Kids Place app solves Carousel, purchasing problems

Child’s Place app solves Carousel, purchasing problems

I’ve looked for parental control apps for the Kindle Fire before, and haven’t found something that worked.

Today, I found this:

Kids Place – With Child Lock

It may have been there before and I’d missed it…or they may have just made it available for the Fire. It has a release date of October 19, 2011, but you can’t really tell from that.

This free app addresses many concerns people have with the Kindle Fire, and greatly increases its value.

The idea is simple: instead of opening to your homescreen, it opens to a different screen…and just the apps you want to allow are on there. If you want to go somewhere else, you enter a PIN (Personal Identification Number).

Once you launch it, it stays there, unless you choose to exit (and you need to enter the PIN for that as well). That’s even if you shut down the Kindle Fire and restart it.

Boom! Problems solved!

I set it up with just a few apps, to test it out. I had the ability to turn off the wireless…yep, no going to websites, no going to the stores to buy from Amazon.

One cool thing I could do was add the Launcher app. That let me go from the Kid’s Place setting to the regular homescreen (yes, that would show the Carousel). I couldn’t open any unauthorized apps, though, but I could open books and read them (if I allowed the Amazon Kindle app…if not, I blocked that as well).

It’s astonishingly simple and effective.

It’s only a four-digit numeric PIN, so it’s certainly not hacker proof, but it should generally serve the purpose…it even offers to e-mail you the PIN you set so you won’t forget it…that’s a nice touch.

Here are some good uses I see for it:

  • You can hide the launcher, and no one can see your Carousel
  • You can hide apps that may have personal information
  • You can allow just the videos you want, and no streaming
  • You can prevent all purchasing
  • You can prevent web browsing

I haven’t had a chance to test it much, but there seem like a lot of possible configurations.

However, it isn’t the most intuitive program ever.

The most confusing thing was that I went to Select Apps and picked the ones I wanted…but there was no “done” or “accept” button. I tried to go Home, thinking if I left the program it would save my choices…but it didn’t do that. Instead, it bounced me back to the program and said I didn’t have anything selected (although I did). The answer to that one? Pick the ones you want to allow, then use the Back arrow at the bottom of the screen.

Enabling Airplane Mode in the Settings is what turns off the web browser. ..I think I would have called it something clearer, like “Turn Off the Web Browser”. :)

The “Exit” option is only available from the Kid’s Space screen…not from the Settings screen, for example.

Those in no way outweigh the value of this app. It may be have enhanced the value of the Kindle Fire more than anything else in the Amazon appstore.

One caution: I haven’t used it much, so I can’t vouch for the stability (but Amazon has approved it for the Fire, so that means it’s been tested(. I put the Amazon Kindle app in Kid’s Place and it launched once…and then not again. Having the Launcher app in there, though, enabled me to open books.

This is something they probably can’t control at this point, but the ideal thing would be able to put specific books into Kid’s Place, so you could prevent kids from seeing the Carousel in order to read books. Again, that doesn’t overwhelm the positive…it would just make it even better.

This says it’s a Beta version, so it may not be around for long…if you do try it out, feel free to let me know what you think.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

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16 Responses to “Kids Place app solves Carousel, purchasing problems”

  1. D. Lane Says:

    Thank you so much for this. I spent a good part of the day on Saturday struggling to come up with a way to avoid the carousel –
    I really dislike it. It’s bad enough that all books are listed in historical order (with no other sort choices), but having everything else there too is very annoying. I considered trying to “root” the device to allow the use of another launcher, but read that doing so caused other problems.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, D.!

      Yes, that’s definitely a good use for it. I may just keep my main apps in Child’s Place…not for parental controls, but just to have a very clean opening screen.

      Amazon gives you the option to install third party apps…but also makes it clear that they aren’t responsible for problems those might cause.

  2. D. Lane Says:

    Have you posted anything about this app on Kindle discussion forums? There are a lot of other people who don’t like the carousel.

    Now if only there were an app to let you delete items from the carousel without removing them from your account altogether.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, D.!

      I have…I started this thread:

      Free App Brings Parental Controls to the Kindle Fire

      You can delete some items from the Carousel, but not archived books at this point. I think that will happen, in some way…just hiding the Carousel unless invoked would do it.

      • tuxgirl Says:

        Bufo:
        I just linked here from the kindle CS forum. Thanks for the hint. If you do an update to your book, you should include this.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, tuxgirl!

        I really appreciate that! I agree, I’ll add it. I’ve also had some minor correspondence now with the company…I’m going to suggest some specific changes (like allowing no PIN…Personal Identification Number…so it can be just a launcher). That would just be as a consumer, of course.

  3. D. Lane Says:

    If you are suggesting improvements for the Kids Place app, it would be nice if the link to the Kindle app allowed you to navigate between books. Right now, for exmaple, the kids place Kindle app will take you the page of the book you are currently reading, but you need to exit out of Kids Place aapp nd go back to the Fire Lunacher in order to switch to another book (or am I doing something worng?).

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, D.!

      You can add the Launcher app to Kids Place. Combining that with turning off the wireless means that the Kids Place user can read books on the device, but not get them from the archives or buy new ones. They will be able to see what is in the archives, though.

  4. D. Lane Says:

    hmmm, once I select the kindle app from the Kids Place menu, I land in my current book, but I haven’t been able to get out of the book to see what’s in the archives, without leavning the kindle app. Once out, though, I can use the Kindle Fire Launcher as you advised, but I was expecting the kindle app to be liike it is on my android phone, where I can do all my navigating between books from within the kindle app.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, D.!

      The Kindle for Android app isn’t available for the Fire…I believe what you are seeing is what the Fire uses to read the current book. The other books are selected from the Launcher.

      What I’m suggesting is that you add the Launcher app to your apps in Kids Place. You’ll see it listed. If you combine that with Enabling Airplane Mode in settings, the user can read books on the device, but can not download from the archives or buy more.

  5. Bruce K Says:

    Well its a nice concept, but much of the control and management of the content of the device should be within the “manage my kindle” interface on Amazons website.

    Just a few options such as:
    – allow video streaming to this device.
    – allow access to amazon prime from this device
    – restrict videos (select a maximum rating G, PG, PG-13, TV-14, R, unrated etc)
    – filter all content thru OpenDNS – a free content filter system
    – allow this device to purchase books.
    – allow this device to purchase music.

    I think folks are possibly missing the picture that Amazon is laying out here — this is a connected streaming device — for all intents an purpose. Its hard to find much mention of Android regarding the fire in marketing.

    I found that while the “control” is in this program, it completely changes the Kindle look and feel of the device.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Bruce!

      Certainly, Amazon could offer us more control through the Manage Your Kindle page…I’ve been saying that for some time.

      This, however, is a third-party program. It can’t make changes to the Manage Your Kindle page, which is controlled by Amazon.

      You can send your suggestions for changes to the Manage Your Kindle page to kindle-feedback@amazon.com. That’s a good thing to do, and may eventually get the changes you want through that conduit.

      A program like Kids Place is like a car on the Amazon road. Ford can’t fix the potholes…but they can still make the driving experience better.

      Even though it could use some enhancements, for me, this is more than a nice concept. :)

      You are right that Amazon doesn’t promote the Android operating system, which they’ve forked considerably (as I understand it). I think that’s part of their effort to differentiate their tablet from other tablets. While they quote people who use the word “Android” a couple of times on the product page, they don’t use it themselves. On the other hand, “stream” or some variation is used nine times by Amazon…I don’t think they are hiding that one.

  6. Bethany Says:

    I’ve been playing with the Child’s Place app and thought it was going to be the answer to all my issues with giving my daughter a fire for Christmas!! That is until I discovered that the app blocks the settings gear and you can’t adjust the volume. I am hoping there is a way to get around this because I really like the app but my daughter will be using music apps and the cloud player; she needs access to the volume. Do you have any suggestions?

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Bethany!

      I don’t find I adjust the volume much, but I suppose she might.

      I just looked for you…you can add the Settings app into Kids Place, which would allow her to adjust the volume…but would also let her do a whole mess of other things you may not want (including uninstalling Kids Place, I believe).

      I tried allowing the Launcher app, but that didn’t let me change the volume.

      I’m not sure how you would allow the volume and not allow the rest of the settings.

      One possibility, which I tested for you…external battery operated speakers with adjustable volume. I use one that looks similar to this one (mine is a Durabrand model)…I paid $5 for mine, this one is about $9 right now:

      Portable MP3 speakers

    • bob riley Says:

      Thanks for the suggestion Bethany. We’ll look into adding that as a legal activity or may add that as as something that needs a pin in order to change when Kids Place is running.

      Bob Riley
      Kiddoware

  7. Richard Says:

    Is there something similar that can be applied to a Kindle Touch?

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