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What's News: Mommy, Can I Play with Your iPhone?

By Tema Frank

Imagine: You are sitting in the pediatrician’s office and the wait is getting mighty long. Junior is whining. In desperation, you lend your little darling your iPhone to keep him entertained. There are now thousands of iPhone apps for children, so you can get your work done or read the dogeared magazines while Junior plays. Suddenly, you hear a terrifying noise, the sound of your iPhone dropping to the floor. Craaaack!

As of this writing, a new iPhone costs $659 (16 GB) or $779 (32GB) on the Apple Canada website. U.S. prices are only slightly lower. Is entertaining Junior worth the risk of having to fork that over?

Griffin Technologies and Iceberg Kids have come up with a simple, ingenious way to deal with this situation: a plush toy called a Woogie. It looks like a green furry octopus (though it only has six legs). Its back, however, is a pouch into which you can insert your iPhone behind a plastic screen that keeps it fingerprint-free and securely held in place while the surrounding stuffed animal keeps the iPhone safe from damage in the event of falls.

The Woogie, which retails for $19.99 USD, also has a built-in speaker and a headphone jack (so Junior doesn’t disturb the others in the waiting room). Its legs can be used to prop it up for easy viewing from any position.

Fig 1

Of course, physical damage is not the only type of safety you have to worry about when your child wants to play with your iPhone. The other one is safety from viewing inappropriate content. Although Apple has done its utmost to remove inappropriate apps from its store, your child can still access the Internet from the iPhone, and some bad apps will slip through. Developers are starting to offer parental filters for iPhones and other mobile devices. As we know from computers, though, these are not foolproof. Ultimately, parents must monitor what their children are viewing and teach them how to react if they come across something inappropriate. So even with Woogie, it is a good idea to peek up from your magazine or laptop every now and then to see what Junior is really up to.UX

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User Experience Magazine is by and about usability professionals, featuring significant and unique articles dealing with the broad field of usability and the user experience.
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This article was originally printed in User Experience Magazine, Volume 10, Issue 2, 2011.
http://www.usabilityprofessionals.org/upa_publications/past_issues/2011-2.html.

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