Gube Gives Kids a Safer YouTube
Kids love iPhones (and iPads). And kids love YouTube. The problem is, there are a lot of videos on YouTube that aren't meant for kids.
Among geek parents, it's a nearly universal challenge, usually involving "helicopter browsing." And it's safe to say parents don't always relish the prospect of watching everything their kids want to watch.
Local developer Chad Podoski has a 19-month-old son, and fortunately, he also has the talent to do something to help. His solution? Gube for iPhone.
"The idea came about as a quick sprint project earlier in the summer with myself and my business partner Jason Skicewicz," Podoski explains. "There are a few other kid YouTube apps in the App Store, but I did not really care for their interfaces, nor did they solve my main problem: providing a toddler-proof mode that would loop across a set of videos."
Gube — a combination of "Gavin" (his son's name) and "Tube" — offers a curated, kid-safe library of real YouTube videos. The videos are reviewed by real people, categorized by age group, and searchable. Once launched, you can let your young child browse on their own through age-appropriate videos (for infants, toddlers, preschool, and grade school).
Of course, the "home" button is the Achilles' heel of any kid's app, and Podoski acknowledges that it's a little too easy for a youngster to escape the safe, moderated garden of Gube. For that, he says the simple BubCap can help.
"Gube in continuous play mode plus the BubCap? Toddler tantrum kryptonite," he says.
Behind the Gube iPhone app, Podoski explains that there's an associated Django/Python web service that it interacts with. But while the plumbing came together quickly, the polish took a little longer.
"I'd say 90 percent of the app was built over the course of one week, but the design and polish dragged on for quite a while as I found time to work it in between contract work," he says.
Of course, kids love iPads, too, and the larger screen would be perfect for watching videos.
"Next steps for the app, if it does well, are to quickly build out an iPad version of the UI," he notes. "I have planned on that since the beginning, so it should be really quick, if it is warranted."
Beyond that, Podoski envisions doing more with video statistics, allowing Gube to offer customized video suggestions that will help kids find new videos they'll enjoy. And he even things there could be more for the animated Gube character to do throughout the app, as young Gavin seems to be a fan of the little guy.
But Gube is only one of many things Podoski and Skicewicz have percolating in the Shacked workshop.
"It is kind of ridiculous right now, actually, as we have like more than four active projects," Podoski says. "We should be releasing at least three more apps this year."
And there's still Flickpad, an iPad app to browse photos. I reviewed FlickPad last August, but the Shacked team has been working on it as well.
"I actually just pushed a new build of Flickpad to the app store for review that you might really like," Podoski says. "I added Facebook sharing to it, as well as native Facebook liking — their API is finally supporting liking on photos, woohoo!"
To keep up with the Shacked team and its projects, you can follow them on Facebook, on Twitter @chadpod, @jskitz, and @shackedapps. And, of course, there's the Shacked website.
Here are some screenshots from Gube, which is available on the App Store for $3.99 now:
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