A new app-roach to child safety
Our Digital colleagues don’t just apply their talents to DLG.
When an entrepreneurial member of the team spotted a gap in the market for an app that makes it easier for parents to get messages to their kids, he didn’t just leave the idea to dwindle.
Nick Herbert, product manager, sought out the help of an app developer and made his unique concept a reality. Here, Nick sheds light on his new app, ReplyASAP.
How did the idea come about?
A year or so ago I went on a product manager course where I was asked to come up with an idea for a product. I’d always had trouble getting in touch with my son, as he often has his phone on silent, so I thought about creating an app with a function that would be impossible for him to ignore. I presented my idea to the group and had really positive feedback about it. I thought if I didn’t do something with it I’d always wonder about what could have been, so the ReplyASAP app was born.
How does the app work?
It’s really simple. You just use the app to write a message to your child and send it to them. When it arrives, no matter whether their phone is on silent or not, an alarm will sound and the message will effectively take over their screen, preventing them from doing anything. The child can either snooze the message for a few minutes or read it, but either way you’ll be alerted. They can then respond to you to let you know they’re okay, either using the app or by their usual method of communicating. If the phone is switched off, a ‘message pending’ alert will show on the parent’s phone and the message will appear on the child’s phone as soon as the phone is turned on. It’s also possible to set messages to arrive at a future time, e.g. after school.
Was it a long process to get it built?
A lot longer than I wanted. I initially thought it would be ready back in April and started promoting it in my son’s school, but due to various obstacles it wasn’t ready until recently. So all in all it took about eight months. It’s given me a new found appreciation for how the scrum teams in DLG Digital work, as we’re all together in one place, sharing our knowledge and able to get things turned around really quickly. It has also made me realise what an important role testers play, as I had to do most of the testing myself.
How much interest has there been so far?
It’s still very early on, and there are millions of apps out there for all kinds of different things. So at the moment I’m just trying to raise its profile and make people aware of it. I’ve set up a Facebook page and Twitter account to promote it, which is something new for me, so I’m just getting my head around how all of that works.
Since I launched ReplyASAP last week, it has been covered by national newspapers and radio stations, and I’m still getting messages from journalists asking to talk to me.
Where can we get hold of it?
It’s already available for download from Google Play, and I’m currently working to make it available on iTunes. There are different bundles available depending how many people you want to connect to, ranging from 99p to £12.99, but the first person you connect to is free.
Has this spurred you on to develop more apps?
I have more ideas about how to enhance this one first, so I’m going to continue to do that. Developing an app isn’t a cheap thing to do, so if you don’t have success with it then it can just turn into a very expensive hobby. But saying that, if I have an idea that I think is worth doing I probably would, seeing as I now know how to go about it. It’s been really interesting and for the most part I’ve really enjoyed it.