She’s 9yo now and we have a second version released to the Store
Alex! Any time I WhatsApp you, send SMS messages or call, you would never respond. And most of the time your phone is on silent.
– Dad. You know I am very busy! If you want me to see your messages, build an app that blocks my screen so I can never miss it.
That was a nice idea and I loved it.
The very same day I started drawing screens.
I am a Product Manager and an R&D manager with 20 years of experience building software solutions. In this game I just wanted my kid to be happy and proud.
I just want my kid to be happy and proud
The app is called HedzApp.
It took 9 months to build the first version (which was uploaded to the Google Play Store in September 2019). The version was free and allowed the communication of one parent with 3 children.
We had a set of 5 stickers (predefined picture messages) which were used to communicate between parent and children. It turned out, for small children (5 and all the way up to 13) most of the conversations are compiled from short contextual messages. They rarely send long text messages.
– I am hungry.
– Where are you?
– I don’t want to sleep.
– Please buy chocolate.
All the messages can be easily replaced with drawings and it worked well! My second kid (5 years old by that time) was returning from kindergarten, grab his tablet and send me a picture of a house, which was saying to me “I am back home”.
After receiving the first wave of users after sending it over to friends and posting on social networks, we started receiving feedbacks which were mainly supportive and positive.
“Wow! That’s a nice thing but I want to be able to send such stickers to my husband because he always ignores me while at work”.
“This is great but location tracking is missing. I want to see that my kid is at school.”
“Dad. I want you to add stickers for “sleep” and “homework” cause they will be useful.”, told me Alex. So I contacted the designer and we added these too.
We collected all the feedbacks, selected the most important ones and in another 4 months of development, on February 7th, 2020 we have uploaded an update:
- The limitation of 1-to-many has been removed. Anybody could now send messages to everybody else in the family.
- We added voice messages and picture messages.
- SOS alerts have been added too. They are able to override volume settings and play alert upon delivery even though the device is on silent. It is also good for locating phones that are “lost” in a room.
- Location tracking is displayed with delivery statuses.
- Delivery updates were extended and the sender can now track every sticker for delivery, review and could get reactions to the messages as well.
- We simplified the design, added a lot of hints and step by step explanations.
- We made 2 versions — a free one with slightly limited functionality and a premium version which supposed to be unlocked by monthly or annual subscription. We embedded 2 weeks of free trial for every subscription created.
A month later, as the Corona disaster hit the World, we update the trial period to 300 days in order to help families keep the connection with loved ones.
This is not a messaging app.
Consider it to be a graphical walkie-talkie of some sort. This is an ultimate alerting tool for distributed and busy families.
This is not a messaging app but a simple to use walkie-talkie.
As I work from home and keep myself closed in my room, my children keep alerting me through the app. They also speak with each other through voice messages and send pictures to grandma.
One of the most important features is the ability to avoid lots of messages. Every new sticker replaces the old one if not opened yet. Simple and convenient. I always see the last one which is the most important.
That was a great experience that continues going forward.
I feel like a super dad, cause Alex shows it to everybody, adds her friends to our family circle and comes to me with creative ideas for the new versions.
It allowed a lot of creativity, persistence, and belief that such an app is good for modern, busy families with parents working and children occupied with their activities with music classes, sport and visiting friends.
We are in control through a game-like experience we have created together and it feels good.
Stay safe during the crazy times!