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Google upgrades its free kids’ animation app to 3D

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Google is releasing a new version of its free animation app for kids, giving the software the new ability to work in 3D. The upgrade is a big visual step-up for the app, which is moving from a 2D paper-cut-out style, to a low-poly but high-resolution look. Of course, the new Toontastics 3D isn’t as sophisticated as professional 3D animation software (it’s not clear how much you can roam about any scene or adjust the camera angle and so on), but it does look fun to use.

The basic premise of the app remains the same: it’s an animation tool for kids to make movies for fun or for education (or, here’s a crazy idea: both). You pick a premade scene, load in some characters, and create a storyboard with movements and audio. You can also draw your own characters, add pictures taken from mobiles and tablets to stories, and record your own audio. The original version was a New York Times app of the year back in 2012 (before Google bought the company that makes it); let’s hope the upgrade retains its charms.