Amazon has a new plan to get kids reading.
The tech giant on Wednesday launched Amazon Rapids, a reading app aimed at 7-to-12-year-olds. The paid app contains hundreds of stories, all told in dialogue animated to look like text messages.
The interactive app allows readers to swipe back and forth through dialogue, prompting each new message to appear on the screen. Until the reader prompts the next message to appear, the character who speaks next will even look like they’re typing, with the three dots familiar to anyone with iMessage.
The app, available on iOS, Android and Amazon Fire, has “hundreds” of stories and will add “dozens” each month, Robinson said.
The app allows readers to look up words they don’t know and save them to a glossary. It includes a “read to me” feature for the app to read the dialogue out loud.
The stories are written by children’s authors, many of whom have written Amazon-exclusive children’s books in the past. Professional illustrators, many of whom have also worked with Amazon before, draw the stories’ accompanying illustrations.
Children’s television was placed “front and centre” of the BBC’s future plans by senior executives at the launch of a dedicated iPlayer Kids app [yesterday].
Speaking at the launch of the new designated app, director general Tony Hall said that children’s content was “so important to the BBC and what the BBC offers to this country”.
His comments come after speculation last year that cBeebies and CBBC could face an online-only future as part of cost-cutting ahead of charter renewal at the end of this year. BBC3 was made online only last year, saving the corporation £30m a year.
Alice Webb, director of BBC Children’s, said the corporation was committed to broadcast as well as online content for “as long as children are watching it and the majority of viewing is still coming through those channels”.
Children’s programmes are the most-watched genre on BBC iPlayer.
I didn’t know quite what to expect from yesterday’s Secret Sauce Conference, organised by Vincent Dignan of Magnific and hosted by Google Campus. ACHUKA is not exactly a startup and not by any stretch of the imagination can I be described as a young entrepreneur. But I AM looking to revamp/relaunch and I have long suspected that, active though I am on Twitter, Instagram etc., I am not sufficiently businesslike about the time I spend on such networks.
I have used the ‘achuka’ soubriquet for all my online activities ever since founding the ACHUKA website in 1997. This means it makes no difference whether the reason you are following me is primarily books, photography or web matters – you get everything I post. There are good things and bad things about this setup. Yesterday has prompted me to consider separating out these different interest streams, but I am not yet decided either way.
The short talks (20 mins with questions afterwards) were all of an excellent standard – brief, pacy and thought-provoking. Vincent Dignam himself delivered four of them – 3 during the main conference, and one at the after-party, held at WeWork Soho. These four talks were packed with practical suggestions for maximising time spent on social networks. He offered to email participants the slides, an offer I am dearly hoping he will honour, since I was able to note down less than a tenth of his suggestions, such was the momentum with which he delivered each talk.
Equally impressive were the presentations by Adnam Ebrahim of Car Throttle and Steven Bartlett of The Social Chain (especially helpful in terms of creating and then targeting an online community). There was much to take away from the day with regard to publicising and promoting children’s books and authors and I am guessing in the months to come there will be developments and changes in ACHUKA that can be traced back to this Secret Sauce conference. The same can be said for increasing exposure of my photography portfolio.
Thinking of all the dull, anodyne educational conferences and inset days I have attended in my previous life, I have to ask myself why there should be such a contrast.
The three presenters I have mentioned are each still very young (early 20s) and now heading up organisations of a significant size.
The adroitly placed after-lunch session was an amusing presentation by Hermione Way, talking about how she went about promoting Vibease, a vibrator capable of responding to remote input, either provided by an absent partner (the device was first conceived for couples living a long distance apart) or the ebb and flow of erotic stories in an accompanying app. Writers so-inclined take note – you are able to submit stories to this app, set the price for the story then earn 50% of sales.
Occasionally during the day I did question the apparent obsession with online exposure and connections for their own sake, and a cavalier willingness to plaster the web with silly stories just to prove a point (control of the medium). But I had to keep reminding myself that these were white-bearded thoughts, out of keeping with the sprightly go-get-it young crowd I had been fortunate enough to be welcomed amongst.
Nosy Crow Jigsaws is a new free-to-download jigsaw puzzle app, featuring over 200 jigsaws based on artwork from the publisher’s award-winning apps and print picture books.
You can choose the level of complexity for each jigsaw, from 4 to 300 pieces, using an intuitive slider that adjusts the difficulty level. There’s a “piece rotation” toggle, which allows you to start with jigsaw pieces randomly assorted or in the correct position. There’s a very easy-to-use “tray” to search through pieces as you work on your jigsaw. You can zoom in and out to explore detail in each jigsaw and see the whole picture. There are information pages at the end of every jigsaw – learn more about our books and apps and explore more of the picture with “Can you see” questions for young children.
Watch Ed demonstrate just a few of the great features in the app at the video at the top of this post.
Amazon announced KDP Kids yesterday. It’s a new tool designed to help children’s book authors prepare, publish and promote both illustrated and chapter books in Kindle Stores.
Children’s authors can use Amazon’s new Kindle Kids’ Book Creator tool to create illustrated children’s books that take advantage of Kindle features like text pop-ups.
“Authors want to focus on telling great stories and we want to help them do that. No one should have to be a computer programmer to create a beautiful, illustrated Kindle book for kids,” said Russ Grandinetti, Senior Vice President, Kindle. “Kindle Kids’ Book Creator makes it easy. In addition to helping authors craft their books, we’re helping customers find them with things like age and grade range filters.”
The era of 99p music and app downloads will be coming to an end in 2015. Voracious readers will be spending more money, on average, for their audiobooks, eBooks, newspapers and magazines.
Nosy Crow is celebrating the third anniversary of their groundbreaking first fairytale app by making it FREE all this week:
Today we’re launching a very exciting promotion: Our groundbreaking first fairytale app, The Three Little Pigs, is exactly three years old today, and to celebrate, we’re making it free for the first time ever. You can download it from the App Store here.
This weekend’s Observer Tech Monthly featured “The Best of British Startups” as represented outside of London in places like Brighton, Edinburgh, Bristol & Bath and Belfast (these four given double-page spreads); also Newcastle and Manchester (both full-page spreads); with other cities summarised on a final page listing.
It struck me how few of these companies are focused on children’s entertainment or education, an exception being Brighton-based Lighthouse Learning, co-directed by Danielle Barnetche and Alex McGregor.
Oxford University Press has created a new iPad app designed to help children learn how to spell. Called Spell with Pip: An Oxford Spelling Game, the app turns spelling into an arcade-style game for the 4-8 year olds.
The app features a parrot named Pip who does somersaults when the player correctly places a letter. When the word is misspelled, he squawks and loses a feather. Pip serves as a kind of guide through a jungle of letters and spelling games. The app has more than 3,000 words, all of which were taken from the Oxford’s First Dictionary. The app is Oxford University Press’ first children’s dictionary app.
Two Left Feet is an app produced by the Australian company Resin that animates the picture book of the same name by Adam Stower.
Currently priced £1.49 on the app store.
N.B> For some reason, when I did a search for it on the store it didn’t show up – I had to use the link appstore.com/twoleftfeet
The app works with any existing edition of the book and users without the book can print out a special canvas to create the same effect and enjoy the full experience. It also includes a 2D mode featuring the book’s original illustrations combined with narration.
The developers, an animation and visual effects company based in Adelaide, Australia, developed the idea after optioning the book, Two Left Feet. Their initial plan to translate the book into a 3D animated film was put on hold and the studio developed the concept for a new hybrid between interactive books and 3D animation to create the app. With the first book finished, they are now in discussions with publishers and authors to bring more books to life using the process they are calling boooKAPP(TM).
“Because the boooKAPP technology works with existing editions of books there is a huge potential to apply the same process to other beloved stories that are already in millions of homes” said Grant Lovering, Creative Director at Resin. “My young children were mesmerised the first time they experienced Two Left Feet. It’s a new way for children and parents to experience and explore their favourite books together and use the technology in a really positive way.”
“I am a huge fan of animation and when I illustrated Two Left Feet I tried to give as much movement to the characters as possible,” added Adam Stower, author and illustrator of Two Left Feet. “I am very excited to see this new app breathe life into Rufus and his friends. I hope it will bring lots of extra enjoyment to fans of Two Left Feet, and introduce many new readers to Rufus too.”