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Robot Media


Once upon a time there was a story builder…

In 2012 we started the private beta of our children’s book authoring tool Storybuilder. Developed by a handful of developers as part of our Robook platform, Storybuilder allowed authors to create interactive stories for iPhone, iPad and Android without writing any code. We called these stories robooks.

3,367 people downloaded the private beta, ranging from independent children’s book authors to large publishers, and even massive tech companies. Hundreds of robooks were produced, some of which we published in our marketplace Storyteller. It also started to grow beyond our expectations: teachers used Storybuilder in their classrooms, designers created animated portfolios and even developers prototyped apps with it.

We are extremely thankful to everyone who tried Storybuilder, and specially to the storytellers who created content with it. Seeing authors realize their ideas with our little tool inspired us, and was probably the main reason we kept tinkering and improving the platform for so long.

Until we couldn’t anymore. Put simply, we were unable to prove that there was a viable business behind Storybuilder in order to continue. Some of our assumptions about the tool and Storyteller were wrong, and perhaps we bit more than we could chew.

The result is that effectively immediately we will stop supporting Storybuilder. Storyteller has been unpublished, and Robook Reader -the app used to view robooks- will be unpublished in September 25 at 17:00 CET. Finally, our own website will be soon revamped. Those who have already downloaded the Storybuilder beta may continue using it, but there will be neither further updates nor support.

We have and will open source a lot of the technology that was developed for the Robook platform. And of course, we will keep maintaining our previous endeavors, such as the popular English Idioms Illustrated and A Comic Viewer apps, with renewed energy. After all, every ending is a new beginning.

Thank you to everyone who was a part of this adventure. If you have any thoughts or questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch by email at [email protected].

Hermes Pique

Head Robot.

RMStore: a lightweight iOS framework for in-app purchases

We recently released RMStore, our latest open source contribution. RMStore is a lightweight iOS framework for in-app purchases. It adds blocks and notifications to StoreKit, plus receipt verification and purchase management. All in one class, without any external dependencies.

Purchasing a product is as simple as:

[[RMStore defaultStore] addPayment:productID success:^(SKPaymentTransaction *transaction) {
    NSLog(@"Purchased!", @"");
} failure:^(SKPaymentTransaction *transaction, NSError *error) {
    NSLog(@"Something went wrong", @"");

RMStore currently supports consumable and non-consumable products. Subscriptions, content downloads and OS X are on the roadmap.

The project is still on an early stage but we already use it internally. The code is well documented, contains unit tests and is released under a Apache 2.0 license via GitHub. Contributions and feedback are more than welcome.

Apple gets ready for the new App Store Kids category in iOS 7


Apple website screenshot

A screenshot of the Apple website showing the iOS 7 App Store and the new Kids category.

Earlier this summer Apple announced at WWDC a new Kids category for iOS 7 that would be designed for parents and teachers. As iOS 7 release looms closer, the press has reported that Apple has invited developers to prepare their apps for the new category.

This development follows a recent expansion of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) to cover mobile apps, and an increasing presence of the iPad in USA schools.

Apple Insider has published the email that Apple has sent to developers:

At WWDC, we announced a new Kids category for the App Store in iOS 7. The new category provides parents with a place on the App Store to find age-appropriate apps for their children. If your app is made specifically for children aged 11 or under, you can now choose an age range for your app on the iTunes Connect website. The following age ranges are available:

* Ages 5 & under

* Ages 6–8

* Ages 9–11

You can only choose one age range for each app. Apps approved for the Kids category will still have a primary and secondary category, but will also appear in a new, separate area of the App Store. To assign the Kids category to an already existing app, submit a new version of your app for review. Starting this fall, the currently existing Kids subcategory for game apps will no longer be displayed on the App Store.

To choose the appropriate App Store category for your app, see the App Category Definitions page in the Manage Your Apps module on the iTunes Connect website. If you think that your app’s current category definition does not fit anymore, assign a new category with your next app update.

Learn more about creating, submitting, and managing apps for the Kids category in the iTunes Connect Developer Guide. Ensure that your apps comply with the App Store Review Guidelines before submitting them for review.

Additionally, ZDNet and the Telegraph have published the relevant Review Guidelines:

* Apps may ask for date of birth (or use other age-gating mechanisms) only for the purpose of complying with applicable children’s privacy statutes, but must include some useful functionality or entertainment value regardless of the user’s age.

* Apps that collect, transmit, or have the capability to share personal information (eg, name, address, email, location, photos, videos, drawings, persistent identifiers, the ability to chat, or other personal data) from a minor must comply with applicable children’s privacy statutes.

* Apps primarily intended for use by kids under 13 must include a privacy policy.

* Apps primarily intended for use by kids under 13 may not include behavioral advertising (e.g. the advertiser may not serve ads based on the user’s activity within the App), and any contextual ads presented in the App must be appropriate for kids.

* Apps primarily intended for use by kids under 13 must get parental permission or use a parental gate before allowing the user to link out of the app or engage in commerce.

* Apps in the Kids Category must be made specifically for kids ages 5 and under, ages 6-8, or ages 9-11.

At Robot Media we are excited about this news and we are already in the process of updating our apps for the new Kids category. Additionally, we are rolling out changes to better comply with COPPA and follow industry recommendations that have surfaced since last year’s expansion of the act.

We believe a curated Kids category will only raise the quality of children’s book apps and greatly simplify discovery. Of note is the disappearance of the Games for Kids subcategory, which might blur the line between content and games even more.

Disclaimer: as iOS app developers we are under a confidentiality agreement about future releases of iOS. We can only discuss information released by the press or by Apple. 

Google features The Wormworld Saga app in Google Play

Google Play screenshot

The award-winning Wormworld Saga app is currently being featured by Google as part of the Staff Picks for Android tablets. The free app includes all published chapters of The Wormworld Saga graphic novel and is optimized for reading on tablet devices, including the new Google Nexus 7.

The Wormworld Saga is an episodic graphic novel designed for tablets, from the mind of acclaimed illustrator Daniel Lieske. Unlike traditional graphic novels, each chapter is digitally painted on a seemingly infinite canvas, providing an immersive reading experience that draws the reader into a fully realized fantasy world.

The Wormworld Saga app is the 4th comic book app produced by Robot Media to be featured on Google Play/Android Market, after Robot 13, The Adventures of Simon Pegg and Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little App.

The Wormworld Saga is also available for free for iPad devices. Earlier this year, the app won the Publishing Innovation Award at Digital Book World New York.






Robot Media @ Barcelona Startup Fair: Recruitment & Beer

Despite the abysmal news coming out of Spain, the Barcelona startup scene is powering on. The Barcelona Startup Fair: Recruitment & Beer is showing local and international talent, that there are great things happening in the Barcelona tech scene; an scene with an unparalleled lifestyle compared to any other major tech cluster in Europe.

A group of 25 companies including Robot Media have come together to hold a joint recruitment event this June 12 at the Antiga Fabrica of local beer maker Estrella Damm. Between all the companies there are around 80 new jobs in internet based companies which need to be filled, primarily in technical and design roles.

The Barcelona Startup Fair: Recruitment and Beer will give access to 350 developers and designers. The organizers are working on a great mix between local talent, people from technical and creative schools, plus internationals who want to execute their great work in Barcelona.

To attend register here and don’t forget to come along to the after party, for a few more drinks and talking startups. www.revivelanoche.com will organize the after party.

See you there!

RMPaint: an Open Source Painting Library for iOS

Touch painting is a very requested feature in our children’s book apps and is also a part of Storybuilder, our children’s book authoring tool. Instead of repeating code over and over again we decided to create a library just for it: RMPaint. And we made it open source while we were at it.

RMPaint is an iOS painting library based in the GLPaint example by Apple. Its main features to date are:

  • Paint with touch gestures
  • Dynamic brush and color
  • Save and restore painting sessions
  • Designed for iOS 5 with ARC
As usual, we invite developers to fork RMPaint and contribute or request improvements. We will be adding more features shortly.

Robot Media presents Storybuilder at The London Book Fair

The London Book Fair is one of the main publishing events of the year and reunites 24,500 publishing professionals. Now in its 41st year, the Fair introduces an App Zone, in which Robot Media will be presenting its children’s book authoring tool Storybuilder.

Come visit our booth at the App Zone on Tuesday 17 and Wednesday 18 April to play with Storybuilder, and get a very exclusive t-shirt for storytellers.

If you can’t come, make sure you request a Storybuilder invite via littlerobot.com.

The Storybuilder icon gets featured on Dribbble

The Storybuilder icon made its official debut on the booming design community Dribbble, and in a matter of hours became the most popular shot of the day. A hint of things to come? ;)

The icon was designed by icon superstar kadjax and is based on the Robot Media mascot designed by Jamie Noguchi.

Curious about our children’s book authoring tool? Request your Storybuilder invite via littlerobot.com.

Robots invade Bologna Children’s Book Fair

Bologna Children's Book Fair logoThe premier children’s book authoring tool Storybuilder makes its debut at Bologna’s Children’s Book Fair 2012! Storybuilder allows authors and publishers to produce interactive picture book apps for iPad, iPhone, Mac and Android. And it’s powered by little robots that are also behind hundreds of apps, including content by Random House and HarperCollins.

Pitch your digital children’s book

To celebrate the unveiling of Storybuilder, we will be selecting 10 original children’s book projects that will get privileged access to Storybuilder and personalized support from the Robot Media team. If you’re a children’s book author who wants transform a story into a memorable app, come to our booth and pitch us your project on Tuesday 20 10:00 AM.

There’s free goodies!

Come find us on Sunday at our stand during TOC Bologna, or during the main event at the TOC Pavillion, Hall 26 B 90. We will be giving away collectable robot stickers and demoing Storybuilder live, and you’ll want us to fail: if Storybuilder crashes in front of you get an exclusive “I am a Storyteller” t-shirt!

Oh, they gave us the mike

You can also hear our Head Robot @hpique babble at any of the following sessions:

Let’s make it a Robot Children’s Book Fair. See you there!