The Wiggles get a new augmented-reality app with music and face-masks

Did you grow up with The Wiggles? If you’re Australian, almost certainly yes: the original group of musicians were huge there in the 1990s and 2000s with their albums and shows — but they were popular elsewhere in the world too, like the US and the UK. In recent years, the band has been reinvented with some new, younger members. And now there’s an app for that.

It’s called The Wiggles: Fun Time with Faces, and it came out for Apple’s iPhone and iPad today. Aimed at 2–5 year-old, it features clever use of augmented-reality technology: the kind of face-masks and filters you’d see in social apps like Instagram and Snapchat, except geared towards getting pre-schoolers singing and playing with The Wiggles.

The app can also be used to watch video clips from the band over and over again (as kids are wont to do), but it’s the interactive parts that are most interesting. ‘Fun Time with Songs’ plays various music videos like ‘Rock-a-Bye Bear’ and ‘Do the Propeller’, and switches between video of The Wiggles performing, and the front-facing camera on the device — so that kids can sing along while wearing one of the virtual masks. The results are recorded and saved, so kids can watch themselves back. Over and over again…

There are also a couple of modes using the masks for storytelling and fun play: when I met the app’s developer recently, they had me play a mini-game where I had a dog’s head, and had to stick my tongue out to catch falling items. The promise is that new stories, songs, videos and masks will be added regularly, so that children don’t get bored with the app’s contents.

That’ll also be important if parents are going to pay for the app. It’s free to try everything in it for seven days, but after that some (not all) of the content gets locked away unless you pay a subscription: £1.49 a month or £14.99 a year.

I’ve seen from my own children how fun they find the augmented-reality masks in apps like Snapchat, while also being VERY firm in my belief that they shouldn’t be on that app until they’re old enough.

It’s good to see those kinds of ideas making their way in to apps for kids. And what I also like about the new Wiggles app is the thought that’s clearly gone in to its content: songs, stories and interactivity, rather than simply leaning back and watching video after video.