Why Moms Love Startups

I’m a stay at home mom from the San Francisco Bay Area. I have two girls, ages 10 and 12, who attend a local public school. For the past dozen years, I’ve opted out of the formal workforce to ensure my top priority is raising the kids. While at home, blogging enables me to stay involved and connected to various family-friendly projects and networks. But this summer I did something different and took my home-based experience a step further. I actually went to work.

In June, a fellow Moms With Apps developer approached me about helping with summer projects at a growing edtech startup. Enuma, derived from the word enumerate, is a company of 20 people with offices in Berkeley, Seoul and Beijing. Enuma makes the award winning app Todo Math, which is a comprehensive math curriculum for early learners. Todo Math is updated with new features every season, so syncing app updates with fresh marketing is a constant priority. While my contact tuned into her family’s summer enrichment, I tuned into part-time app marketing work, and had a total blast.

Reflecting on this experience, I’d like to share three main observations on why working at startups can be so fulfilling for moms:

You are surrounded by technically talented and motivated people.

With programmers and graphic designers within reach, anything is possible in the modern digital world. What makes the scenario richer is how everyone is equally motivated to to succeed. Startups need to be lean and efficient. Their advantage against established brands is a faster time to market due to less bureaucracy. With a focused group of people creating great products, positive energy can be contagious. Sooinn Lee, Enuma’s founder and CEO, is an encouraging role model who is able to process complex feedback while determining her own unique course. Even at my age, I’m realizing how role models are just as important now as when I was young.

The high caliber of products launched by the Enuma team is equally impressive. Witnessing their edtech innovations first hand, from interactive apps to wearable technology, is an exciting privilege to watch in real time.

You get to refresh professional skills.

Startups use the latest tools for collaboration. At Enuma, there is a global team working in opposite time zones. Effective communication when time zones intersect is critical. Slack is a team communication app that virtually eliminates the need for inter-company email. When I downloaded Slack to my iPhone, I felt instantaneously more hip! I could Slack a document or message without overloading anyone’s email inbox. For moms, Slack’s anytime/anywhere connectivity redefines the traditional work day, enabling flexible communication around work and family. Meanwhile, to perform as a professional, I had to do my best in whatever task I was assigned. I thought more deeply and paid more attention to my writing than I had in recent history. Working helped me enjoy writing again.

You experience more of the world.

Enuma embraces diversity. Their team is multicultural, multilingual, and multi-age. Sometimes, during threads of Korean office conversation, I could feel at peace and focus on my work because I knew the topic didn’t need my immediate input. When the topic required my input or was for a general team meeting, the language switched. Every day was like a mini global adventure, you never quite knew what phrases, foods or people might await! I also saw more of the Bay Area. While driving over the San Francisco Bay Bridge to the office, I noticed the latest ad campaigns, joined in the rush of commuters, and heard an uninterrupted flow of news or music. For moms, anything uninterrupted is awesome.

So what did the kids do while I was away? At twelve years old, my oldest was comfortable being in charge at home for a few hours. Only having to visit the office one or two days a week left a nice balance between independence and the usual consistency. Knowing kids are welcome in the office also added peace of mind. But kids, summers, and independence is a topic I’ll cover in another post.

Thank you, Enuma, for being the startup that started me up again. This experience helped unite the range of perspectives between at-home moms and working moms, ultimately providing me with deeper understanding and respect for all choices.

@LorraineAkemann

App Friday: NameThatNumber and DoReMemory

Welcome to App Friday, our weekly link exchange of family-friendly apps. This week we are featuring two apps developed by Stacey Jett, a piano teacher with innovative ideas for presenting educational concepts on the iPhone. She entered the app market with DoReMemory, an app to assist with reading music. She followed up with the math game NameThatNumber for practicing math facts. With two helpful apps at our fingertips, let’s get started!

What are your apps about? DoReMemory (for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch) is geared toward beginning music students.  The app provides the note names of 12 notes for the treble or bass clef, and you tap the location of that note on the staff  (don’t worry, there are tips if you get stuck).   When you get 10 or more correct (out of the 12), there is an option to play a game where you move a cute “DooDah” note around the staff to hear the pitch for that note.  By moving that DooDah around, you can even make up your own little song.  The stand-alone music game DooDah is always free in the App Store.

NameThatNumber is also for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.  You are given five random numbers (cards) from 1 to 9.  Using addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division, you want to use as many of the first four numbers as possible to get to the fifth number.  If you get it right, you get a point for each “card” you use, including the goal number.  If you miss getting NameThatNumber free today, you can always try out NameThatNumber Lite for free.

Why are they special? As a piano teacher, I noticed that having a variety of ways to study notes is so useful.  Some kids make that connection better when they see the note on the staff and provide the note name.  Others might make that connection by drawing the given note on the staff.  (And all kids like something a little different and fun with their lessons!)  That is what gave me the idea of DoReMemory.

For NameThatNumber, my children often bring home games from school to supplement math education.  One of them, a card game, gave me the idea for NameThatNumber.  This game does a pretty good job of sharpening up the math skills for adults as well as kids.  The numbers are random, so there are no hints.  But NameThatNumber keeps your highest 10 scores, so you can really see how you are improving.  It’s challenging, and isn’t that what we want for our kids?

What’s in it for me?For App Friday September 24th, both DoReMemory and NameThatNumber will be FREE to download on the iTunes App Store. But act quickly, the apps will revert back to regular pricing by about 8pm US Pacific Time on Friday Sept. 24th.

Related Apps School is in full swing, and there are some great apps to supplement homework sessions. Try the series from Kids Math Fun and iHome Educator for practice with math facts and word problems. There are also fabulous counting apps by MathGirlGames and Arithmaroo. And don’t miss Park Math from Duck Duck Moose for toddler math fun. In fact, just go here for more ideas about Apps for Learning!

App Friday Link Exchange Our goal at Moms With Apps is to spread the word about family-friendly apps. Do YOU have a favorite app to share? Please participate in our link exchange and post it down below. Include the app name in the Link Title, your email, and a URL to the app. Thanks for your participation!

Apps in the Elementary Classroom

Our feature this week is from Stacey Jett, creator of DoReMemory and NameThatNumber, two educational apps for kids. Stacey’s interest about iPod touches in the classroom inspired her to create apps for students. In this article she shares insights from elementary school teachers about how mobile touch technology is integrated into the classroom environment.

Last Christmas I was given an iPod touch by my family.  I had seen my mother-in-law’s device and heard her excitement over what it could do.  Her iPod was filled with educational apps.  My mother-in-law is not only a wonderful grandmother but also a third grade teacher, and her school district made iPod touches available for the students.  She was so excited about how this could help children in the classroom.  I added the iPod touch to my wish list and started creating apps earlier this year.

So what kinds of apps work in the classroom?  How can they be incorporated into the school day?  And what advice do teachers have for parents with such devices at home?  I asked a couple teachers about their experiences and suggestions.

Reading

Younger elementary students enjoy audiobooks — especially along with the physical book for looking at pictures.  There are plenty of children’s book apps that include interactive pictures with different options for reading and listening.  Middle elementary students benefit from educational word games.  With the abundance of reading fluency testing in public schools today, kids spend a lot of time on language skills.  There are iPods used during small group tutoring sessions with two kids per device and apps designated by the teacher. The iPod touches can be a fun addition for kids who need more encouragement with reading.

Math and Science

Teachers with students who struggle with basic math facts can find many apps to give that extra practice.  My sister-in-law has used her iPod touch in the classroom along with the Elmo Teacher’s Tool and projector so that the whole class can watch an app in action.  She also has had two kids at a time use a device as flashcards.  Using an iPod touch along with an Elmo can demonstrate new math concepts such as telling time and probability.  As a parent, I know my fifth grader likes math challenges.  My app, NameThatNumber, which is similar to a math card game he learned at school, provides fun practice with math facts.

Music

As a priviate piano lesson teacher, I’ve observed that flashcards are great for learning notes.  Repetition is important, but can also get boring. I use educational music apps such as my own DoReMemory.  The students enjoy the instant feedback.  A public school music teacher who works with my mother-in-law also uses DoReMemory and other music apps in her classroom.  She recommends music apps on her website for students to practice at home.

Kids’ Response

Not all children have access to technology at home.  The more tools that are available to teachers, the better for kids.  New technologies often engage students’ interest longer than paper and pencil activities. This new enthusiasm often encourages students to try activities that they once believed too hard or boring. There are wonderful educational apps available in many areas: art, music, math, reading, science, social studies (and more), which can help all types of students.

Finding Apps

Some school districts provide teacher training on iPod touches where they practice with apps recommended by the district.  School districts may also have technology suggestions on their websites that can be helpful to parents trying to find useful apps at home.  Searching the iTunes App Store can turn up great educational apps.  And don’t forget checking out the links at the top of  Moms With Apps for more suggestions on family-friendly apps.

App Friday: iTouchiLearn Words

Welcome to App Friday, our weekly link exchange of family-friendly apps. This week we explore early childhood education with iTouchiLearn Words by Jane Scarano of Staytoooned and iPhoneKidsApps. If you have toddlers and preschoolers who are working on their words, this app provides engaging activities for budding language skills. Jane recently released an iPad version with additional interactive features – details below!

 What is your app about? iTouchiLearn Words for Preschool Kids features animations and word activities wrapped in an easy-to-navigate interface. Toddlers and preschoolers are treated to entertaining animations that teach them about the context of words along with engaging word games. It centers around three activities: Find the Picture that matches the word; Match the Word; and Animations that tell a story about related words in action. iTouchiLearn Words for Preschool Kids comes in two flavors: iPhone and iPad. The iPad version takes full advantage of the iPad’s high definition and size capabilities. This version adds a matching game and a pie chart spinner that lands on a random activity when a child taps the spinner, plus additional content.

Why is it special? What makes this app special are the cute and engaging animations that teach toddlers and preschoolers about the context of words and actions while making them laugh. The animations deliver a multi-sensory experience. A child can hear a word spoken, see the word spelled out and watch an animation of the word in action. This brings words to life and improves word retention. Each word activity provides virtual rewards for correct answers to reinforce and retain what they have learned.

What’s in it for me? See for yourself how mobile touch technology provides an enriching learning experience for your toddler and preschool child. Download iTouchiLearn Words (iPhone) for FREE or iTouchiLearn Words (iPad) for HALF PRICE this App Friday, August 6th!  NOTE: The apps usually revert back to original price on the iTunes Store by 8pm U.S. Pacific Time on Friday August 6th.

Related Apps by Staytoooned:  iTouchiLearn Spanish Words  (iPhone) teaches your preschooler about words in Spanish. Through animation and fun word activities, your child will learn and retain Spanish words at a very young age.  Staytoooned also publishes apps for kids, and if you have an idea for an app, we would be happy to hear from you and help you publish yours. In addition, our iPhoneKidsApps Blog helps families and friends explore the educational value of mobile touch technology.

More Apps by the developers of Moms With Apps: Click to the page tabs at the top of our blog to scroll through lists of apps for kids and families. We highlight apps for learning, fun & creativity, reading, special needs, travel, and last but not least, parents. 🙂

App Friday Link Exchange Our goal at Moms With Apps is to spread the word about family-friendly apps. Do YOU have a favorite app to share? Please participate in our link exchange and post it down below. Include the app name in the Link Title, your email, and a URL to the app. Thanks for your participation!

Characteristics of Great Apps for Kids With Autism

We are privileged to have a guest post this week from Shannon Des Roches Rosa: mother, writer, and advocate for autism and special needs. A few months ago, Shannon’s 9 year old son Leo got to know the iPad, and she documented the impact it made for Leo and the family. This post expands upon apps that work for autism, in hopes of sharing with developers specific features that make a difference.  You can find Shannon on her personal blog, contributing at BlogHer, encouraging others via the Can I Sit With You Project, or providing needed resources to families with autism via the Thinking Person’s Guide to Austism. Shannon doesn’t stop. And to the app developers, she hopes you don’t either.

I am always on the prowl for good apps for my son Leo, who is nine years old, has autism — and has found his iPad to be an absolutely transformative tool for apps both special-needs-specific and not. I don’t just evaluate apps with the eyes of an autism parent — I also look at them from the perspective of a former software producer for Electronic Arts and The Learning Company who has no patience with software that isn’t well-planned or doesn’t at least have marked potential. When I choose an app, here are the factors I weigh:

1) Factoring in Leo’s “kid” status before his “autism” or “special needs” label. Leo likes to have fun! And so do his two neurotypical sisters, both of whom hop on his iPad the moment he puts it down. Examples of fun apps that are great for Leo but have general kid appeal: Faces iMake (goofy, beautifully designed collage maker), iEarnedThat (animated, puzzle-based reward charts).

2) Error-free learning. Leo has the most success with activities that do not penalize users for wrong answers, and which instead only let users put items in the right spaces, or which contain prompts that encourage users to succeed. Good examples: iWriteWords (handwriting, numbers, spelling) and FirstWordsDeluxe (spelling).

3) Simplicity. Fewer steps equals a higher rate of engagement and usefulness for kids like Leo. A complicated, many-step introduction may confuse him and prevent him from accessing the apps’ function or content. If you insist on an involved introduction to your app, make sure it can be bypassed with one click. Apps with simple but powerful interfaces: Tappy Tunes (tap your way through popular songs), ShapeBuilder (simple puzzles).

4) Pure, Silly, One-Note Fun. Again, Leo likes to play. Apps that focus on a single function or action make it easier for him to understand games, and have a good time playing them. Two of his favorites: Fruit Ninja (slice flying fruit!),  Scoops (catch the falling ice cream scoops on your cone!).

5) Visually distinctive interface. Plain text interfaces don’t work well for Leo, because he’s not yet reading — but he can remember distinctive visual patterns with uncanny accuracy. An app with a multi-step yet graphically varied and so Leo-accessible interface: Whizzit 123 (1 to 1 correspondence, e.g., how many objects “5” is).

6) Tempo Change Option. For any paced-based, interactive musical, or rhythm-based apps, tempo variation is mandatory. Many kids with autism or other special needs have a hard time processing audio input; they often can’t follow along at the same speed as their typical peers. Leo will either give up or not access an app’s full functionality if he can’t set the tempo to a pace that suits him. An app he adores that could benefit from a tempo change option: Kiboomu: Twinkle Twinkle Preschool Storybook Piano. (learn to play songs by following the colored keys on a keyboard).

7) Flexible Content Management. If an app utilizes user-generated or otherwise modifiable content, then its content management systems need to be extremely flexible. The harder it is for me to quickly retrieve and assemble the content I need, the less likely I am to use that app with Leo. Stories2Learn (social stories), iCommunicate (create icons with photos and audio for learning and practicing words), and First Then Visual Schedule (visual schedules) are examples of fine apps that Leo and I use daily but which could be even better if their content storage and management systems were more flexible — as I hope they will be in future versions. I would kill for:

  • Nested content management folders instead of one big list
  • Ability to save icons with integrated audio and visual components, instead of saving separate audio and visual components
  • Click-and-drag option for rearranging or inserting new icons in lists

I love seeing Leo have such a great time playing with his iPad. It is always a treat to find a new app that appeals to him. And I understand that such apps are still evolving. Currently, apps for kids with autism tend to have a First Generation feel to them, similar to mid-1990s-era websites — some are beautifully put together and useful, some are a bit clunky yet useful. But I’m mostly seeing a lot of enthusiasm combined with frontier thinking. I see a lot more innovation than slickness. And I see apps benefiting my son’s leisure and learning in ways I’d never imagined, and for which I am grateful. I hope the guidelines above will help developers create even more Leo-friendly apps.

Thinking About Android: Perspectives from a Parent / iPhone Developer

Our feature this week is from Scott Weiner, Dad developer over at Weiner Family Studios and creator of the hit travel app Family Matters. He and his family worked as a team to create a game-changing app that made ranks on the iTunes App Store. I’m not surprised. His dedication to family values, innovative technology, charitable contributions and team collaboration has topped all of our charts. Enjoy reading his insights on the great Apple vs. Android debate. If you are considering multi-platform support for your mobile apps, Scott’s article is a good place to start.

I started developing iPhone applications about a year ago because of an idea my wife had. She knew I liked to program as a hobby, and that my kids loved the iPod touch. She thought we should combine the two and involve the family in a project. The result was our first commercial iPhone app called Family Matters, which spent a few weeks on top of the iTunes travel chart and was a great overall experience.

In January 2010 it was time to get a new phone. I was considering the iPhone, but my company plan is on Verizon.  I decided to get an Android phone and considered the possibility of porting my app to that platform.

My wife and I decided we would each get an Android phone and evaluate them as both phones and parenting tools.  We spent a week with each of the available Android phones (Motorola Droid, Nexus ONE, HTC Eris, etc.) and ended up with the HTC Eris.  We created evaluation criteria for what we thought was important as both developers and parents (the target audience for our apps).

As developers we were concerned with:

  1. Size of market
  2. Multi-device and OS support issues
  3. Supportive marketplace
  4. Quality and pricing of the applications in the marketplace
  5. Piracy

As parents we were concerned with:

  1. Ease of use of the phone
  2. Variety and cost of family-oriented applications
  3. Ability to assess and find applications good for our family
  4. Ease of upgrading the applications
  5. Parental controls

Our findings on Android from a developer perspective

Size of Market

Every developer wants to make sure they have a large enough market for profitability. Even if you have a free app, you want to be sure that enough people will appreciate your offering. Recent data indicates Android ships 60,000 apps per day and Apple ships 97,000 apps per day. This is really good news (see “Comparing Android Phone Shipments With iPhone, BlackBerry”). Note: I don’t know if this includes iPods and iPads. I suspect it doesn’t but Android’s numbers are still good.

Multi-device and OS Support Issues

One concern we had was that the Android might behave differently on various phones, meaning developers need to support a variety of phone implementations and hardware. From our perspective this is a weakness of the platform. Variety of phones and OS implementations might be good for consumers, but it is troubling and costly for small developers.

Supportive Marketplace

By “supportive marketplace” I mean a shopping experience that allows consumers to find our application, and a platform that encourages people to purchase the applications.  Even though the Android Marketplace may be a tenth of the size of the iPhone App Store, it is still large and growing.  We want to know that people can locate our application and have the information they need to make a purchasing decision quickly and easily.

When we first tried the Android Marketplace it was an awful experience. Searching would often not locate apps even when we typed the exact name. Furthermore, we could search on the same term and actually get different results – bizarre. The categories were almost meaningless and there was no way to filter by paid or free. Since the update to 2.1 on our Eris, the market has improved. The categories are more helpful and the buying process is pretty easy on the phone.

However, the lack of an iTunes Store equivalent has proven to be a big deal for us. In January we were on Apple’s “What’s Hot” list, and through informal surveys we found that large numbers of the parents found us not on their phone but from the larger pictures on their computer via the iTunes App Store “What’s Hot” promotion. iTunes is such a centerpiece of media management for users of any of Apple’s products that it becomes an effective marketing tool as well. Unfortunately, there is no equivalent experience on Android so we have to hope the phone experience is sufficient to encourage people to try new applications.

One other concern is it doesn’t feel like anyone is at the wheel. iTunes App Store has What’s Hot, Staff Picks, New & Noteworthy, and Apps for Kids sections. So as a developer of family apps I feel like there is a chance that if I produce a quality product Apple’s marketing machine may support me. Not only do I have a shot at a front-and-center promotion on the App Store but my app could end up in a television commercial (yeah that’ll happen).

That brings me to a personal gripe – the commercials. Apple advertises their phone and ultimately their OS as a way of getting things done.  Many of their commercials have messages that resonate with my target audience of parents (See Apple’s Family Man Commercial). The only Android commercials I have seen are techie appeals for openness by Google (see Android Commercial) and ones from Motorola/Verizon showing off a giant robot arm taking over the world with a Droid (I couldn’t locate the “Droid Does” commercial online but you know the one).  I don’t have a clue who they are advertising to but I know it isn’t helping me sell an application that promotes family communication or stimulating my audience.

Quality and Pricing

Why should I care about the quality of other applications and their pricing? As a parent I know that if the majority of the apps are garbage then I am going to stop looking for good value and ultimately not bother buying or even downloading free ones.  Overall the quality of the Android marketplace is OK, but the lack of consistency in this “open” platform leaves me uncertain.

I also care about price because if great apps are given away at bargain basement prices, then the market has set a low value on them.  In the Android marketplace there are a lot of free apps so the expectation for FREE is high. I’m hopeful this is just a short-lived issue for developers. There are some really great apps already on this platform so I think this will just get better.

Piracy

Piracy is a fact of life on every platform. What I want is some level of control so honest people stay honest. I expect some level of piracy and don’t consider this a platform issue. On the iPhone, however, you have to jailbreak to pirate and you need a tool and some level of technical expertise. This restricts the number of pirates to a small fraction of the population. There is no such restriction on the Android platform. I was amazed how easy it is to pirate on the platform and how rampant it is already. You don’t need special versions; you don’t need special software; you don’t need special skills. I can’t see any reason why every developer shouldn’t expect a much larger percentage of their application copied illegally. This is somewhat demoralizing for a small developer.

Our findings from a parent’s perspective

As a parent and owner of two Android phones I’m also interested in how the platform will work for my family. I appreciate the quality, variety, and easy installation of iPhone apps.  I’m hoping to see similar value from Android so it becomes a viable tool for us to entertain, educate and communicate when we are mobile as a family.

Ease of use

The ease of use issue for us matters because if the phone is complicated it won’t get used for anything but making calls.  As developers, we need you to love using the phone and its various capabilities. I’ll start by saying this:  Android is no iPhone. We actually had the same experience on all Android phones, not just Eris. However, if you feel it may be less controversial to focus solely on our phone that is OK with me. There may be a dozen ways you can say that Android is technically better than iPhone, but when it comes to simplicity and comfort and an “it just works” feeling, Android isn’t even close in our experience.  The number of hours we had to spend to customize and configure and research to get this to feel comfortable was astounding. What this means to us is that parents may get this phone and potentially lose interest in downloading apps. For us it just isn’t as addictive as the iPhone experience.

Another weakness we found is ironically one of the most touted strengths of Android: multitasking.  One of the big claims to fame for Android has been the idea you can run multiple apps at once. For us what this means in a practical sense is if you are trying to do one thing there may be something in the background running which can slow down the phone, or pop up unexpectedly, or fail to quit properly. Many times I went to hang up a call and it took several seconds for the call to quit because of something running in the background. For the non-technical user it makes the experience unpredictable and less enjoyable.

Android is alright for ease of use, but not great. We know the best thing we can do is make sure our app is considerate of the multitasking environment. We expect iPhone 4.0 multitasking support may introduce some of the same issues.  The possible difference, I suspect, is that Apple will require a certain amount of compliance with what they consider good practices, and Android will most likely stay the “Wild West” for some time.

Variety and Cost

As a parent I want a variety of applications to choose from.  Competition is great for me and encourages me to see “what’s new”.  Although Android is increasing its volume of apps, trying to find quality apps for my family is still difficult.  Many apps don’t have pictures on the marketplace so you don’t even know what it looks like before you buy it. The family categories don’t seem well organized, so I found it a little difficult to find the apps. This is great news for MomsWithApps and other websites that help people discover those gems that the marketplace doesn’t highlight.

Cost of apps is on the low side which is great for parents but I did feel like there is still a lot of experimentation going on.  I would find two apps for first grade math and one was .99 and one was 2.99 and I couldn’t see any difference in the quality.  I think the market will sort these price issues out over time as it has on the App Store.

Ability to Assess Apps

One of the most difficult things for a parent to do is figure out which apps are really good for their family before purchasing them. Personally I do the following:

  1. Read reviews
  2. Look at screenshots
  3. See what other apps parents purchased
  4. Check out review sites if it is an expensive app

All of these are possible with the Android market, but many of the apps don’t have screenshots, which can deter a purchase.

Ease of upgrade

One thing we have learned from the iPhone is that upgrading is key.  Apps that upgrade often are considered “better value” assuming the upgrades include features and not just bug fixes. If the upgrade process isn’t smooth, a user will view upgrades as a burden, which could cause support headaches for developers too.

The general flow of upgrading an Android app is similar to the iPhone: a user views the app in the marketplace, sees which ones have upgrades available, and clicks the upgrade button. But from my experience the updates didn’t always happen, and there was no indicator of a problem.

If I had multiple apps to update it was much worse. First, there is no “update all”, so updating each individual app was necessary. One time I had 15 apps that had updates. That was not fun. It almost turned me off to the platform altogether – it was that frustrating.

As an aside, the whole install process needs some work. Once you install an app it does not appear in your workspace, so you have to locate it in the list and then manually place it.  This adds a lot of steps and reduces overall usability. Deleting an app also lacks refinement. To delete an app you have to locate it in the settings and then delete it. This might add about 4-6 additional steps based on our typical usage patterns. I am much less likely to try an app if it is going to be a hassle to get rid of if I don’t like it. This means as a developer I believe I will get fewer casual users. Small things like this add up. They really need to improve the install/upgrade/delete process so updates are seen as a good thing and not something to dread.

Parental controls

Parental control is currently a very weak area on Android. On the iPhone I can control what content is downloadable, what major apps are allowed to run, even what type of music can be loaded. In addition, Apple restricts a ton of inappropriate content so I don’t have to worry as much. As far as I can tell there is nothing like this built into Android. I feel like I have to scrutinize every single app and can never let my kids make an impulse download or purchase.  This will drastically restrict my family buying habits.

Conclusion

Writing an article like this is bound to rile some people who are advocates or invested in one platform or another. My goal was to evaluate if this platform was right for me and then share my observations in the hopes they may prove useful to others. I would love to hear about the exeriences of others. I also realize that the Android platform keeps evolving and new phones are coming out all the time. Even while writing this article we saw some better phones appear like the HTC Incredible (and of course iPhone 4.0 is coming).

Overall the Android developer outlook is good. It’s a growing market and a powerful platform. I don’t think the market support for small developers is great right now and I am hoping they will improve this. It doesn’t mean it isn’t a good opportunity, but it seems there is less chance of getting noticed right now.

As a parent I’m less optimistic. I think for the time being I will stick to using my iPod for kids’ games and educational tools, while using my Eris for calls, business needs and occasional entertainment.  I’m put off some by the lack of parental controls but mainly I just find the app management to be too cumbersome and don’t want to waste time customizing the phone. Obviously this is a personal choice, but I know that most parents don’t have time to play with their phone. They just need it to work.

I’ll keep an eye on how the market progresses. Multi-platform competition is great news for developers. I suspect for people like me, developing on Android may only be a matter of time.