I’ve learned a lot about children’s apps in the 12 months since I launched Ferdinand Fox’s Big Sleep – not least just how difficult it is to make kids’ apps findable in that vast and swelling ocean that is the App Store.
The App Store Kids’ Category
When Apple introduced its App Store Kids’ Category in July 2013 it was to sighs of relief from both parents and developers…
- Parents were promised a place to find kids’ apps that would be free of advertising and protect kids from access to in-app purchasing links.
- Developers and authors who met Apple’s rules around privacy, advertising and in-app purchases looked forward to a dedicated section of the App Store that they could name and point to in their promotions, and within which they could aim to rise on merit.
The only little hiccup in all of this is that it turns out that the Kids’ Category doesn’t include all qualifying apps – rather it’s made up of a limited selection of Editors’ Picks from them. Given the sheer number of apps out there it’s clear that curation is needed. But I expect I’m not the only developer to be confused and disappointed by the decision to leave the remaining qualifying apps outside in the wider App Store, mixed in with kids’ apps that include advertising and unfettered access to in-app purchases, and often alongside apps aimed at teenagers or adults.
So where, besides the Kids’ Category, can parents go to easily browse safe, ad-free apps for their kids? Similarly where can authors and developers turn to make their family friendly, ad-free apps easier to find?
Step up Moms With Apps…
The wonderful new Moms With Apps website brings together over 1,000 safe apps for kids that are designed by parents for parents.
These apps not only promise to safeguard children’s privacy and exposure to advertising and in-app purchases – but are also instantly searchable by a wide range of criteria, allowing parents to narrow (or broaden) their choice based on device, age range, educational attributes, special needs, subject matter and much more.
Know What’s Inside
A key USP of Moms With Apps is their Know What’s Inside program. All developers submitting apps to the site commit to (a) meeting certain quality criteria set by Moms With Apps and (b) making this information clear when promoting the app. The apps are of course vetted for compliance.
This means that as you browse the site, each app’s product page spells out exactly what you will find inside in the way of privacy settings and links, and whether or not these are behind a parental gate. No apps contain advertising.
Excerpt from Ferdinand Fox’s Big Sleep product page
Easy, simple navigation
Beyond a first-class proposition and content, what is equally pleasing is just how simple the Moms With Apps site is to use. This is web design at its very best – plain English, simple navigation, quick and easy to make purchases. And a very nice touch is that you can read the biogs and see photos of the developers and authors behind the apps.
Meet the authors and developers
I can’t remember the last time I felt so enthused about a site – it’s quiet and it’s clean, and it meets a huge market need. If you have kids who use apps, please check it out and help spread the word! So much hard work goes into creating these apps and it’s gratifying to find a site that has put so much into helping parents discover them.
If you have 2-5 year-olds (or young children learning English as a foreign language) do visit Ferdinand Fox’s Big Sleep via the Moms With Apps page above – it will take you on to the App Store where you’ll find plenty of reviews both in the UK and USA. You can also see demo videos of the app in action here.
The Book App Alliance
I can’t end this post without mentioning The Book App Alliance of which I’m a member. Discovering them around the time I launched Ferdinand Fox’s Big Sleep was a life-saver for me as I felt very much alone in the brave new world of apps. In fact it was not unlike when I discovered that The Alliance of Independent Authors was about to launch and knew that I would at last have a community of like-minded people to swap ideas with.
If you’re a librarian, teacher, reviewer or in publishing, or have a professional interest in interactive reading for kids, you can become an Associate Member of the Alliance for free.
Whether you’re an author, developer or parent/teacher/librarian – please feel free to leave comments below about how you go about finding or indeed promoting your app. For the record, I’ll be posting separately on the thorny issue of paid vs “free” apps in due course. And if you’re new to my site and are an author thinking about app development, don’t miss my post last year on creating a children’s book app.