There’s no Kids category on Apple’s App Store for iPhone and iPad. Instead, children’s apps are spread between Education, Books, Games, and Entertainment. But that’s all set to change this Autumn.
As part of its upcoming iOS 7 software, which Apple announced earlier this summer, there’s going to be a new Kids category on the App Store. And in the last week, the company has been telling app developers how it’ll work.
We thought you’d be interested too as parents. The new category will be split into three sections by age: 5 and under, 6-8, and 9-11. Developers will still be able to place their apps in the other categories (Books, Education, etc), so Kids will be a new section on top of that.
There are also some new rules in Apple’s App Store Review Guidelines for developers who want their apps to be approved for the Kids category – and, in fact, they cover any app aimed at children under 13 years old.
“Apps primarily intended for use by kids under 13 must get parental permission or use a parental gate before allowing the user to link out of the app or engage in commerce,” explains another clause in the guidelines.
What’s a “parental gate”? That’s some kind of extra step or barrier before a child can exit the app to a webpage or spend money using in-app purchases. You may have noticed it in some apps already: the PIN that has to be entered before opening the links in the new CBeebies app, or the ‘swipe down with three fingers’ style gestures used to access in-app stores or parents’ sections in other apps.
Apple is also hiring staff to run the new Kids category, choosing which apps to promote each week, and also putting together themed collections.
To summarise, then: the new Kids category will be a single place to visit on the App Store showcasing great apps for children up to the age of 11, and there’ll be rules for apps submitted for it that should ensure they play by the books when it comes to in-app purchases and/or advertising.
That’s good news for parents, and hopefully for developers too: some of our favorite apps and developers have sometimes struggled to get found on the App Store. If the new Kids category changes that, we’re all for it.