App Reviewed on: iPad 3
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Re-use / Replay Value Rating:
Sago Mini Doodlecast is a universal app that I have wanted to review for a few weeks now but needed a time for my busy son and I to test it together. Unlike other applications my boy has enjoyed helping me with, where a positive reaction consists of my son taking the iPad and insisting on the chance to explore without distraction, Sago Mini Doodlecast is a creative, open-ended drawing app that family members and friends will be delighted to share.
This is a new app by the developers at Sago Sago, the dream team made up of developers of Toca Boca and zinc Roe, who have joined forces to develop Sago Mini apps for toddlers and the preschool set. Sago Mini Doodlecastis based on an earlier app with a related name, Doodlecast for Kids, now updated with the familiar zinc Roe and Sago Sago characters seen throughout this series of applications.
I enjoy how this app offers a menu of 36 different pages with a few words and images that can be used as a platform to jumpstart a child’s creative process as they draw pictures to complete the set-up provided; such as being given a simple drawing of a mouth, with children ultimately being asked “Whose mouth is this?” or an image of a place setting with the question “What’s your favorite food?” delivered within the text as well as pleasant narration. Other scenes include Sago Sago animals with questions such as "Who is Robin kissing?" or "What makes Harvey the dog grumpy or feel yucky?" complete with wonderfully emotive illustrations one can work from.
A video is then made of the user answering these questions as the drawing that children produce is captured in real time, creating wonderful child-like animation as well as recording any cute commentary that children and their adults or others talk about during these videos. The effect, although not great art in most cases, will be heart-warming to adults as they get to capture a moment in time with their children as they explore their imaginations together. I do appreciate how open-ended this app is as my son has drawn animals who live on a farm or a blue puddle to answer a question about naming something that is wet.
Three brush sizes are available; those being the small, medium, and large tips of a pencil, crayon, and marker. I also like the ability to pause a recording as well. Nine colors are included such as typical shades of red, blue, or yellow, as well as a darkest brown - almost black, but my son did ask why white is not also a color option. As an eraser is included, white is no longer needed to be used to cover up accidental marks but could be used to add details to colored areas of the page - a missed opportunity we would love to see included in a future update. As drawing apps go, the colors and tools featured seem on the basic side, but they make the layout of the drawing page as clean and uncluttered as possible - not really a flaw within this app, as it is the narration alongside of the image - no matter how slight - which is the star of this show.
When complete, this video - like those from the original Doodlecast for Kids - can be replayed for all to enjoy. Unlike the first development of this app, here Jinja the cat is seen patiently watching for the video to unfold as well. I adore how when the video is over she graciously turns to the viewer, claps, and meows every so politely.
I applaud Sago Sago for choosing Jinja to have her back to the camera as she gazes with the viewer at the animated artwork on the screen, with charming, be it minute details; such as her ears twitching or head nodding - elements that may be lost on some yet add so much polish and humanism to this character and this app as a whole.
It is also very nice how the Sago Sago sentence that started all the creativity - both text as well as narration - is included in the completed video, be it saved within this app or on one’s device to re-watch or share with others. I do wish, however, that one had the option of including Jinja in the corner of these videos as well.
I remember making a “Harold and the Purple Crayon” reference when reviewing the related first app, and I must say that this title came to mind as my son and I worked with this new version as children and adults create stories from simple lines drawn with fingers, now tucked away on parents' devices and not taking up space on the walls or refrigerators of their homes.
As we are not a family who draws well, so I can’t help but feel a little self-conscious about how our drawing projects turn out. I am however relieved to see that this concern has not yet been passed down to my son, who is very proud of the movies he has made, as am I.
I am happy to see that a blank page is also available. As a non-drawer, I, as in the first version of this app, enjoy watching my printed messages from my son, narrated with my voice as letters take shape on the screen. They allow one to work on handwriting numbers, and math as well as anything else one sees fit making this a very open-ended app, to be sure.
It is also worth noting that one can limit the video lengths to 10 minutes as well as maximum of 20 saved images in the gallery if a parent sees fit, as well as choose from an impressive list of many languages this app can be enjoyed in. It would be nice if one could access the saved completed videos from the menu of theme pages, and I would love to see a blank page offered within these menu areas as well for easy access - minor details that would add to the ease of use for children. Even with this note, Sago Mini Doodlecast is a lovely app that will create digital keepsakes that parents will cherish. I can imagine families - especially those with artists in the house - making wonderfully animated stories that will be treasured for a long time to come.