There’s no denying how much we love apps, but we especially love apps for kids that are not only fun, but also educational. Apps claim to make learning fun, develop important skills, and give kids a head start on learning, but are they actually helpful to your child’s learning? In short — yes! A recent study commissioned by developer Motion Math suggests that significant learning can occur with the right apps. They can improve test scores as well as change a child’s attitude toward a subject. According to researcher Dr. Kate Highfield, quality apps can enhance learning incredibly, specifically when dealing with practicing specific skills or encouraging the child to create their own ideas and communicate in new ways. Quality apps can be like digital blank piece of paper, leaving room for the child to make or do anything with them. When used correctly and in combination with traditional mediums like books, apps do have a place in your little ones growth and development and are much more than a simple distraction device. Check out a few quality apps we love listed below.

1. Fun with ColorsFun With Colors
Recommended for kids 2 to 5
$2.99, no in-app purchases
We love the adorable animations and interactions this app offers to its young users. It’s refreshing to see a new approach to experiencing the world of colors. What truly makes this app special is it’s teaching through storytelling that’s easy to follow. This app encourages creativity by allowing the user to create their own images, and this is what makes it such a quality app. Rather than limiting what a child can do on the app, it gives them the freedom to create their very own masterpieces. Download the app for iPhone and iPad here, or for Android here.

2. Freefall SpellingFreefall Spelling
Recommended for kids 4 and up
$1.99, no in-app purchases
We enjoy the many different options the user can choose from when practicing their spelling, and it’s definitely encouraging to see that Freefall Spelling won a Parents’ Choice Award. What makes this app amazing is the option to enter your child’s own spelling list from school. We love when our little ones stay motivated, so what better way than by the apps use of the reward system. For spelling a correct word, a fish is rewarded for their virtual tank. Download the app for iPhone and iPad here.

3. Marble Math JuniorMarble Math Junior
Recommended for kids 6 to 8
$2.99, no in-app purchases
We applaud this app for challenging its little users to solve math problems and recognize numbers in a fun way! Their little hands will be able to guide their marble through fun mazes that will make learning enjoyable. Being based on the Common Core Curriculum makes this app worth checking out. Marble Math Junior has been widely recognized, winning the 2013 Parents’ Choice Award and Common Sense Media 2013 ON for Learning Award. Download the app for iPhone and iPad here.

4. BrainPOP Jr. Movie of the WeekBrainPOP Jr. Movie of the Week
Recommended for kids 6 to 8
Free, no in-app purchases
We love that this great app gives kids lots to think about —some of its video content may be challenging, but it’s definitely interesting and explained in a manner your youngsters will understand. They’ll learn something new each week with a different animated video. You can even test what they’ve seen though related quizzes and educational activities. The gentle, humorous, and relatable characters serve as guides through each topic, empowering your child to form their own ideas. Plus, the app has no in-app purchases, which protects your own wallet while your kids use the app. Download the app for iPhone and iPad here, or for Android here.

5. Britannica Kids: U.S. PresidentsBritannica Kids: US Presidents
Recommended for kids 6 and up
$1.99, no in-app purchases
We appreciate how this app makes it easy for kids to learn about America’s history, with concise information and fun facts provided for each president. It makes learning about each president much more interesting and entertaining. It truly brings the Oval Office into your living room and makes it enjoyable for not just your child, but also the whole family to learn something new about their favorite president, or quiz each other. Download the app for iPhone and iPad here.

Jessica Egan is a music, social media, and Disneyland enthusiast who currently attends UC Davis and looks forward to a career in either public relations and marketing.

According to AppFigures, a company specializing in metrics and tracking the ranking of iPhone applications, the iTunes App Store is officially frozen – that is, there has been no change in rankings for any applications in the last 24 hours.

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The problem may be older then that however. Over the last week, many of our clients and various posts on message boards have pointed to strange app ranking issues including sudden unexplained jumps or drops in ratings, applications appearing out of nowhere, and other anomalies. Release dates seem to be one of the more effected aspects, with the release date option appearing and disappearing from the developer console.

Personally…. with it happening just after Halloween, we believe that iTunes has been possessed by the ghosts off rejected applications and the issues will continue until a full exorcism of Apple has occurred. That aside, we expect Apples engineers are frantically plugging away on the back end, trying to resolve the problem.

Please comment on any additional issues you notice, and we will continue to monitor and report if we hear of a change.

***RUMOR MILL UPDATE***

According to the founder of Cramzy, who claims to have inside information, one of the problems is because a major change is being made to the system. The gist of the change is this – updating your app will no longer place you at the top of the “Recently Released Apps” queue. If this is true, we believe this is an extremely poor decision by Apple. The marketing uplift given to an app by performing an update can be significant, and this feature as it currently is keeps developers involved in their apps, refreshing them with new content and bug fixes. Removing this will lead to more apps going stale, cluttering up the app store and making it harder for anyone to sell anything.

**RUMOR CONFIRMATION**

One of our clients, Memorize Words, Spanish Edition , had their app update approved today. Its app description only lists it as “Last Updated Nov 6th”, however it does not appear on the recently released apps section in its category. All apps in the recently released are listed as version 1.0’s. No official word from Apple, but all evidance points to this as a new major change in the app store.

We've had a lot of people lately coming to us and asking how to get their iPhone app reviewed by the various iPhone blog sites around the net. While there is no guaranteed method, ( 148apps told us they get over 400 requests to review per week – there is simply no way they can get to all of them) we sat down with SlapApp.com's Co-Founder  Ryan Johnson this weekend and he gave us a few pointers. 


1. Read and understand the blogs preferred method of communication. Each blog has a different process, some bloggers have an email address to send submissions to, while others use a web form on their site. Just because you were able to track down the email address of every writer that contributes to their site, doesn't mean they would all welcome an out-of-the-blue email that goes outside their normal submission process and clogs up their professional email boxes. Ryan Johnson, SlapApp Co-Founder

2. Don't force them to do time wasting research. Simply submitting and saying "hey, can you review app X" is a sure fire way to not get reviewed. At the very least you need to provide:

  • App Name
  • Company Name
  • App Category
  • A brief overview of your app including highlights (what makes it special?)
  • Direct link to app

3. Spice it up with some media. You will hardly ever see an app reviewed without an image, video, etc. to catch the readers eye. Pulling those images and making those videos for those that do it themselves is a time consuming process. Make it easy for them! Include your screen shots, videos, promo art, icons, etc with your submission. Do NOT however send them as attached files unless specifically requested. Host your images on photobucket or one of the various other image hosting sites (Photoshop has an interesting new one) and send the link to the image. This goes for videos as well.  

4. This one may be obvious – but if its a paid app, provide a promotional code. On the same note – if you are a blogger yourself and are reading this – when a developer provides you with a promotional code, if you do not think you are going to review the app, be so kind as to send the code back to the developer unused.

5. Stick to the theme of the site. Some sites like Touch Arcade have very specific focuses (Touch Arcade is specifically for games). It is a waste of your time as well as the bloggers time to et submissions that do not fit with the site in question.


6. Additional information that may help getting your app reviewed:

  • Current Rank / Highest Rank Achieved (Most bloggers generate revenue as a iTunes affiliate, they want to promote apps that sell)
  • Date of Release
  • Notable mentions in other media (and links to them – bloggers love to cross link, it helps their SEO)

7. Getting close to launching a brand new app that has never been seen before? Offer a blogger an exclusive "first look" at the application. Bloggers are like other news reporters in that they like to be the first to a story. Dangling the "exclusive" carrot can catch a writers eye like nothing else can.

SO YOU GOT REVIEWED: NOW WHAT?

Congratulations! You got your app reviewed! What to do now? A couple basic things:

1. Mention the review in your app description. It's good for you (assuming it was a positive review), and its good for the review site.

2. Share the review link as much as possible. If your apps direct a lot of traffic to a blogger, the blogger may remember this in the future and be more inclined to blog about your next release.

3. Thank the reviewer. Common courtesy goes a long way these days. A good review can take 30 minutes to an hour of the writers time, if not more. Time spent on your application. Show them you appreciate it.

SO YOU DIDN'T GET REVIEWED: NOW WHAT?

Not every app will get reviewed by every site. Often times the blog wont even contact you to let you know, they simply wont do anything with it. Don't get disheartened, but ask yourself why. Is your app a purple cow? That is – is your app remarkable in any way, shape or form, or is it one of a dozen apps just like it that are already littering up the app store. As I mentioned before – blog reviews are a type of news… so make apps that are newsworthy.

A Special Thanks:

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A special thanks to Ryan and the rest of the SlapApp.com team for providing this interview. For help getting your app reviewed by bloggers, mentioned in the press, or just talked about in general… drop us an email, we would be glad to help!

annapicI’ve been a slave to the medical industry for over 5 years now. I’ve worked for the top gastroenterologists, cardiologists, psychiatrists, and a variety of surgeons. I’ve even dated one. And what have I learned? They REQUIRE efficiency and what is more efficient than having all of your needs at your fingertips.

 The doctor’s bag, once a briefcase full of gadgets for on the go, has transformed into one device that fits into the palm of your hand and can be carried in your pocket. The iWorld has allowed for Medicine to go Mobile.

 So what are docs loading onto their iPhones? Let’s start with the essentials:

  1.  Epocrates. A free medical app that features many useful on-the-go references for physicians who are on-call, away from a computer, or simply in need of immediate information. This app features a search option that allows your doctor to look up labs, conditions and medications. It even provides images of diseases and allows for docs to quickly search for medication interactions. This is not to say that any Old Joe should download this app and self-medicate. No, you need to know you’re profession in order to make use of this app. It’s a reference for trained physicians, not a “How to Be a Doctor for Dummies” manual.

                    EpocratesWebMD

  1. Another favorite is WebMD Mobile. This application has excellent graphics and allows physicians to search symptoms and treatments. (Yes… even Doctors use WebMD!)
  2. Medscape (from WebMD) is a sister app that is just for looking up medications and their interactions. This app is similar to the feature already available in Epocrates.
  3. A slightly difference type of app is MedCalc, which gives docs quick and easy access to medical formulas.

                   MedScapeMedCalc

  1. Even more exciting are applications like AllScripts Remote which allow docs to log in to their professional schedules and electronic medical records in order to reference patients on the go, for instance, if they are on call and need to step out from dinner to take a patient emergency call.
  2. PubMed On Tap (which also has a free Lite version) allows the educated physician to delve deeper into the realm of science and search medical journal publications to gain new scientific knowledge (and hopefully gain new insight on the not-so-common conditions)

                   AllScriptsRemotePubMed  

 So what does the mobile medicine market mean for physicians? Easier access to the information they need right on hand. It allows for more quick, efficient decision making and ultimately better care for you.

 Medical apps will definitely allow for more effective medical care because lets face it, most docs have ditched their pagers and subscribed to the iWorld… but even with faster tools for medical care, I doubt you will be waiting any less time in the waiting room for your physician. If anything, they’ll use the extra time to catch up on SportsCenter or NPR while they finish their lunch.