What is it?
An online community aimed at kids aged four and up. Set in an airport, the app is exclusively designed for tablet and mobile. It has a PEGI 3 rating.
What they say
‘Explore the airport, meet and chat with friends and play games. Help the wacky looking airport vehicles load and unload the planes. Get uniforms and clothes with special features in the airport shop and much more!’
Format and price: The basic version is free to play on iOS and Android with in-app purchases of coins ranging from 200 coins for £2.29 to 2750 coins for £24.99. For a monthly membership fee you get access to extras. One month is £2.99. Three months is £2.83 per month and a 12-month membership works out at £2.49 a month. Find out more here.
What’s the reality?
Airside Andy players wander around the different zones of Intercity Airport with their personally customised avatars, making friends and chatting with other players.
Helping out with chores around the airport and playing mini games earns players coins to buy food, clothes, costumes, haircuts and accessories to personalise their own hangars.
The best bit is the funny little bubble-powered hovering machine that picks you up and whisks you away to the other zones: the airport shop, the warehouse, the control tower and more.
On the downside, the game can be slow to load each zone and, rather like a real airport, there is a fair bit of waiting around.
Sidney, eight, played it for Parent Zone. He says: ‘I love the fact that other players can come into your game and that you can make friends. I like that you can buy stuff and that you have your own hangar. But there’s not that much else to do and you spend a lot of time just walking about. I would love it if you could go into the planes and talk to the passengers.’
Sonny, four, also had a go. He says: ‘I love everything about it but my favourite parts are buying clothes and changing your hair and making friends. I also like the binoculars that you can look through to see the bits of the airport close up.’
What parents need to know
To get started, you create and customise an avatar, give it a name and enter the parent’s email address.
Soon afterwards, the parent receives an email asking them if they wish to approve of their child playing the game. They do so by clicking a button.
Once the parent has approved their child, they are given the opportunity to create an account – using their email and a password. This account enables the parent to monitor all player avatars created using their email address and if they wish, disable them.
A parent must approve the child’s account before they can add friends, view their avatar or make purchases. If this isn’t done within 10 days the account is deleted.
To make an in-app purchase, such as buying coins or paying for a membership, you touch/click onto the shopping basket in the top right hand corner of your screen. You then need to answer a simple sum which sends you to the iTunes store where you log in with your password. If you are already logged into iTunes it will take you straight through to payment options.
There is no advertising for in-app purchases happens while you are playing the game, although if you try to buy something in the shop and you don’t have enough money it will say ‘Help the vehicles and play mini-games to get coins or buy more’ above the ‘Buy’ button.
The game requires Android 4.0 and up.
To make in-app purchases, answer a simple sum to take you through to Google Play. Beware, if you are already logged in to Google Play it takes you straight through to the payment option buttons. If not, you are required to enter your password.
The makers of Airside Andy say that the ‘sum gate’ is the suggested way of blocking kids up to the age of five. However, if an older child is playing this on your device and you are logged into either iTunes on Google Play, they will be able to leap over the ‘sum gate’ and make an in-app purchase.
The makers of Airside Andy say that their ‘aim is to provide the maximum level of safety and security to all our players and their families.’
All accounts must be approved by the parent or guardian and the app uses profanity filters and in-house moderation to monitor all new user accounts and usernames. Users cannot change their names once they have been approved and after that, all conversation is through a fixed chat facility so there is no need for further moderation.
Free chat among players is not allowed. Social interactions are all communicated through pre-determined phrases such as ‘Nice to see you’, ‘Let’s play a game’ and ‘That is funny’.
Airside Andy is a safe, secure, colourful and fun introduction to the world of online communities. There’s plenty here to occupy younger minds but the sluggish speed at which each zone loads and game content (there’s only one mini game at present, with more planned) may not hold the attention of eight-year-olds and over for very long.♠
- The ♠ symbol at the end of a review indicates that the company has paid us an admin fee to guarantee a review will run prior to publishing but does not affect the content of the review or the rating given. The same criteria are employed by our reviewers for paid-for and free reviews and the fact an admin fee has been paid does not have any bearing on what our reviewers say about the product.
- Since our review, the makers of Airside Andy have made some amendments to the app including making it quicker to load, adding more in-app games, introducing virtual pets and revamping the map to make the app easier to navigate.