E-Learning Mobile App Modernization

https://kidiyo.com/
Industry:
E-Learning
Location:
The Netherlands
Collaboration
2022-Ongoing

Customer

The customer is the Dutch leading player that aims to develop products that provide an all-encompassing educational experience for kids, enabling learning through play.

Beyond their Kidiyo project, they're also creating an online education platform for students, producing physical educational toys, and running multiple websites that sell educational toys in the Netherlands and globally.

Challenge

Upon the customer's approach to Cyfrania, the app had a history of five years. Two years ago, the owner began a rebranding effort centered around the concept of teaching small children about environmental care in a playful way. The plan involved creating books and adventure boxes featuring Kidiyo game characters and updating the game itself. The previous platform chosen to build the Kidiyo application, was not sufficient for Kidiyo's current needs therefore we need to change to Unity.

Here're the essential enhancements required by the app owner:

  • Redesigning the main menu interface - replacing regular mini-game icons with an interactive game world map.
  • Adding new mini-games.
  • Preserving a child's progress as they explore the game world.
  • Enabling app monetization with a subscription model.

Shortly after beginning our app review, the customer encountered an unexpected serious issue, leading to this primary task for our team:

  • Resolving app noncompliance issues with Google's revised privacy policy, which led to the app's removal from the Play Store.

Research

Upon performing an app source code audit, we discovered multiple technical issues:

  • Web-based technologies used to build the app don't support the game mechanics required for the interface improvements and gaming experience envisioned by the customer.
  • The app displays significant quality and legacy problems, including missing documentation and test coverage, along with outdated libraries, dependencies, and the source code itself. We meticulously researched and presented the customer with several potential scenarios for the app's future development:
  1. App modernization within the current tech stack - this would address data privacy and compliance issues, yet it demands significant resources, and the app owner's requested enhancements might be possible only to a very limited degree.
  2. Transitioning to a fully-fledged game development platform - this would fulfill all customer requests and any future app evolutions they could imagine, also resulting in an app that meets every quality and compliance requirement. We developed multiple app prototypes for the customer to compare the capabilities of different mainstream gaming engines, along with estimating the necessary costs. The customer decided to switch the tech stack and opted for the Unity game development platform.

Solution

We've crafted an app architecture that's equipped to accommodate intended and predicted evolution of the app.

After that, we started to rebuild the original app using the Unity game engine, at the same time improving the interface, visual styling, and gaming experience according to the customer's needs. The first version of the updated app became available to both Android and iOS users just 1.5 months from the start of the active development phase.

Five months since the start of the modernization, the app has incorporated these key enhancements:

  • Main menu for choosing mini-games is designed as an interactive game world map with animations and visual effects.
  • The visual style of four Kidiyo animal characters and the style of all educational mini-games in their worlds were refreshed.
  • All mini-games now feature considerably more complex game mechanics and visual effects, with levels of difficulty that are much more varied and interesting.
  • A new mini-game has been added to the gaming worlds of all four characters.
  • Registration process is now easier for parents, allowing them to include several children in one account.
  • The game fully meets Apple and Google compliance requirements regarding data privacy and age-specific content regulations.

Currently, the app's modernization phase is complete, and the team is moving to expand the app's functionality. Our initial objective involves maintaining game progress and analyzing user behavior statistics to fine-tune the gaming experience for each child uniquely.

Next, the customer plans to implement a paid subscription model and introduce support for multiple languages.

Results

The customer gained multiple crucial advantages from this modernization project:

  1. Modernization cost-effectiveness: The Android and iOS app was entirely rebuilt on a new platform and revamped by a team of just two developers in only five months, with the first release achieved in just 1.5 months.
  2. Every barrier to the app's evolution is eliminated: It's now able to become what the customer envisioned, something that was once technically impossible.
  3. Drastically cheaper subsequent development: It took us just 1.5 weeks to add a new mini-game to the app, compared to the months needed before.
  4. Meeting all quality standards: The customer no longer faces the risk of losing their user base, built over years, due to Apple or Google's app market removals.
  5. The game has become more appealing: It now runs faster, displays better on modern devices, is more convenient for parents, and significantly more engaging for children.
  6. The app now offers a monetization possibility: The owner can generate income, something that was technically impossible for many years.

Services Provided

  • Project management
  • Android and iOS mobile app modernization
  • Cross-platform mobile game development

Technologies Used

  • Unity
  • C#
  • Firebase/Firestore

Discover more about the project in our interview with Kidiyo's lead, Sophie de Jager!