Mobile

Famigo SandBox lets you pass mobile devices to your kids worry-free

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Worried about your little monsters calling or texting your boss when they’re playing with your phone? Well, thanks to Famigo’s SandBox app, you can rest easy.

The free Famigo SandBox turns any Android phone or tablet into a kid-friendly device, granting kids access only to the apps on your phone known to be kid-friendly, as well as those you choose to approve. There’s no access to the web or any advertising.

The goal behind SandBox is to “make mobile work for families,” said Famigo co-founder and CEO Q Beck, a former executive for Nickelodeon and Dreamworks. Indeed, that seems to be the goal of all of Famigo’s products, like its review site that lets parents find family-friendly Android apps.

“Let’s face it: Kids love mobile media. That’s not a bad thing; mobile devices empower parents to facilitate anywhere, anytime learning. With Famigo Sandbox, parents can unlock the benefits of mobile media without risk,” Beck said in a statement today.

SandBox not only provides a safe environment for kids, it’s also an app-discovery tool, giving parents recommendations for other apps their kids might enjoy. The company says it has over 8,000 users in its beta program, who have essentially crowdsourced a list of over 40,000 child-safe Android apps. SandBox also provides parents with a weekly report of the apps their kids use and the amount of time spent on them, which could help parents learn more about what their kids enjoy.

The app itself is simple for kids to navigate, sporting bright colors and large icons. To exit the app’s protected mode, parents have to unlock their phones with a special swipe. Famigo says the app will also grow with your child — for example, if you configure the app to recommend new programs for your two-year-old, it’ll know to bump up the target ages for apps as your child grows up.

The company tells me that SandBox works on over 500 different devices at the moment, and it’s also prepared for Amazon’s Kindle Fire as soon as it launches. The company says that there’s greater potential for SandBox on tablets, which are typically shared among the entire family, than on smartphones.

Given just how extensively the app locks down mobile devices, the company says it’s not possible to bring SandBox to iOS devices. It’s also exploring Windows Phone, but given how restrictive Microsoft is being with that platform, it’s unlikely that SandBox could be ported there in its current form.

Austin, Texas-based Famigo has six full-time employees. The company was incubated with Austin’s Capital Factory incubator, and it has raised an undisclosed amount of funding.

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