KidsMag Issue 01 is a very nice iPad application for preschool-aged kids, structured much like a magazine would be for their age group. This app revolves around Teo and Bianca, a brother and sister team who teach a lot about some of children’s favorite things, such as a farm or fire station, leading children through more than 50 activities just right for this age range. An index is included, making it easier for parents to select specific games they especially enjoy.
I really like the content of this app. With an impressive amount to look at and interact with, this app really does remind me of a kids' magazine such as “Highlights” and I found the segment on fire stations to be very informative and well written, as one taps on interactive hotspots and listens to narration about the firehouse. It is nice that these hotspots are highlighted with a hand symbol, showing the player where to tap, making this app extra intuitive for kids who may or may not be seasoned app users. There is also a nice section about Bianca and her trip to the store, again well written as one taps on storyboard-type squares which emphasize the sequencing of her busy day. The text can also be followed at the bottom of the screen, nice for early readers to follow along with. Each of these sections have many related activities to interact with, and I found them each to be thoughtfully executed.
There are many puzzles to complete, characters to dress up, differences to spot and objects to find in this highly entertaining kids' app. One thing the application does nicely is that these games each have multiple scenes per activity, something not found in traditional magazines, giving the players the chance to shake the iPad to go on to the next scene or wait until they are finished with what they are working on to continue. I like that little or no reading is necessary to enjoy these activities, and a question mark icon can be tapped in case one needs help with the interactions. It would be nice if a button could be tapped to give true clues to some of these activities for when a young player gets stuck, especially while finding the differences between two similar pictures or to spot the hidden pictures section of this app.
I do not like, however, that there are two full page app advertisements included among the pages of this magazine application. I am familiar with both of the apps advertised, also from the same developers of KidsMag. I have no doubt that kids would enjoy these advertised apps, but I have an issue with ads in apps in general, especially here where one can easily mistake the ad as another puzzle to solve and tap on the iTunes link by accident. As an adult, I was confused the first few times I hit these pages, not realizing that I was looking at an ad rather than an activity and I am sure this would confuse a child even more as to what is going on, not the way I want my child to feel, even though most of the time my son uses my iPad without an internet connection and without risk of buying apps unassisted.
In recent weeks iTunes has made it more difficult for accidental in-app purchases to take place, but with stand-alone apps, these accidents can still happen and these kinds of ads make me as a parent unhappy. I really don’t want my son being influenced by ads of any kind, such as TV commercials that make him want toys he does not need or for kids' apps that we are not looking to spend money on.
I know that when I am impressed with an application, the first thing I do is check to see if the developer in question has any more apps I would be interested in and I certainly do not need to come across these full page apps to get my attention. In truth, these ads leave a bad taste in my mouth, which is unfortunate as this app is all around is wonderful, except these distracting and unwanted advertisements.
I would be bothered a whole lot less if the developer simply had a separate section to see other apps of theirs linked from the info page. I hope in the future these ads can be removed from the body of this application. This is the first issue of this magazine app that is going to be published, and I despite these adds, I really look forward to seeing what the coming issues of KidsMag have to offer. I hope the ads can be at least moved to a more appropriate place as I do not think I am not alone in my dislike of advertisements, especially in paid applications.