Alex Meub

The Yoto Mini is Perfect

The Yoto Mini is one of my favorite products. The team behind it deeply understands its users and put just the right set of features into a brilliantly designed package.

Yoto Mini Player and Cards

I have no affiliation with Yoto, I’m just a happy customer with kids who love it.

If you aren’t aware, Yoto is an audio platform for kids with what they call “screen-free” audio players (even though they have little pixel LED screens on them). The players are Wi-Fi enabled and support playing audio from credit card-sized NFC tags called Yoto cards. Yoto sells audio players and also licenses audio content and offers it on its platform as well.

The cards themselves do not contain any audio data, just a unique ID of the audio content that is pulled from the cloud. After content is pulled on the first play, it is saved and played locally from the player after that. Yoto also supports playing podcasts and music stations without using cards. Their marketing puts a lot of emphasis on the platform being “ad-free” which is mostly true as there are never ads on Yoto cards or official Yoto podcasts. However, some of the other podcasts do advertise their content.

So, what’s so great about the Yoto Mini? This concept isn’t new as there have been many examples of audio players for kids over the years. What sets it apart is how every detail of the hardware, mobile app, and exclusive content is meticulously designed and well executed.

Yoto Mini Hardware

Yoto Mini Knobs

The main input methods of the Yoto Mini are two orange knobs, turning the left knob controls volume and the right knob navigates chapters or tracks. Pressing the right knob instantly plays the Yoto Daily podcast and pressing it twice plays Yoto Radio (a kid-friendly music station). These actions are both configurable in the mobile app. The NFC reader slot accepts Yoto cards and instantly starts playing where you left off after you insert one.

It has a high-quality speaker that can be surprisingly loud, an on/off button, a USB-C charging port, an audio output jack, and a small pixel display that shows images related to the audio content. The Yoto Mini is also surprisingly durable. My kids have dropped it many times on hard surfaces and it still basically looks as good as new.

Yoto understands that the physical audio player itself is primarily used by younger kids and the design reflects this. My 3-year-old daughter was able to figure out how to turn it on/off, start listening to books using cards, and play the Yoto Daily podcast each morning which was empowering for her. This was her first technology product that she was fully capable of using without help from an adult. I can’t think of many other products that do this better.

Yoto Mobile App

Mobile App Screenshot

The Yoto team understands that parents are users of this product too, mostly for managing the device and its content. Yoto has built a very good mobile experience that is tightly integrated with the hardware and provides all the features you’d want as a parent.

From the app, you can start playing any of the content from cards you own on the player or your phone (nice if your kids lose a card), you can set volume limits for both night and day time, you can set alarms, and configure the shortcut buttons. You can record audio onto a blank Yoto card (which comes with the player) if your kid wants to create their own story, link it to their favorite podcast or favorite music. The app even lets you give each track custom pixel art that is displayed on the screen.

Audio Content

By far the most underrated feature is a daily podcast called Yoto Daily. This ad-free podcast is run by a charming British host and it is funny, entertaining, and educational. My kids (now 4 and 7) look forward to it every morning and the fact that it’s daily free content that is integrated directly into the Yoto hardware is amazing. To me, this is the killer feature, as my kids get to enjoy it every day and it’s always fresh and interesting.

Yoto licenses content from child book authors, popular kid’s shows, movies, and music (recently the Beatles) which are made available in their store. I also discovered that Yoto does not seem to lock down its content with DRM. My son traded some Yoto cards with a friend and I assumed there would be some kind of transfer or de-registration process but to my surprise, they just worked without issue.


Yoto Mini Player

The Yoto Mini is a delightful product. The team behind it thought through every detail and made it an absolute joy to use both as a child and parent. I’m impressed at how well the Yoto team understands their users and prioritizes simplicity and ease of use above all else.