One thing I love about modern technology is that, at the 11th hour, you can still pull out a fabulous gift thanks to the brilliance of apps.
Give someone a very Appy Christmas this year with our pick of apps for kids and apps for mums (and dads) — in fact, why not put together an apps bundle?
APPS FOR KIDS
The Land of Me Story Time/The Land of Me Making Things/The Land of Me Songs & Rhymes (£0.69 each, special Christmas offer)
It’s no secret that we’ve taken The Land of Me to heart here at Babes HQ ever since we first reviewed their BAFTA-winning app. Now they’ve brought their sensational illustrative and imaginative brilliance to the iPad with 3 brand new apps, guaranteed to engage and entertain both young and old. You can choose your own hero, adventure and ending (happy or sad) with Story Time, construct your own mad buildings in Making Things or sing along with Bernie the Croc in Songs & Rhymes, or make your own band! Unlimited good times.
Magic Belles (£1.49)
How can I describe this app? It’s simply gorgeous, filled with colour and melody that instantly lifts your mood. The Magic Belles are 6 fairies each with their own special abilities and you can interact with them via the app, tapping them to make music, count or create a symphony. There are hidden surprises on each page and within seconds of opening the app, both Ezra and Jed were sucked into its hyper-sensory world. I love seeing the delight on my 2 rugged boys’ faces as they explore this super girly concept and, unlike some apps, I actually enjoy listening to it when they play. Totally magical.
The Singing Alphabet (£0.69)
This app always cracks the boys up. Made by the team behind one of our favourite books, Operation Alphabet, this simple but super fun teaching tool transforms letters into characters, each with their own musical sound. It’s all built around phonics, now acknowledged as the most effective way to teach little ones to spell and read. Press on A and he sings a jazzy ‘ah ah’, tickle Ietter I in tandem and they’ll sing ‘ai ai’ in unison. Tap on W for one of our favourite sounds, the super bass ‘Wowowo’. It’s all put together with the charm, humour and attention to detail that made us such fans of the book. Buy it now!
Pixel and Parker (£1.99)
From the team behind top apps Tallytots and Operation Math, this app is an interactive narrative that puts a unique twist on storytelling. We follow young boy Parker and his cat Pixel who goes missing, and our quest to help Parker find his furry chum throws up 30 different possibilities at the spin of a wheel. I always loved those ‘choose your own adventure’ books as a kid and this app certainly keeps the boys hooked.
APPS FOR PARENTS
We heard about ParcelGenie when they contacted us to send us a little gift in the mail. Bribery’s one thing but this really is a fantastic app concept, as heralded by Cosmopolitan who called it ‘genius’. Download the free app and you can send a lovely gift to a friend or family button just by sending a text. Choose from more than 50 gifts on offer (starting at 99p), enter the recipient’s phone number, ParcelGenie texts them and they send their address for receipt. Ideal for last minute Christmas pressies!
If you’re a new mum about town or any mama visiting London with a buggy, this is an absolutely essential iPhone app. Basically it tells you how to use the London underground without breaking your back or tearing your hair out. You’ll find comprehensive listings of all the stations with step-free access, numbers of stairs and lifts, as well as details of best available exits and entrances and routes to avoid. How I wish I’d had this app at my disposal when I was still lugging the stroller around!
Haystacks, London for kids (FREE)
The folks at Haystacks are clearly mums after our own heart as they’ve created a very handy city guide for parents, in the form of an app. The guide offers detailed listings of London activities, attractions, parks and eateries for parents and young kids. It features hundreds of ideas for things to do at the swipe of your screen. Constant updates allow for much improvement, as the Haystacks team builds on more local knowledge to enhance their service. Definitely worth a look.
We reviewed Tweekaboo on its first release but decided to give it another mention as it’s made several useful updates. The app allows you to store photos, videos and text from your iPhone direct to its cloud service, safely preserving memories of your family life. Record pregnancy and baby milestones, funny moments with the kids, anything that takes your fancy – and it’s all as private as you want it to be. For those family members who are still wary of Facebook and other more public networks, this memory sharing and journalling app could be the way to go.