Like most good parents, I try to limit the amount of "screen time" Lucy gets. It really isn't too hard -- Lucy is naturally very active and curious, and the TV typically just doesn't hold her interest for very long. There are those times, though, when an episode of My Little Pony is necessary to get a meal prepared or to distract her from the pain of teething for just a little bit. Rather than just point her at the big TV, though, we've found that the iPad and iPhone are perfect for these little distractions. Well, almost perfect.
The one problem with watching videos on a touch-sensitive device with a toddler is that when they see something that excites them, inevitibly they will want to touch it. With an iPad or iPhone, this means skipping around, pausing, or leaving the app completely. Over the course of the past year, I have been looking for a good video player app that would solve this problem, but came up empty.
So I built one.
I'm excited to announce that the LittleFingers Video Player is available worldwide in the App Store for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. It's built from the ground up to be a kid friendly video player that parents can use to play videos for their children without worrying about their excitement accidentally stopping playback. Here's how it works.
Browse through the different video sources on your device. LittleFingers works with the videos you already have, like the movies, TV shows, video podcasts and music videos in your Movies or iPod app, home movies in your Camera Roll, or video files you import directly into LittleFingers using iTunes. Just select a category of videos ad browse the list. When you find the video you want to play, just select it in the list.
Once the video has started playing, tap the lock icon in the lower left corner of the screen. The titlebar and video controls will slide away, leaving the viewer free to watch the show without distraction. At this point, any screen touches will be completely ignored so your little one can watch the show uninterrupted.
When you're ready to get the controls back, it's just a few simple swipes. The default unlock code is 3-2-1: Swipe from top to bottom with 3 fingers, again with 2 fingers, and then with 1. Presto! The video controls slide back into view so you can pause or go back to the video listing.
LittleFingers also has a handy home tab that lists your most recently viewed videos, as well as videos from all categories marked as favorites. Your kids' favorites are just a tap away.
And this is just the beginning. I have some really cool ideas for upcoming versions of LittleFingers, so if you have little one that like to watch videos on your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch, you're definitely going to want to check it out. It will be priced at $1.99, but for its first week of availability in the App Store, it will be on sale for $0.99.
I'm really excited that an app like this exists now, and I hope you'll help me spread the word to any parents you know that might be interested in something like this. The app can be purchased in the app store, or you can read more about it at http://littlefingersapp.com. We're also on Facebook and Twitter, if you'd prefer to follow updates there.