CBeebies Playtime App on Windows Phone 8

Product Lead

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I’m Patrick Healy, Head of Product for Childrens at BBC Future Media, and I’m delighted to share an update about our recently launched CBeebies Playtime app.

In August we released the app on Android, iOS, and Kindle Fire devices and a little over a month later, we’re now launching it on Windows Phone 8 – available to download for free from the Windows Phone Store.

Children’s media consumption habits are changing rapidly, as highlighted by the recent BBC Trust review into children's services,  and it’s important for us to be able to reach them wherever they are. As mobile and tablets are now commonly used by children, we wanted to provide a new and exciting way of entertaining and educating them on those devices.

CBeebies Playtime App Hub

To provide the best possible handheld experience, we designed the CBeebies Playtime app to be intrinsically native, allowing us to take advantage of a device’s touchscreen, accelerometer, microphone and other features.

As a result, it’s not possible to offer the same content and experience via a mobile website, so people need to download the app, then tap, swipe, tilt and shout away on device with a supported mobile operating system.

The only way we can bring this content to new mobile audiences is through a new native app, which we’ve done for Windows Phone 8 users in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible.

Our strategy from the start of the CBeebies Playtime build was to use a single codebase which can be branched to target our required mobile platforms. Unity was the technology workflow used, allowing us to develop rich 2D and 3D game experiences that could scale.

With that in place, we were able to render the app to iOS, Android, Kindle and now Windows Phone 8 with relative ease. However, we still needed to address the different performance, memory and screen output capabilities across the platforms. The optimisation of the asset sets became the key endeavour, and we’re happy with the results.

By using the single codebase workflow, we can add further games content and features to these platforms as needed, without the overhead of repeating major work for each platform. This allows us to efficiently maintain as synchronised an approach as possible to the releases in each app store.

We are always looking at different platforms and how they evolve. With CBeebies Playtime we are well placed to respond quickly to the introduction and uptake of new technology.

Please do take a look at the app and leave a comment.

Patrick Healey is Head of Product for Childrens at BBC Future Media

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