AppCertain – App download notification system keeps parents in the know

New Apps Installed! Meet the AppProfessor from AppCertainBy now you’ve heard about all the latest and greatest apps, from Instagram and Kik to the new 6-second video sharing site called Vine.  And you’ve wondered: are my kids using those apps? If you’ve got younger children you might have restricted them from downloading apps, or you’ve set them up with your Apple ID so they need you, keeper of the password, when they’re ready to try out a new game.   However, if your kids are older or you haven’t set up these safeguards, it could be anything goes in the App Store.  That’s the kind of situation where AppCertain could be your new friend.

[Article updated 6/26/2103]

What is AppCertain and how does it help monitor apps?

AppCertain is a free app monitoring service that notifies you each time a new app is downloaded onto your child’s iDevice.  The service will also let you know some important details about the app:

  • Does the app use location tracking?
  • Does the app have in-app purchases?
  • Does the app have ads? (Many free apps use ads to generate revenue.)
  • Does the app have any educational value?
  • How much did the app cost?

This is valuable information that you might not detect by just looking at your child’s device and perusing the apps.  For example, if an app allows for in-app purchases, you can check to make sure you have set up restrictions to prevent in-app purchases on the device.  If the app has ads, are they appropriate for your child’s age group? (I’ve seen ads for dating sites in a popular word game app!)

How it works

AppCertain  uses something called a “security profile” to detect new apps.  First you download the AppCertain app onto the device (iPad, iPod Touch or iPhone) you want to monitor.  Then the app installs a security profile to detect apps.  The security profile only collects the bare minimum of information needed to provide the service.  They do not collect “contacts, the device’s location, your child’s email, or any data of other apps.”  Their privacy policy states “We use the ID of the device for security purposes to ensure no one else can see the list of apps installed.”  Once you have installed the service, you can safely remove the app from your curious child’s device; the service will continue to monitor what apps get installed.

When a new app is detected, you get an e-mail.  Here’s a sample e-mail I received after installing a few new apps on my iPhone:

Sample e-mail from AppCertain

Sample e-mail from AppCertain

 

Now if this had been something my daughter had downloaded, I would want to take a closer look.  Since she is too young (says me) for Facebook and Twitter I’d be sure she was not connected to those services, and find out more about the in-app purchases available in the app.

Multi-device tracking

AppCertain tells me that this is something they are working on.  Yea! You can now track more than one device.  You can purchase additional devices as in-app purchases for a one time cost of $4.99.  I think this is a small price to pay for the peace of mind of knowing what your kids are installing.  And, AppCertain is providing Be Web Smart readers with an extra device for free! Once you’ve installed AppCertain on one device, just email support@appcertain.com with the code WebSmart713 and your AppCertain account email.

Monitoring is only the first step

So if you’re looking to get a better handle on the apps your child is using, AppCertain is a useful tool.  As with any monitoring tool, it is not a replacement for open and honest communication with your child.  (AppCertain or any monitoring service should not be looked at as “spying” – in fact AppCertain suggests you let your child know you are tracking their apps.)  But by using these tools you have a great way to get a conversation started about the apps, games and online activities your child is involved in.

How to get AppCertain

AppCertain is available here on the Apple App Store.

 

About Jean

Hi! I'm a webmaster, technology educator and creator of Be Web Smart. I hope you found this article useful. If you are new here, you might like to sign up for e-mail updates, view Links and Resources on similar topics, and subscribe to the RSS feed.