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Price: Free to download
Subscription: $4/£4 monthly or $30/£30 yearly
Size: 916 MB
Developer: Pok Pok
Comprised of seven main scenes – with the developers working on more – this virtual toy box is a veritable treasure trove of goodies for curious and creative children. Most scenes are little more than a series of lightly interactive illustrations, but it’s this confident simplicity that provides little ones with a chance to use their imaginations.
Each scene, carefully constructed from vibrant hand-drawn artwork, can be poked, prodded, and tinkered with to produce various joyful sounds and reactions. There’s no beginning or end, no right or wrong way to play – just a suite of tools that allow kids to experiment, tinker, and create their own stories.
Pok Pok is designed with those aged 2-6 in mind, but we tested it with little ones slightly younger and slightly older than recommended and both found it engaging for different reasons.
Smaller children will enjoy the tactile chaos of it all, flicking virtual switches and winding cranks to learn about cause and effect. Meanwhile, older children will have a blast searching through the app’s more ambitious scenes, moving people and objects around a giant doll’s house, or finding hidden gems amongst a giant interactive townscape.
Even as an adult, we found some of these toys satisfying and relaxing – the shape toy in particular, in which colorful blobs serenely float around, emitting calming musical blips and bloops when dragged into one another. It’s all rather hypnotic, and could easily be remarketed as a stress-buster for grown-ups.
Also included are drawing tools, a mix-and-match game of blocky doll parts, and a remarkably inclusive globe scene with encyclopedia-like depictions of almost any animal or object you can imagine.
Smartly, it’s all designed with sharing in mind so multiple kids can play together on the same screen. Set up Guided Access Mode to keep little ones from switching apps and they really can guide themselves through the virtual playroom without help.
The whole thing is designed in collaboration with educators from around the world, with learning prompts to boost creativity and no ads – or even words – in sight. You can tell it’s a labor of love from its makers.
The downside to the whole experience is the price – $4/£4 monthly or $30/£30 yearly – which is the main reason the app doesn’t boast a full five-star App Store rating. For seven toys in one, in a neat package that allows even the youngest to engage in self-directed play, that arguably represents decent value – but if your kids get bored quickly or have dozens of apps already, this kind of subscription soon adds up.
It’s worth noting that the fees allow for frequent updates to the app, but we wonder if the devs will ever succumb to the pressure and add a lifetime unlock IAP for subscription-phobes.
Either way, this really is a shining example of what a digital toy can be – we can see why it won an Apple Design Award earlier this year in the “delight and fun” category. If you have children of single-digit age, we can heartily recommend giving it a whirl.
- Varied collection of fun interactive toys
- Charming artwork and sound effects
- Encourages sharing, creativity, and curiosity
- The payment model may irk some users