If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you can’t fail to have picked up on how much we love all the Toca Boca apps. I discovered them very soon after we started letting the kids play on our iPads, and there is always much excitement any time there’s a new release. One of the many things I like about Toca Boca is that they consistently produce good quality, entertaining and gender neutral apps. Both my kids have got a great deal of playtime out of all of their apps, and believe me, we own ALL of their apps (although a few were free for review purposes).
Toca Robot Lab might very well have been the first Toca Boca app we ever bought. It was first released in July 2011 and having checked back through my archived iTunes receipts I have discovered that I purchased it only two months later in September 2011. Yes, I really do keep all my iTunes receipts! The geekdaughter, who was almost 4 at the time played it first, and the geekson joined in soon afterwards. It isn’t an app that ever struck me as biased towards one gender or another. So I was a little surprised to receive an email from Toca Boca today to advise that a new, more gender-neutral, version of the app has been made available in the iTunes app store (sorry Android users, this one is still iOS only), and to celebrate it is being given away for free (normal price £1.99) until October 1st.
Here’s what the press release had to say:
Having undertaken an internal study of its existing products with gender analysts and experts, Toca Boca realised that Toca Robot Lab, although a popular toy with more than 750,000 downloads, actually had many of the conventional ‘boyish’ attributes traditionally associated with robots. The original product also cemented an inherently grown-up view of what a robot is, and as such, the app offered kids very traditional materials.
We downloaded the new version (it’s a free update for existing owners) and have had a quick play. The app still retains its charming simplicity – you build a robot up from constituent parts, selecting legs, boy, arms and head, and then you can “fly” it around a little maze, collecting stars, solving simple little puzzles and eventually being picked up by the big magnet at the end.
The changes are subtle, and mostly appear to be in the robot construction part of the app. Toca Boca have added many more things that you can build your robot out of, and again I’m going to use their own words direct from the press release:
Children can create robots out of various reused and sustainable materials, including sweets, beads, coffee cups, electronic devices, straws, ping-pong paddles and pencils, all available in a multitude of colours and options. The new Toca Robot Lab offers more than 1.8 million different combinations of robot – creating a toy that stimulates children’s creativity without unduly steering the direction of play.
The kids have really enjoyed rediscovering an old favourite app, and whilst I didn’t think it needed any changes I’m very impressed that Toca Boca have taken the time to examine their older apps to ensure they are still in line with their company values. I like the way that kids can now make robots out of things they might find around the house, and I hope this will stimulate some screen-free play as well. Toca Robot Lab is probably best for pre-schoolers, although my school-age kids still love it, and my son has been playing it since he was a toddler!
If you have a young child and don’t already own Toca Robot Lab I would recommend grabbing it whilst it’s free. If you’re reading this post after October 1st I’m afraid you’ve missed the free window, but I still think it’s worth the £1.99 cost. You can download it from the app store here: Toca Robot Lab (affiliate link).
Disclosure: App Store links in this post are affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase after clicking I receive, at no additional cost to you, a small commission. If you download Toca Robot Lab whilst it’s free, I don’t get any commission.