Bottom line: Wildly fun, this app lets kids easily make their own music videos in a way that's both accessible and creative without being too cutesy. It's FREE!
If you would like to unleash your inner diva like Tina did on last night's Glee or just want to get a fun app for your kids, download RokLienz: Rok Out (Free, iPad/iPhone) using the Smart Apps for Kids link:
I heard that this is Ron's new favourite app so I was worried in case I hated it (no pressure). Thankfully I needn't have worried as Roklienz: Rok Out Concert! - Make your own music video! by Creativity Inc. is a winner. Ron's wholesale enjoyment of it is validation of one of the things I find most appealing about the app - it has the capacity to engage children of all ages. In particular, for those of you who are constantly on the lookout for apps for older special needs children that don't require advanced skills to play but are not focused on toddler and preschool characters - definitely check out this one.
When the app is first opened, kids discover they can initially play only one song. However, the more they use the app and its features, the more songs are unlocked, which is a nice use of play being its own reward. There are nine stage sets to choose from so little Biebsters select one, choose their band members and are then ready to make a video! Tapping on each band member gets him singing or playing his musical instrument and young directors can drag and drop them until they're happy with their positions on the set. When ready, kids hit the record button and create an MTV-ready masterpiece - videos are stored on the iDevice's camera roll.
The app is free to download and includes four band members with the option to purchase an additional four band members for either 99 cents each or $2.99 for the lot. Fans of Madonna and Lady GaGa will be happy to know they can change the look of the musicians by adding skins to their musical instruments as well as hats and other accessories to the people themselves. I use the word 'people' loosely here - these musicians are from other planets, as outlined in their biographies. I loved the quirky bios of these characters; for example, we learn that Runkle Rux (a green, lizard-like fellow), in addition to being the best hyper-guitar player in the universe, enjoys popcorn, fast cars and bubble baths. Rock and Roll meets metrosexual.
There's lots to get excited about here - the graphics are fun with a counter-culture feel that seems appropriate for the rock n' roll alien lifestyle depicted; the music is surprisingly good and enjoyable to listen to; the app is easy to use with lots of different variables (not only sets, but the songs sound different depending on which band members users choose to play them); the band bios are funny and little stylists get to play dress up with each musician. Since kids don't need to read or write to Rok Out as no earth language is used (the singers use sounds rather than words), the appeal of the app is universal. Did I mention it's free to download? What's not to like?
The only downside for me is the ease with which you can make in-app purchases - yes, you can disable them in settings but if a kid loves this app, and most will, the ability to buy extra band members is very 'in your face' and will doubtless result in lots of 'please, please, please, please' ad nauseum. In addition, this app is perfect for special needs kids as it's so accessible but those same kids often have particular difficulty with concepts like waiting and delayed gratification. I know that market forces are pushing developers into creating apps with in-app purchases but I ask them to please consider two things:
- Lock up the in-app purchases. In this case, put the extra band members in a parents-only section that is protected by a passcode or some other mechanism. If the kids are having fun with the free portion of the app, the parents can then decide to purchase the extra band members as a surprise treat or reward. It's not hard to do and it generates goodwill in your buyers, which is just smart business practice.
- And/or create additional versions of your apps that those of us who don't like in-app purchases can just buy. Users can then gift the apps to others they know that would enjoy the app.
So, with the caveat that the in-apps are, in my opinion, too accessible, this app is definitely worth downloading. It might not set your children on the road to being the next David Fincher but they'll have a lot of fun playing it. There's nothing wrong with using the iPad for a little non-educational entertainment once in while either. And for those who can't get enough of the alienz, there is a new app with interactive toys expected in late March. Did I hear something about a giveaway?
Deanne Shoyer, whose favourite music video director is Spike Jonze is part of the British invasion. You can write on her Wonderwall at smallbutkindamighty.com. smartappsforkids.com was paid a priority-review fee to complete this review in an expedited manner.