Amy Solomon is our lead writer over at sister site GiggleApps. Here Amy looks back at five years of kids apps and shares her favorites.
Toca Tea Party – A must-have for children as this app for iPad allows them to play tea party with other dolls, stuffed toys or people, charmingly intuitive as users share digital food and drinks – excellent for fostering creative role play and social interaction.
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore – Based on the short film of the same name about a man writing the book of his life, his adventure through a natural disaster, and the love of books and reading. The look of this app – a mix of both black and white as well as a rich use of color – will be impressive to all, as will the varied interactions which work seamlessly within this story to create moments adults will find possibly more touching than their children.
Rounds: Franklin Frog – A perfectly realized non-fiction storybook about the life cycle of a frog. Impressively illustrated and surprisingly moving, this app is rich in interactive moments, frog facts, and biology basics.
Zachy the Robot: The Leaning Tower of Robocity – A wonderful blend of cartoony storytelling and thoughtful interactive educational content that brings basic engineering concepts to devices as children help robot workers who have the task of fixing buildings and other objects that are on the verge of collapse.
The Poppin Princess – a flatulence-themed tale that may not be for all families, yet this is a perfectly-realized storybook in every way, creating a modern classic with great elegance, sophistication, and a lovely moral about being yourself.
I hope to see more children’s apps developed that will encourage children to learn, build and create and explore.
In the last few weeks, I’ve noticed an interesting trend among my young cousins. No longer do they want cuddly toys or regular action figures from Santa. This year, it’s all about iPhones and iPads–a marked change from the increasingly distant days when I was a kid. Given the importance of such devices this Christmas, we thought we’d take a look at just how apps are invading the toy aisle and offer a few ideas for festive presents.
Ideas for Babies and Toddlers
Fisher Price offer plenty of great ways of integrating iPhones or iPads with your kids’ playtime. The Laugh & Learn Apptivity Case turns devices into a form of 21st century rattle. Noisy beads keep them interested, while a mirror means that baby can take a look at themselves. There’s peace of mind too, as the case can withstand drool, teething and a certain amount of throwing around. It comes in iPhone/iPod Touch and iPad varieties.
The Apptivity brand continues from there, too. There’s a Storybook Reader, which turns an iOS device into a book that can be turned just as easily as a conventional tome.
For the more active baby, there’s the Gym, allowing babies to hone their motor skills in conventional ways, while also playing peek-a-boo with the Fisher Price app.
Finally, there’s the Monkey, with its cuddly toy nature combined with the power of some fun iOS games for the youngster.
Toddlers can enjoy the fun of Dora the Explorer Let’s Play Backpack, which lets kids place a toy backpack on an iPad in order to unlock new activities to learn logic, Spanish and many other important skills.
Toy Vehicles for the 21st Century
Remember as a kid how much fun it was to play with toy cars? Disney and its AppMATes toys have brought that up to date. Disney Cars2 AppMATes come in two varieties: Lightning McQueen/Holley Shiftwell and Mater/Finn McMissile. In both cases, kids place the car on the iPad screen before taking it for a spin around Radiator Springs. It’s perfectly safe for the screen, too, thanks to the rubber contacts, although doesn’t work through screen protectors.
For the Scientific Child
iTikes offers a great range of toys that turn iOS devices into more educational tools. The Map Explorer uses a form of Augmented Reality to help kids interact with a world map, as well as learn about the Solar System, dinosaurs and animals.
Other toys such as the Microscope, Keyboard and Canvas offer a similar mix of educational fun. It’s all helped by the fact that kids don’t require an iOS device at all times to enjoy the toy.
This week at 148Apps.com, we celebrated the unbelievable 40th birthday of Atari. Writer Lisa Caplan says, “It’s a tiny bit depressing that many of us here are older than Atari. Still as OG’s (original geeks) most of us equate the name with our and their glory years of gaming. Recently the former giant has been reinventing itself, having previously released their VCS catalog and a few arcade hits in a Greatest Hits package for iOS, and with more recent forays into the App Store like Circus Atari and Centipedes Origins. They are also winding up a contest for indie developers who took their original, maybe the original video game, PONG and remade it for iOS. The finalists have been announced and can be found here. The company turns 40 today and much of the recent flurry of activity is to celebrate the occasion.”
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2011-04-07 :: Category: Games
GiggleApps.com stayed topical this week with a review of Avengers Origins: Hulk. Amy Solomon writes, “Avengers Origins: Hulk is a new universal interactive storybook apple ication that introduces the classic Marvel character, the Hulk, to children. I really enjoy this re-telling of such a classic story, narrated by Stan Lee who does an outstanding job as one would expect. I enjoy how this story unfolds, especially for children who may be new to this character as this app opens up with a thoughtful introduction, walking readers through Bruce Banner’s difficult childhood, becoming a scientist and the details of the faithful day that Banner becomes mistakenly affected by gamma radiation, developing the uncontrollable ability to turn into the Hulk when he is angered.”
Finally, 148Apps.biz writer Carter Dotson reports that, “A new report by Localytics shows that more users are sticking with their apps, and iOS users are more likely to stick with apps than Android users are. Where in 2010, 26% of users would open up an app once, and the same percentage would use it 11+ times, now only 22% launch an app just once, and 31% will use it 11+ times. This may show that users over time are either starting to find apps that they would show an interest in using long-term, or app quality is starting to increase. The long-term trend will be interesting to see: will users continue to come back to their apps? Or is this a temporary blip?”
This week at 148Apps.com iPad cases were on our collective minds. First, site editor Rob LeFebvre reviewed the new Hammerhead Capo Case, stating, “The Hammerhead Capo case is a solid, good looking basic case for $40. It comes in black, blue, white, red or orange leather-grained polyurethane. It covers the whole iPad, with molded open areas for the dock port, headphone jack, rear camera, and volume buttons.”
Meanwhile, Lisa Caplan also took a closer look at Brydge, a new Kickstarter project. Lisa writes, “There is a new Kickstarter project, Brydge, by Brad Leong that will come close to converting an iPad into a notebook with a hinged aluminum case and Bluetooth keyboard that looks a lot like a Macbook.”
We also had many, many new kid-friendly app reviews on GiggleApps, including Amy Solomon’s review of the latest Toca game, Toca Kitchen Monsters. Solomon says, “I have a real treat for readers today as I would like to announce that recently, Toca Boca released a free version of their popular digital toy app, Toca Kitchen. Titled Toca Kitchen Monsters, this new app includes two monster characters whom players can cook for and feed, complete with monster-like table manners and house-keeping skills.”
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-04-05 :: Category: Education
Children’s apps were the focus on 148Apps.biz as well, as Kevin Stout reported on a new study released by Ruckus Media Group. Stout writes, “Parents are tough customers to please. While it’s obvious that children’s apps and games need to be appealing to kids, it’s the parents that those apps are really targeting. Ruckus Media Group just announced the results of its national study about children’s educational apps and parental preferences. The research, done with research group, PlayScience, looked to investigate what app experiences parents provide for their children, what parents prioritize in children’s apps, parents’ involvement in their childrens’ reading, and parental guilt with digital devices. We spoke to CEO of Ruckus Media Group, Rick Richter, and obtained some additional information about the study.”
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