The following interview was with Tom Bonnick, digital project and marketing manager at Nosy Crow.
1) Tell us a little bit about your company
Nosy Crow is an independent children’s publisher of books and apps. When we make apps, our focus is on highly innovative, multimedia stories, with lots of animation, interactivity, music, narration and artwork – we’re not interested in squashing books onto phones or tablets.
2) How did you get into the business of developing iPad/iPhone apps?
We began developing apps in 2010 and our first app, The Three Little Pigs, was released in February 2011. The potential of touch screen devices for storytelling was something about which our founder and managing director, Kate Wilson, felt very strongly (you can read about some of her very first impressions in a blog post from December 2010, here: http://nosycrow.com/blog/appy-days).
3) What makes your Animal SnApp: Farm app stand out from similar apps?
Most of all, I would say the quality of the artwork and animation, which are simply beautiful. The slider game, which unlocks each of the app’s six rhyming stories, is also very innovative. And it’s an app which places quite an emphasis on narrative - it has real stories.
4) What's the target audience for Animal SnApp: Farm and why?
We’ve made the app for children aged 2-3 upwards, and every part of the app has been designed with that age group in mind. It’s simple to use and navigate through, the artwork and characters are very friendly, and the setting and stories – on the farmyard – are ones with which young children will be familiar. It also has a number of features especially for pre-literate users: highlighted text to encourage early reading comprehension, and rhyming stories, which help make reading accessible through sound and repetition.
5) How did you come up with the names of the characters in Animal SnApp: Farm?
We were bound by a number of things, really – the names are all alliterative, they had to fit within a rhyme scheme and scansion pattern, and they had to reflect each character’s behavior to an extent – so it was really a case of whatever met all of the criteria, I think!
6) How does this app fit in with some of the other apps you have already released?
Well, in many ways Animal SnApp is totally different from our other apps: it’s our first rhyming book app, our first app using the slider-game mechanism to unlock the story, our first app with multiple stories, and our first storybook app with artwork from Axel Scheffler. It’s also the first app we’ll be “turning into” a book – Axel Scheffler’s Flip Flap Farm will be published next year, although it will be in a very different format from the app. But I think it’s also very recognisably a “Nosy Crow App” – we’ve put the same emphasis on the things we believe in: great story, artwork, and animation, original music and child voices, lots of interactivity, and, above all, quality.
7) Can you tell us a little bit about any apps that are going to be released in the near future?
Our next app is Rounds: Parker Penguin, due out in December. This is the second app in a series of innovative life-science apps based on circular characters whose real life stories start where they end. Each app follows the life cycle of an animal through three generations, although you can continue the story in an infinite loop if you'd like. They're illustrated in a bold, graphic style, are highly interactive and fully animated - with original music, narration and sound effects - and they each have a charming, simple story. They're great for teaching young children (3+) a little bit of biology and inspiring a general enthusiasm in science.
8) What's some of the general feedback you have received from users?
Very positive! The aspects people seem to have responded to most strongly have been the artwork and the multi-narrative elements. This is an app that we’ve tried to make simple and age-appropriate, whilst also being something that children would want to return to, and I think we’ve succeeded.
9) Did you have to make any changes or updates when Apple's iO6 came out?
No - the app was released after the launch of iOS 6.
10) Other than your own apps, what is your favorite app?
There are many! For children, I like Toca Boca’s apps a lot. I like the simplicity of ‘In my dream’, which was independently produced. And I think Bold Creative did a nice job making an app from the Oliver Jeffers picture book The Heart and the Bottle. My all-time favourite apps (that aren’t ours) are probably the ones that Touch Press have made with Faber – The Waste Land and The Sonnets in particular.