Tuesday, March 1, 2011

When a Free App is Not Worth It...

We all are getting a bit spoiled by free apps. For our whole career, we have been willing to pay a small price for books, games, rewards for kids, or items that would enhance our therapy. Then the App Store came along, initially offering tons of free apps. Their value once established, app developers are now reasonably expecting us to pay a couple of dollars for their work, but I still often hear people (SLPs and non) profess that they vastly prefer to download free apps. While free is certainly great, I think ruling out paying a small fee for apps-and a larger fee for apps with more extensive clinical application- is a mistake for a few reasons. First of all, it's important to support the developers that are creating high-quality content that can be used for educational purposes. Reward them and they'll make more! Secondly, many apps are available for peanuts- $.99-$2.99- and provide potentially countless hours of language-stimulating activity. Sure, these small purchases can add up, but try putting yourself on a budget. Buying and redeeming iTunes gift cards (or requesting them as gifts, when asked) can be a great way to keep that spending under control. Thirdly, there is the menace of the "in-app purchase" within so-called "free" apps. Many apps are free when downloaded from iTunes, but then are extraordinarily limited in function until you shell out money through an in-app purchase. Take for example, some of the "virtual food creation" apps- these can be awesome for building vocabulary, sequencing, categories and collaboration between peers. I downloaded a certain sundae creation app, and not only does it bombard you with several ads for other apps upon launch, you then have only a tiny selection of choices within each category among a screen of tantalizing, but locked choices:

Do you really want to keep our kids from getting the kind of virtual ice cream they want? Or pay for every little sub-level of ice cream (or dish, syrup or topping)? I don't. To reference a different kind of dairy product, I think this kind of app development is cheesy.

To see an example of a different kind of delicious app that is certainly worth ordering, even if it is $.99, tune in tomorrow!

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