The humble Rubiks’ Cube has been around for as long as I have been travelling around the sun. With its 43 quintillion possible combinations, it is challenging to learn how to solve one. The GoCube aims to teach you how to solve it with a Bluetooth enabled cube and a companion app.
The Rubik’s Cube has seen a rise and wane of popularity in the decades since it was commercially launched, but it never disappeared from the radar. I can still remember Dad bringing one home when it was first launched while we were living in Hong Kong.
The GoCube is a slick looking unit, and pretty much devoid of texture. The keyword here is slick and whilst it is gorgeous in the hand, it can feel slippery to hold. The squares are solid coloured plastic pieces set in a clear edged frame.
The DRN review unit comes with a charging stand, a custom USB charging cable as well as a carry pouch. When you are playing with the GoCube, the stand doubles as a phone holder so you can follow the companion app.
The custom USB cable can be docked to the stand via a built-in clip. It is one way to keep yourself from misplacing it and secondly, all you need to do is to pop the cube in with the yellow side first to start charging.
The GoCube has a companion app, which is what puts the smarts together with the physical unit. You will need to sign up with your email address in order to access all the features.
Bearing in mind that I tossed the GoCube at a 14 year old, a reasonably tech savvy one, he had zero trouble getting everything up and running. In fact I heard nothing from him until a few days in and he told me how much fun he is having with it. It is hard to get details from a teenager, so for the record I went through and documented the setup process myself.
The GoCube app gives you some language choices – English, French, German, Hebrew, Russian or Spanish. Once you have chosen your language it automatically scans for an available GoCube and found mine drama free. The next step is to sign up to an account and once you have created your account or logged into an existing one, the GoCube flashes white to confirm all is in order.
The home screen shows a real time state of your GoCube reflecting the physical unit. The display may not be in sync and there is a button to help get the cube and the representation on the screen aligned. If your cube is in a solved state, then you are ready to go. Otherwise you have to colour in your cube and load it in the app to continue. If you mess up your colouring, you will get an error message and have to go back and fix it.
Next the app asks you to nominate if you are a beginner, intermediate or a pro-cuber. I chose the beginner option and it took me straight to the Academy.
The Academy is a guided tutorial to get you started on solving the Rubik cube, from the absolute basics. It teaches you about the edge pieces, the center, the corner pieces. It asks you questions to help you understand the cube. Then it teaches you the notations on how algorithms are denoted. It gives you plenty of opportunities to practice (and mess up). The great part is it never gets upset with you, and you can always go back and try again.
As you progress, the difficulty level increases and the app teaches you more complex algorithms. The end goal of the GoCube app is to teach you how to solve the Rubik’s Cube independently.
Like so many things, solving a Rubik’s Cube can be intensely challenging – and the person to start with is you. The app has a personal leaderboard that keeps track of your stats and progress. It makes it simple to see how you are improving in your abilities.
There are also mini games which are a fun little distraction, but also get progressively harder as your abilities improve.
As for the GoCube itself, Jett was impressed by the smooth and snappy rotation. The unit uses 48 rare earth magnets to achieve this feel. It can be fully charged in about 90 minutes and has a 60 hours play time.
If you are stuck and need to solve it, you can always hit the Solve button and the built-in AI solver will guide you from any scrambled state to a solved Cube. Messed up a move? No stress, the app will guide you back onto the right path.
When you have solved the cube, it lights up white to indicate completion and the app also indicates success.
It comes with a carry pouch which will help keep your GoCube in top condition and stop dust and dirt going in when being transported.
Jett also mentioned that it is pretty easy to pull apart if you need to apply lube to the turning mechanism.
If you bored competing against yourself, you can pit yourself against other Cubers on the Internet through the app.
If the cube is out of alignment from what the screen is representing, you can always tap on the sync button on the top right of the screen which is always available.
The charging cable is not the tightest fit into the cube. However if it is connected to the stand, then the connection is not an issue.
The app can be a little unresponsive with extra taps required for it to register input.
A Rubik’s Cube is a gift that keeps on giving. It does so much in terms of cognitive developments for people of all ages. There are plenty of resources out there to teach you how to solve one, but the GoCube does take it a step further with “hands on” personalised teaching.
The GoCube is a well thought out product, and the companion app is the absolute star. It is not cheap with a RRP around AUD$130 mark but with a little care, it is a game that keeps teaching and giving for a long time. With the holiday season not far off, it is well worth considering.
DRN would like to thank GoCube for providing the review unit. There are some small gripes but we think it deserves the Pulse Award. Well done!