You may have noticed that on the front page of the 2019 LEGO sets there is a little QR code. So, what does this code do? If you have a barcode reader on your phone or tablet, scanning the QR code will take you to the LEGO Life website and encourages you to download the free LEGO Life app. The LEGO Life app provides a safe online community, suitable for children ages 5 and up. It allows kids to conquer cool challenges, get digital building instructions, watch fun videos, see creations from other LEGO fans, and even share their own creations. Due to the extensive safety and online privacy features, the app has limited use for teen and adult fans, however the recently added features accessed with the QR code reader are something that older LEGO fans may appreciate as well.
Once you download the LEGO Life app to your phone or tablet, you can click on the little plus sign at the bottom right corner of the app, then select the icon that looks like an instruction booklet with a magnifying glass over it. This will open up the app’s QR code reader. Now, scan the QR code on the front page of any instruction booklet, which will automatically bring up the set within the app. Alternatively, you can use the magnifying glass at the bottom navigation bar of the app and type in the set number to access the same page.
Once you pulled up a specific set, you may find one, two, or three options. For older sets with no QR code at the front page, the only option will be to download the PDF version of the instruction booklet. This is the same PDF that you can get through the LEGO customer service building instructions page.
The second option is called Instruction Plus, which is only available for recently released sets. This is also a building instruction, but fully interactive. If there is more than one separate section for the set, you can select which one you want to build first. Once in the instruction, you are first presented with the parts you need for each step, then on the following screen, you are shown how to put them together before going to the next step – very similar to what you would find in a regular LEGO instruction booklet. However, some key differences make the app very cool. You can rotate pieces/sections around, flip them, zoom in and out, etc. This is particularly useful when you want to understand a building step better. There is also a special ghost mode, which allows you to see your progress in relation to the entire build by superimposing the section you built over the final model.
The third option that’s currently only available on some of the recently released sets is called Build Ideas. These are basically alternate instructions for building other models with the pieces from a particular set. This is going to be especially useful for people who would like to build and rebuilt their sets in different ways, and also for parents who want their kids to get more out of a set than just building the main model. So far, the alternate instructions I have seen are few and simple. They are meant to be seeds for inspiration and ideas rather than fully refined models. Another reason for the simplicity is that step-by-step instructions aren’t included for these alternate models. Instead, there are clear pictures of the pieces needed as well as the model itself from multiple angles. These alternate models are currently designed by LEGO’s own designers, but there are plans for involving the larger LEGO fan community in the future.
Another feature you can access from this page is to add the set you are building to your collection. I noticed that this does make the instructions load faster when you open them up at a later time. Apparently, they get saved under your account. And this feature also allows you to access your sets from one convenient place. You can find all the sets you added to your collection under the yellow minifig head icon at the bottom navigation bar of the app. Tapping on the icon will open up your account page, where you can click on the My Sets icon at the at the top navigation tab to find all your sets.
In summary, although the LEGO Life app is primarily meant for children, teen and adult builders may also find the app’s digital instructions feature useful. You can scan the QR code on instruction booklets (or use the search feature for set numbers), and access traditional PDF instructions, interactive instructions (for sets released in 2019 and beyond), and even alternate models. I do recommend checking it out. Even if you prefer paper instructions, having a digital alternative can be useful in certain situations. I find the rotate and zoom feature especially helpful while working on more complex models. If you are interested, you can download the free LEGO Life app via Google Play for Android devices, the App Store for Apple devices, and Amazon for Kindle tablets.
What do you think? Have you been using the LEGO Life app? Did you try out the instructions section yet, especially Instructions Plus? What was your experience? Are there any features that you like/don’t like? Feel free to share your thoughts and discuss in the comment section below!
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