HomeBlogCreating iPhone Children's Books - The Goldilocks Example

Creating iPhone Children's Books - The Goldilocks Example

Published August 21, 2009

My daughter loves when my wife and I read her children’s books before bed. Typically after a book is done we get the “one more” plea and it’s usually too hard to resist. Once the iPhone joined our family, the children’s books had some competition. The “one more” plea convinced a lazy dad, me, to resort to audio book podcasts or youtube videos of storybooks. The audio books were great, but my daughter had nothing to look at and quickly got bored. The youtube videos were non-interactive and were difficult to stop when questions were asked (“Daddy, why is her hair blue?”).

The light bulb shined and after a long chat with my wife and my business associates we decided there was a huge potential in writing children’s books apps that read to you. Ok, I know what you are thinking, “lazy dad can now let his iPhone do all of the work.” No, this is strictly supplemental. I still read plenty of physical books to my kids.

Construction started on a prototype app based off the book “Goodnight Moon.” My wife Civia did all of the recordings. She has an awesome recorded voice. We even use her on our business phone auto-attendant system. Lilly, my business associate from IntuApps, provided the details of how the book should operate. She insisted on touches for every word. She even fedex’d me a better copy of the book so I could get it done super fast. I came up with a master plan:

  1. We need two tracks, one for the main storyline and the other for the touch to hear features.
  2. The pages themselves are actually rendered using html. That way I can provide interactivity and maintain layout using css.
  3. The audio would need to be marked up to segregate each word, beginning and end. Also, we need to know when each page should turn. Doing files for each word/page would take up too much room and be harder to maintain.

The prototype was really nice, but the old book was protected by lots of copyrights and the imagery was not very modern. Lilly insisted that we make a new book with our own illustration on a public domain book. Out came “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.” The illustrations were modernized with TV’s, the wording was updated to match today’s foods (who eats porridge anymore?) and the feature set now included page swiping and squeaking bears hidden on every page.

My daughter loves the book/app! During the development, she didn’t even read the book! She just went through every page and clicked the bear to make it squeak.

Well, assuming this does well, we will continue on our path to assist lazy moms and dads all around the world in taming the “one more” plea.

Download Goldilocks and the Three Bears in iTunes


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Ronnie Schwartz is the CTO and founder of RustyBrick, an agile web & mobile development firm that creates effective applications and focuses on finding the right balance between time to production and software quality to get clients in front of their customers quickly and effectively. Ronnie brings over twenty years of innovative design, programming and management expertise to the table.

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