Annoyance factors & customization: evaluating apps for kids
Today I want to talk about annoyance factors in apps and ebooks, and this is a little bit difficult because it’s largely subjective. We can probably all agree that adds in apps are a huge annoyance, but a voice that sounds like nails on a chalkboard to me might be perfectly pleasant to you, and vice versa. That’s why customization features in apps and ebooks are so wonderful.
I love apps that allow you to turn the reader’s voice on or off, and bonus points to those apps that allow you to choose from multiple voices. Turning music on and off is another common feature. One of my frustrations with the Freight Train app is that the music (with lyrics) plays OVER the book narration. Whose genius idea was that? But at least you can turn the music off and just read through the book.
I’ve been very happy with most of the apps I’ve seen from Learning Touch, but the narrator/singer’s voice in the First Letters app makes me contemplate violence. HULK SMASH IPAD!!!! Your mileage may vary. So far, my son seems largely unbothered by the things that drive me bonkers, but since we are trying to encourage parents to use electronic media alongside their children, the parental reaction has to be considered as well. Let parents know that they frequently have choices in how the app plays and sounds.
Free versions of apps are typically ad supported, and many apps will try to get you to purchase additional features or more apps from the same company. Even though you can turn off the possibility of in-app purchases on many devices, it’s still often possible for children to accidentally exit the app and open a website. As much as possible I only use free apps for evaluation purposes and spring for the paid version for the apps I want to keep. It reduces that particular annoyance significantly.
When you’re evaluating apps, try to consider whether aspects of the app might be annoying to some people and look for customization options that let you minimize the annoyance factors.