Octonauts to your iPads! Official CBeebies app brings kids' favourites to iOS, Android and Kindle

The BBC has launched an official CBeebies app, called CBeebies Playtime, that features a number of hit characters from the dedicated children's channel.

The app offers a basic discovery interface and is highly interactive, taking advantage of many of the hardware features of modern tablets and smartphones, including touch, voice and motion, to engage and entertain children in a variety of ways.

At launch, CBeebies Playtime will centre around some of the channel's best-loved programmes including the Alphablocks, Octonauts, Tree Fu Tom and Something Special.

Each of the sections on offers sticks to the CBeebies mantra for early years which is learning through play. While this is more obvious for the spelling challenges of the Alphablocks, there are also motor skills to be learnt, instructions to be followed and so on.

You'll be able to set up accounts for up to four children to play, with the option to customise accounts with photos and colours so those little ones who can't read yet can still easily access their account. These accounts will keep track of progress, as well as give rewards for achievements.

The CBeebies Playtime app is high quality. It looks fantastic, bringing the rich animation you expect from your TV on to your tablet, but more importantly, it sounds wonderful too. It's narrated by the voices behind the programmes, so Captain Barnacles will be talking you through the Octonauts games, for example.

The app is pitched at early years children up to 6 years old, so is simple in its approach. Only one game - Tree Fu Tom - has an element of failure making the app markedly different from many gaming apps already available on the iPad or Android tablets.

Like the TV programme, Something Special, featuring Mr Tumble, has been designed to accommodate those with special educational needs, so there's a wide range of accessibility options that can be set for the game. You'll be able to change the sizes, speeds, user interface controls and so on to make it appropriate for the child playing.

Parents will also be glad to hear that CBeebies Playtime is advertising free and doesn't include any form of in-app purchasing or open external linking, so your children won't be heading off to by coins and costing you a packet.

There's a section for "grown-ups" which gives you more details on the featured content, tips for play, as well as the option to set a special message for your child - that might be a happy birthday message, for example.

Patrick Healy, head of product at CBeebies and CBBC, told us that the new games app was a reflection of the changing way in which "CBeebies homes" are able to interact with content, with 61 per cent now having access to a tablet device.

CBeebies Playtime is also the first BBC app that sees a cross-platform launch. In the past, many apps have launched on iPhone/iPad first and then come to Android. CBeebies Playtime will launch on iTunes, Google Play and the Kindle Appstore for access on a wide range of devices.

CBeebies Playtime is available from 15 August and is free on Google Play, iTunes, and Kindle Appstore.



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