Dear Apple, could we please have a Kids category in the App Store?

When Apple added the new Food & Drink and Catalog categories in the App Store, it showed that Apple was still working on App Store organization, but also highlighted how much work App Store organization still needs to be done. As the mother of a young child, I've been waiting a long, long time for one category in particular -- a Kids category.

Shopping for kid apps is incredibly difficult in the App Store right now. In fact, Google Search provides better results than the App Store itself. Occasionally, Apple will feature a temporary Kids section, like they do for special events and holidays, but it never sticks around for long, and has never been made a permanent category.

Apple markets the iPad as being a great device for children. They show off how iPads help special needs children. They're actively trying to get iPads into schools. They feature children using iPads in commercials and promo videos. They've also recently replaced iMacs with iPads at the kid's table in Apple Retail Stores, and those iPads are filled with kids apps, and nothing else.

The Education category in the App Store is filled with many apps designed for kids, but that only exacerbates the the problem. It doesn't help parents who are looking for general, not education-specific kids apps, like coloring books, games, puzzles, books, etc. And it makes it even more difficult for high school and college students to find what they need in a sections flooded with apps for young children.

The App Store needs a complete makeover. Apple bought Chomp and is making changes to the way search results are returned, but unless this fall's iPhone 5 event brings with it an entirely new, entirely improved App Store interface and discovery experience, more and better categories are one of the few short term improvements we can get.

It would be great to see Apple introduce a Kids category. In a perfect world, subcategories by age and by type would also be nice -- apps for very young children are as different from apps for pre-teens as games are from educational apps. But even a general Kids category would make it much easier for parents to find fun apps for their kids, easier for developers to get attention for their apps, and clean up the current Education category for students who are looking to learn something more difficult than their ABC's and basic arithmetic.

I'm a parent and I want to buy more apps for my child. A kids category could make that much, much easier for me and for all parents.

Former app and photography editor at iMore, Leanna has since moved on to other endeavors. Mother, wife, mathamagician, even though she no longer writes for iMore you can still follow her on Twitter @llofte.

  • As a parent and a developer, I have a concern that any arbitrary taxonomy of apps will be misleading, similar to the age-old music categories in iTunes (what I call Folk you call Rock and she calls Pop but in some minds is Alternative) A "kids" section could be applicable to 2 year olds or 16 year olds. Educational games are sometimes applicable to both younger kids and adults (as are my apps). Non-Kid apps may be very appropriate for use by kids.
  • This is exactly why I said "In a perfect world, subcategories by age and by type would also be nice -- apps for very young children are as different from apps for pre-teens as games are from educational apps."
  • But what about when that app for an 8-year-old is just as useful to someone with a mental disability, or someone with head trauma from a serious accident?
  • Totally agree with you Leanna. I'm actually surprised by how difficult Apple makes it for people to get the most out of the App Store. I love my iPhone and iPad, but the App Store could be so much better with just a little bit of organization. There are so many amazing apps. Finding them is much harder than it should be.
  • There are learning tools for kids made by toy companies. A Tablet that is not cheap, is no child's toy. You want your kid to play with your iPad, that's up to you. I wouldn't do it. That's just me.
  • Yep. I let my less than two year old play with my iPad. In fact, she inherited my iPad 1 and it has nothing but kid apps on it. It's great device for her and in addition to lots of things like colors, numbers, animals, sounds, she is also improving her fine motor skills by using the iPad. I am raising her how to appropriate use and handle an iPad and it's also safely housed in an Otterbox Defender to help protect it against those inevitable accidents. Clearly I'm not the only one who lets my child play with an iPad as there are thousands of apps in the App Store that are being sold for young kids. Now, I do understand why one wouldn't let their kid play with an iPad. Different people make different parenting decisions. For me, my kid, and my family, the iPad is a great learning tool and, yes, toy.
  • My 6yr old used my ipad and had her own ipod touch (that she prefers over ipad surprisingly) since it came out. I did get her an ipad for exclusive use. Kids can mess things up. But with a proper case, it's fine. She just scored in the 98th percentile overall for Kindergarten (K5) taking the SAT. She was reading during her K4 year. There's several good apps out there and duds as well. I must have bought over a hundred at least for her. Some have been keepers, others duds, and yet others that she simply outgrew. It's not all ipad or ipod though, she still spends most of her time using traditional methods. Right now she prefers regular books to read. But other things she prefers on ipad or ipod like math drills or word games.
  • I don't let my children use my iPad. They have full ownership of their own. The education section is endless! As a homeschooler, the device is a godsend. My 3yr old has Endless ABC as her top pick. My daughter creates Educreations episodes for struggling math students (including her brother). I cannot say enough good things about iPAD. They also have kindles for when I've restricted them to books only. I'm a techy-freak! The app store seems to be improving bit by bit. They have the tiles for preschool up to high school now.
  • Can you sort/filter apps in iTunes by age group? If you're able to do this within an existing category, you just learned about a work-around to finding age-appropriate apps. If the above doesn't work, what about a third party app catalogue? Most of them highlight discounted apps, but there may be some that allow more advanced sort/filter options.
  • Less than two with their own iPad? Geeze parents are ruining kids these days. I went to a restaurant and saw two kids maybe 6 years old with their own iPads. That is crazy... I am an adult who worked for the high priced items and these kids get them as gifts. My child will not have such items until they've proven they can work for them. Game systems, hand held, leap frogs and things of the like, sure. A $500 tablet.... Absolutely not. It's not healthy for a child. A kids section in the app store isn't needed. Maybe just subcategories in the educational section. I allow my 7 year old to use mine under my supervision so I do agree with the usefulness of it for the youth. I just don't agree with these kids being spoiled with such items at such young ages. Where do we show our kids the value of hard work?
  • Who said that just because my daughter has her "own" iPad that she is just allowed to use it whenever and where ever she pleases with no supervision? She doesn't spend hours a day on the thing. And I also didn't drop the money on the iPad FOR her. She got my old one. As an iPhone/iPad enthusiast, I keep all my old devices whether they will be used or not. I'm using the new iPad, my husband is using my iPad 2, and my daughter has my original iPad. It being "hers" only means that the only apps on that iPad are kids apps. It's also the iPad that's protected with an Otterbox Defender. I assure that my daughter isn't being ruined because she has an iPad. And she will definitely understand the value of hard work as she gets older. We are already instilling such values in her at her young age by making her help put away her toys and laundry. And if someone decides to drop $500 on an iPad FOR their kids, who am I to judge? Just because I would never do it, doesn't mean that I look down on people who do.
  • $500 for a device is only if you are the adult. You can buy ipads all day long for repair @$150-175 (which I do). I give all the kids in my extended family one as well.
  • One of our favorite pictures of our son is of him in front of an original Mac using "dynamite" to blow up some art he'd drawn with Kid Pix. He's a successful graphics designer now. I get /his/ old hardware! Just kidding, but that's not far from it. iPads/iPods/Apps are opening an incredible new world for this next generation. I learned computer programming on a punch-card system in school (1967) and that basically catapulted my career ahead, but I can understand some parents' reticence. The idea of a 3rd party catalog worries me as a developer. There are consortiums of developers that promote their apps. And there are sites and apps that "curate" vetted apps. Anyway, the app rating system is only about relative amounts of adult content, not cognitive development. The flat EDU category, in general, has toddler apps mixed in with calculus... silly. Same with Entertainment. And as you say, there are special categories that come and go. I think you are spot on, Leanna, and your categories make sense.
  • Leanna: I totally agree with you!
    In fact, I got frustrated enough to first, write a book to help parents to find the best iPad apps based on age of the child and area of learning. Next, due to the interest in the book, I started a website: Apps For Kids Reviews ( to help provide additional help in finding the best apps for kids.
    Now, due to the interest in the site, I am expanding the site next month (and designed professionally) with a new name: Kids Best iPad Apps. One key point of difference is that the apps will have both a written review and a video of the app-in use, so parents can find out quicker which apps are best for their child.
    Overall, my guess is that Apple will figure out they need a category for kids, after all, I believe there are only :-) 30,000 apps in the education category alone.
    Mitchell Cogert
  • I have been thinking about this for weeks now. I have a young daughter who loves to play on my ipad. It has been difficult to find age appropriate games and apps for her. I would love this section in the app store. I know there would be some work because of age and things, but I don't think it's impossible. Most apps are displayed in at least 2 categories already, so what would it hurt to make another category for kids, especially toddlers.