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Kytephone transforms smartphones into a kid friendly zone

Kytephone transforms smartphones into a kid friendly zone

Five months ago Renat Gataullin was in a park on the California coast.

He was with the two co-founders of his company, some friends and their nephews. They were flying kites when an idea came to them. The three men had been searching for a name for a new phone app they’d created for children.

It was right in front of them.

“Kites have the freedom to fly around but you do have a string to pull it,” Gataullin says. It was an apt metaphor. Their app allows parents to control the phone but still lets children play games and make calls to trusted numbers.

“Kids have the freedom to use it but parents still have peace of mind,” he says.

It’s called Kytephone and it officially launched on Tuesday June 12. The app transforms any Android phone into a kid friendly zone. Parents control the numbers their child can communicate with and set limits to the types of apps they download through a browser program.

kytephone interface 1 Kytephone transforms smartphones into a kid friendly zone

Kytephone completely transforms Android phones, giving them a kid friendly look and feel.                                                                                                                                     Photo: Kytephone

It also lets parents track their children using GPS. “One of the immediate questions parents have is, ‘Where are my children?’” Gataullin says. “If we have the GPS feature we can immediately answer this question. Parents can log into the dashboard and view the kid’s location in real time.”

kytephone gps Kytephone transforms smartphones into a kid friendly zone

What parents see from their browser when they check the location of the phone. Photo: Kytephone.

Parents can also limit the use of games through Kytephone. They can set gaming time limits, such as one hour per day, or rules, like no games after 10 pm. They can also control the types of games their child downloads.

“The idea was to enable only certain applications and hide the rest,” Gataullin says. “Parents can enable some educational games and disable other games if kids aren’t behaving well.”

kytephone interface Kytephone transforms smartphones into a kid friendly zone

Kytephone’s interface uses photos or character images instead of numbers.       Photo: Kytephone

Kytephone is based in Toronto but much of the product development took place in Silicon Valley. This winter the team took part in an accelerator program (a type of bootcamp for young tech companies) called Y Combinator in Mountain View, California.

Y Combinator helped fund Kytephone and also gave the team access to some of the brightest minds in tech. During their three month stint with Y Combinator the Kytephone team met the founders of both Twitter and PayPal.

It was in Mountain View that the team made a drastic switch from Gataullin’s original idea, which was to create a simplified phone interface for older users, like his mother, who aren’t comfortable with technology.

Realizing the number of people who aren’t comfortable using smartphones is a shrinking demographic rather than a growing one, they went in another direction. “We decided to look at the other end of the spectrum, which is kids,” Gataullin says.

There have been attempts to make phones for children before. Firefly Mobile makes phones designed for kids but it focuses on creating hardware. Kytephone takes a different approach, modifying software to suit kids instead of creating a physical phone.

Kytephone is available for free in the Google Play store.

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