Puppet Pals 2 is a creative app produced by Polished Play, LLC that allows users to create animated stories using digital puppets. A form of digital storytelling, this app enables children to create short films through the use of background templates, animated puppet characters, and the capabilities of voice recording. For example, a user can create a story about the Wild West, using templates of a cowboy and horse. Users of all ages can move the puppets across the screen with a swipe of their finger while recording the audio story to go along with the action. Personalized puppets can also be created by taking photos and cutting them to size, though this option costs an additional fee. Finished recordings can then be saved and exported. Other versions, such as Puppet Pals HD and Puppet Pals 2: School Edition, are also available.
As one of the first apps to offer a simple and easy way to create digital shorts, Puppet Pals is popular with teachers and educators because it can be used in various ways. The creators offer a parent-teacher guide on their website that contains many ideas for its use at home and in the classroom that include using the app to create short instructional videos, book reports, and presentations. It is also presented as a way to help shy public speakers present to a group or to help second language learners practice their fluency and language skills via practice with dialogue. The app can indeed be used for these purposes though there are now many similar apps available that advertise the same purposes but offer more flexibility and options.
Puppet Pals 2 is available for free download on both the iPhone and iPad, though as is, it is quite sparse. The download only comes with a few basic characters and backgrounds and more options are only available through additional in-app purchases; for example, a fantasy character pack is an additional $0.99. A review by Christopher Healy via Common Sense Media noted this bare bones approach saying, “It lacks many of the bells and whistles that similar apps, such as Toontastic and PlayTime Theater, feature…the limited character set is not really enough to have much fun. To get truly creative, you’d need to buy more with the in-app purchases option.” Customer reviews that share similar sentiments are abundant on various review sites including Apple’s iTunes site and Edshelf. Overall, this app is recommended as a basic and engaging example of digital storytelling; however its fullest potential is only reached with the purchase of additional items and options.
– J. Yi