Created with the help of digital design studio and Monument Valley developer ustwo, Sky Kids is a colourful and incredibly simple app. That's intentional, with channel logos and lead characters populating a visually driven UI that keeps text to a minimum. Most of the app's target demographic only have basic reading skills, after all. Parents can set up individual profiles for up to ten kids (good luck getting them to share), which all have personalised homescreens based on age and gender.
These homescreens suggest appropriate shows, highlight new content available on the service and group episodes based on specific themes. At the moment, there's an Easter-themed section, though this will be swapped out for something else soon enough. Depending on the age of the child, parents can either give them full access to the complete Sky Kids catalogue, or only the providers making shows aimed at the very young.
This is the sum of parental controls for now, but Sky is working on adding usage limits with a special bedtime setting. Rather than simply telling children they've exhausted their cartoon allowance, the "Sky Buddy" character kids pick when they first load up the app will get sleepy and announce it's too tired to keep streaming. There are other features still in development, too, including the ability to download shows for offline viewing.
Sticky fingers can navigate the app in various ways. Beyond the personalised start screen, the home button brings up a grid of channels to choose from, though these also exist in an infinite carousel that can be cycled through by swiping or prodding at on-screen arrow keys -- the idea is that children never get "stuck" in the UI because they aren't used to gestures, or buttons, or menus. The persistent player is equally simple, and kids can keep watching a show while they find what they want to put on next. Tap or swipe to expand the player and all you'll find is a big play/pause button, a slider for skipping forward and backward, and a red "X" to minimise.
And.. that's about it. There are no search or discovery features to complicate things. Just channels, shows and episodes, all available on-demand to anyone with a Sky subscription and the appropriate channel bundle. The Sky Kids app itself will be available to download on iOS and Android tablets from tomorrow, but the broadcaster has decided to do more than aggregation. Sky announced today that it will begin producing kids TV in-house, starting with new episodes of Morph -- the clay character's second comeback in as many years.