I think my problem here really does have to do with that’s not you reading it to them, it’s a recording, and if they need to hear your voice maybe they need you there… eh, I don’t know… perhaps it’s just late and I’m overthinking it.

Video Mail

Kid Mode video mail

Allows your child to send video postcards to friends and relatives. Only people you authorize can receive emails, so that should minimize any sort of potential for a snapchat-like snafu.

Parental Settings

Kid Mode settingsThis area allows you to select apps you want your child to have access to as well as characters you never want to see again from apps. Barney is of course first on the list. There’s also options to promote subjects to your child so they’ll be more inclined to play the math or word games.

There are more features included, such as the ability to block sites, advertising, all sorts of things aimed at providing a one-stop shop for your kid’s security and entertainment.

Unfortunately, there is a problem.

Houston, we have a problem

Zoodles down for maintenanceZoodles Kid Mode appears to need an external web site available to enter the application. This means when they’re down, you’re down. Although you can do what I did and slap the phone into airplane mode, enter the application, and then attempt to break out of it so you can get at your content.

It should be noted that the website was down for two minutes when I took that screen shot… and it was at about 1am my time, so I don’t expect this is going to be a huge problem for most.

Zoodles Kid Mode is available on Windows,  Mac, iPhones, and Android and is free unless you want some premium features or specific content. As the Google Play link appears dead at the moment, here’s the link to their web page.

 

4 / 5 stars