Friday, 21 August 2009

Trace, Kevin Calderone

Trace. Even saying it kicks off the soundtrack in my head. One of the first games I downloaded for my daughter to play, Trace allows children to problemsolve while playing, as they work to get a little red stick man on a journey to the sun. Each "world" (volcano, flame, water, space, etc.) initiates a different background setting, with its own theme tunes and challenges.

Your job is to trace a path with your finger around a landscape with various moving obstacles. Each screen gets harder, but small achievements along the way make it very satisfying. You can erase errant lines, hop over gaps and try as many times as it takes to achieve success. This is one game we come back to time and again.

You'll like it because
: As fun for adults as for children.
Too bad: The soundtrack will stay in your head long after the game is shut down.
iPhone Apps users gave it 4/5 stars
Cost: FREE
Ages: 4-9

Pet Playpen, Sparebytes

When I faced the thought of the 8-hour flight from our home in London to my mother's house, in Washington D.C., it was not without trepidation - living away from my family, we do this a lot. All of which would be tolerable - if not for the bored child sitting next to me.

But for the first time, I was in for an unexpected moment of ease. I was loaded up with a portable DVD player, coloring pencils, sticker books, etc. Turns out, I needed none of them. Because, I have an iPhone.

The week before we left, I loaded up the phone with as many kid-friendly apps as I could find (and stand paying for - often the best ones do cost) from the Apps Store. I added traditional games, like Checkers ("Draughts"), coloring apps, memory games, etc. but the one that got the most traction, and left me free to read my book for hours at a time, was the Pet Playpen.

This Tamagotchi-style game offers the chance to "adopt" a penguin, kitten, dog or rock and watch over it using Food, Toys or Hygiene (read: washing and pooper-scooper style activities). Clean, simple cartoon graphics plus an ongoing requirement to "care" for your pet kept my daughter engrossed for a huge chunk of time. Which made it our favorite new apps; plane and simple.

You'll like it because: As addictive as jellybeans - for kids or adults.
Too bad: If your kid doesn't move fast to keep that pet happy, the animals run away.
iPhone Apps users gave it 3.5/5 stars
Cost: £1.19
Ages: 4-9

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Balloonimals, IDEO Toy Lab

This app is simply for fun, a silly balloon animal game that takes full advantage of the iPhone's various functions, like allowing players to "blow up" balloons,shake them into animal shapes and then pump them up with air until they explode.

My daughter's favourite bit was how the completed animals made various silly noises and motions if you poke them into different places. A good game for a variety of ages, as even small children can play and the instructions are very clear. There's also a teaser "LITE" version available for free, to trial it out.

You'll like it because
: The animation is fantastic, great sense of humor
Too bad: There's a limited number of balloon animals, meaning the product has an attention-span shelf-life.
iPhone Apps users gave it 3/5 stars
Cost: Lite is FREE, Full-fat is £1.19
Ages: Any age can play

Saturday, 15 August 2009


Welcome to our first official blog here on KiddyApp, a site designed to help you find the very best iPhone applications for your children. The idea for the site came at a brainstorming meeting myself and friend Patrick were having. We both work in mobile/wireless internet companies in London, UK and both have a passion for the iPhone. In between idea sessions, we talked about what we were up to, our families, kids, the usual. The conversation moved to our mutual love affair with the iPhone, and how it had ended up being something we and our children used in equal measure. We shared our frustration with the limitations of the iPhone Apps Store, and how difficult it was to find quality applications to share with little ones.

Next thing you know, we were making lists of what apps we each had found on our phones. We wondered how people were finding apps for a market like this, and started to snoop around online. We found some sites, mostly fellow bloggers who were parents who wanted to "pass it back" but not too much variety among them.

So here we are. If you're a developer who can't figure out how to get your family-friendly app promoted, a parent who is trying to find the next best "pass back" game or just someone who is passionate about the "small-fry"Phone, come along with us. Let's find and present the best the iPhone has to offer.