Written by Artyom Diogtev, Head of Social Media at the ComboApp
A brand new addition with the arrival of iOS 7 – at least in terms of App Store offerings – is a new category: Kids. Since the App Store was launched in the summer of 2008 a great deal of games and educational apps were dedicated to kids, but they never had their own dedicated home. I think the ease with which kids are embracing iOS devices for games, combined with the williness of their parents to encourage this experience to flow into educational focuses has led to a wealth of apps geared towards kids. With so many apps available, for a while the only way to find specific, quality apps for your child was via one of the following techniques:
1. Going into the Games / Kids or Games / Educational categories on the App Store and skipping through an endless number of apps, trying to find the ones you need by reading its title and description.
2. Searching through the App Store using keywords you believe describe an app for your child would like.
Both strategies had serious limitations. The first option led you to be unable to find app for specific ages. Kids grow up fast and it’s a no brainer that an app that will delight 3 year olds will bore a 7 year old. The second option was – and unfortunately still is – limited by the App Store’s search functions’ semantic capabilities. Try to search the App Store using 4-5 word-long search queries for specific apps for your child and chances are you’ll get no search results. That doesn’t happen because the App Store doesn’t have the app(s) you need, it’s because its search engine is far from perfect.
iOS 7 has been making great strides from that reality though. A new category has been introduced – Kids (as we’ve already mentioned). Let’s take a close look at it.
The shortest route to access this category is to open the App Store and go to the Featured section where you’ll see that Kids category button right under the Best New Apps category. The best of the best apps, the ones that show the greatest number of downloads on launch, as well as those with the highest ratings will be shown in the upper banner. Then come the 3 major age subdividers – Best for Ages 5 & Under, Best for Ages 6-8 and Best for Ages 9-11 with a Browse by Collection and Browse by Brand sections. Each age category has 3 sortings as well – by name, release date, and those apps which are featured. This means of sorting isn’t new though, so let’s focus on more the interesting subject – Browse by Collection section.
Think of these collections as smart filters in your email client but picked up through manually. They aren’t meant to replace App Store categories but do allow you to slice and dice them differently in an effort to resolve any discoverability issues.
The first collection is Learning Made Fun and it’s dedicated to 3 subjects – Math, the ABCs, and programming. Actually, the inclusion of programming in this kids’ age category gave me a pause for concern – just kidding – it’s not about programming in Java or something :-), it’s about the very basics of programming. This category consists of both paid and free apps on the same list since it has only several dozen carefully chosen apps and, quite honestly, with the freemium model trending it’s no longer relevant to judge an app’s quality by it’s price. So many of the best apps in every category are free with in-app purchase options and their numbers grow daily.
So the purpose of this category is quite clear – it’s about introduction kids into the world of math and alphabet, every parent who has come through this path knows that it may be quite challenging to teach your child how to count and read. I see this category as the direct answer on a very common problem parents are having in mind as they’re taking their iPad from a coffee table and start searching. The fact that this category has a finite number of apps doesn’t mean that you as a developer should stop creating new educational apps, it’s the ongoing challenge and there is always room to create a better app. I know it’s hard to believe but simply check this category in a few weeks and you’ll completely new apps being featured here.
Next up is Interactive Kids Stories. In a sense we all, adults included, are kids at heart. Throughout our lives we’ve all loved stories, we love great stories in fact. In this category you’ll find stories you would love to tell your children before they go to bed. I would say that among other kids of apps for kids this is the one that deals with a child psychology the most. Again, as you look through this category you’re essentially have your question – what story to tell your child tonight before she or he will go to bed.
The next collection is really the one that wasn’t presented on the App Store before in any way, shape, or form, it’s Montesorri Apps. If you’re a fan of Montesorri education you already know what this category is about but if you don’t – check out this wiki article for the lowdown.
The Shapes and Colors collection pretty much speaks for itself. It helps children to become familiar with the many colors and shapes that surround them daily. It really pays an effort to pick up the best apps that are capable to do it effectively, this kind of introduction requires knowing kids physocology and if you ever browse through apps about shapes and colors on the App Store you know that many of them are generic as they aren’t based on educational material.
Musical apps collection is dedicated to encourage kids desire to sing and play music. It’s interesting that currently this collection has less than 10 apps, which speaks to the fact that since the Kids category was introduced a month ago, there aren’t many apps being selected to be presented here. It raises the chances of a musical app for kids to get visibility.
First Words & Numbers - this collection is intended for apps that suppose to help kids with learning letters and words. In a sense it’s similar to the Learning Made Fun collection but with the stress on the very young age.
Princesses. Ok if you are a father and you have a toddler age daughter you’ve heard so many times about princess from your daughter and most likely you helped her to look for another app about them. Here comes a helping hand from Apple to make this task easier :-) Right – this category is all about princesses and nothing else, it’s convenient to know that the best apps about princesses are all in one place!
Create & Play. Throughout our lives creativity comes along as one of the most important things. In a sense everything we do at work is about creating something. We all wish our kids better start in life than we had and most certainly an easier ride during their adulthood and so everything that help us to develop creativity in our kids is important! This is the great collection that will help you with exactly that.
Explore the World. Now for this category I have a personal bias, as I would love to see much more apps being picked up for it. Without digressing too much I would just like to remind you (the reader) important education is and in particular what challenges we face with kids education here in US. Basically these apps should help to get kids interested in science, spark their curiosity and lead them to start asking questions about the world around them.
All the collections I’ve just described above can’t and won’t solve the issue of discoverability for apps for kids on the App Store in full. There is no doubt in my mind though that the category structure was carefully thought through and will partly help parents to find apps that will both delight and educate their kids. Unfortunately I don’t think Apple’s approach in introducing collections is capable of increasing app discoverability ease in all App Store categories. You know what though, that’s ok.
About the author:
Artyom Diogtev is the Head of Social Media at the ComboApp full cycle mobile app marketing agency A happily married family man, Art began his career in the tech industry in 2001, gaining a reputation as an SEO specialist before joining ComboApp in 2010. He welcomed a beautiful daughter with his wife in 2005.