Bottom line: A free, curated, store-within-a-store for children's apps, that is worth downloading but needs tighter search criteria.
There are thousands of children's apps in iTunes which presents parents with a problem. How do you find good apps that address the needs of your children? Word of mouth is often the most effective method and that's what most parents do - ask their friends for recommendations. However, not every parent has tried every app, and often, when parents have had idevices for some time, they have downloaded hundreds if not thousands of apps and can find it hard to recollect specific ones to recommend. Review sites like Smart Apps for Kids play a big role as well of course - by searching our reviews by subject, parents can identify apps that their friends may not have heard of and use our review to determine if the app is likely to be a good fit for their child.
WeWantApps! by developer Goodbeans is a new app that seeks to make it easier for parents to find good kids' apps and share recommendations with friends. It's similar in concept to KinderTown but the breadth of apps is wider in terms of children's age ranges and the languages they are offered in. While KinderTown focuses on apps with an educational purpose, WeWantApps! also sifts through games and book apps in order to come up with recommendations.
Here's how the app works:
- The parent selects the relevant search criteria: age range of the child from toddlers to teens aged 14+, whether they are looking for an educational app, game or book, the language(s) the apps are offered in (current options are English, German, Spanish and Chinese), the type of platform the app works on (iPhone, iPad or Universal) and whether they are looking for free and/or paid apps.
- Searches can be saved.
- For apps that a parent has and recommends, they can show other users this by clicking 'Like' on the app. Other parents searching for apps can easily see if an app has been 'liked' by other users and if so, how many users recommend it.
- If you go to the 'Likes' page within WeWantApps! you will see the apps that you have liked as well as the apps that your friends recommend, and you can also invite your friends to join you in using WeWantApps! A feature I really liked here was the 'suggestions' tab which enables you to view the apps that users who are not your friends recommend. You can 'follow' them to keep track of their suggestions which I found similar to following other users on Pinterest.
- The Bookmarks feature and page allows you to keep track of wish lists or apps you particularly like.
- When you discover a new app, in addition to bookmarking and/or liking it, you can also share it directly from the app by either posting to Facebook or Twitter or sending details to a friend via email or text.
- There is a daily app recommendation from the development team and on the Account page you can set profile preferences for features such as whether you want your likes to be public or not.
I like the breadth of the app and I also like that it's easy to share recommendations with friends or see the apps that other users like. However, my main concern with the app is that it currently lacks the ability to drill down in order to apply more criteria to searches. In terms of improvements to the app, my suggestions would be as follows:
- The developer needs to add more detailed search options. For example, if I search for suggestions for educational preschool apps in English, I get 743 results. I'd like to be able to narrow a large list like this down by subject, but also apply other filters - only show apps that other users have liked for instance, or rank apps by number of likes received,
- I'd like to see a keyword search option. Sometimes parents are looking for an app that addresses a very specific need - apps that help teach left from right, for example.
- Apps for older children are thinner on the ground but WeWantApps! needs to populate its app list with more. When I searched for paid apps in English suitable for children 14 and older, I only received 10 suggestions.
- The designation of the proper age groups for some apps left a lot to be desired. There is a Lily the panda bear app listed for ages 10-11, when it's highest range should be 4-5.
- Currently, lite apps are included in the free app category. I would prefer that there be a differentiation between full apps that are free and lite apps that are simply scaled down versions of a full app.
- I couldn't find any way of determining whether free apps include in-app purchases or not. This is information every parent wants to know before downloading an app. Also, many parents care a great deal about whether an app has ads, social media and other external links.
- I love the idea of seeing apps that other users recommend. On the assumption that WeWantApps! user numbers will increase substantially, a user 'matching' service would be wonderful if it could be implemented. So, if one parent shares a number of likes in common with another parent, the app could recommend they follow each other.
- The ability for users to add apps that aren't yet in WeWantApps! to their bookmarked lists would be a terrific feature. It would make sharing recommendations between parents (and between teachers/therapists and parents) so much easier. These lists could also be mined by the developer to determine which popular apps aren't yet included in their database.
- The ability to name bookmarks so that users can categorize apps would be a very useful feature to add.
- Finally, many of the Daily App recommendations weren't very good apps. Most of the free apps recommended were just lite versions with little content and requiring an in-app purchase.
If you would like to download WeWantApps! (FREE: iPad and iPhone) please support Smart Apps for Kids by using this link:
This review was written by Deanne Shoyer whose app addiction has resulted in her having and wanting far too many apps already. smartappsforkids.com was paid a priority-review fee to complete this review in an expedited manner.