Favourite Apps

iPhone, iPad, and iPods have become the TOY OF CHOICE for ALL members of our family. We handed over an arm, a leg and every penny we’ve ever earned to pay for them (okay, so Glen’s work paid for his, but the cost still chokes me). That in mind, we feel we must get our money’s worth, and the apps that people recommend along the way are helping us do that.

Which is why when I publish my Friday Favourites each week, more often than not there is an app on the list. Here is an ongoing list of the best APPs we’ve found along the way!

Favourites for the Whole Family

Incredibooth Remember those photo booth picture strips? I have one of me and hubby from when we were 16. We look all cute and sweet and we’re slobbering all over each other. Now I can take one anytime (and I do). So easy and only $0.99!

LaDiDa When my nephew was born a few months ago all the girls gathered round the iPhone to sing him Happy Birthday. With this app you simply sing a song and it will add a beat and accompaniment to your voice. Then you wow the masses (a.k.a. the grandparents) via e-mail, Facebook or Twitter. They call it reverse karaoke. We prefer “rhythm synth pop” style, but “tasty breaks rap” is cool too. Only $2.99, but worth the hours of fun my girls have had playing around with it, especially since we discovered it will also create a video of you singing.

Scrabble, Monopoly and Risk are our favourites. Board games have been born again! No more lost pieces, no more dishonest bankers taking unauthorized “interest payments” (you know who you are), no more table-clearing brawls over who gets to be the top hat, and no more heated debated over the word Q-A-T (yes, that is a real word). Board game apps are the best thing since sliced bread – not absolutely necessary, but a whole lot less work!

Disneyland Explorer is the Happiest App on earth. The price makes me happy (free!) and there are all kinds of fun little games and videos as you poke around virtual Disneyland. It’s the kind of holiday that really works in this economy. If you’ve been to Disneyland and love it, or if you plan to go sometime, or if you think it’s overrated and lame, but are a sucker for free things, it’s definitely worth the $0!

About Me! allows you to enter your name and birthday so you can find out all sorts of interesting facts: name meaning, number of days you have been alive, famous people who share a birthday, historical events that happen on your birthday… Don’t tell the kids, but the ensuing discussions about Abraham Lincoln and the emancipation proclamation, Gene Kelly and Nazi Germany, are actually EDUCATIONAL. We were having so much fun figuring out all sorts of obscure facts about ourselves, that they didn’t even notice the teaching/learning/broadening horizons that was happening. And the cherry on top, as always, is the fact that this app is free. WARNING: be careful not to get the about.me app, which is completely different; a social networking app where you can send out all sorts of personal information (and a picture) of yourself and find out the information of anyone who is nearby. Basically, my every worst nightmare as far as my children are concerned, wrapped up in a single app.

Bump has been a lifesaver since L got herself an iPod Touch. After much debate, To iPod or Not to iPod: That is the Question we decided to let her have her heart’s desire. BUT she opted for a 3G, which means no camera and no photos, which was kind of disappointing. When two devices have it, they can pass pictures or contact information by simply selecting and then “bumping” together. Not only is it easy, it’s kind of fun! And now we have all the photos we want on our own phone/pod/pad. Everyone’s happy.

Favourites for Kids

Math Bingo Until now… we have tried a number of apps, songs, videos and good old fashioned drills, but this is the one that actually worked! I don’t have to assign this as homework – all 3 of my girls choose to play it, just as often as the other purely “fun” apps. After playing each round you earn a “math bug” which you can use to play another game (which seems to be the love child of Angry Birds and Pong). And the price is right at only $0.99!

Toca Boca Hair Salon is a favourite app in our house right now. All three girls LOVE giving Santa a rainbow-streaked mohawk. Who doesn’t? You can style, shave and colour his hair and beard with the touch of a finger. Although we could spend $1.99 to make over many different characters, my kids are perfectly content with the free Christmas version.

LightSaber Unleashed is an app that both I and my 3-year-old nephew really enjoy. Feel the force on your iPhone as you use realistic sound effects to draw and swing your LightSaber and, well, that’s pretty much all it does. But it’s a LightSaber, so how cool is that! The latest version is a slight upgrade from the program I have, still free, and will totally make you the cool auntie.

Favourites for the Mature

(or those who pretend to be)

Insta-paper lets me click “read later” whenever I come across an interesting article or blog post. It’s the most I’ve ever paid for an app at $4.99, but worth every penny. I don’t have time to sit down and read everything I stumble across while surfing the web or scrolling through my twitter feed. When I do find the time I can read my personal “newspaper” of articles at my leisure.

FOR MARRIED GROWN UPS: The iKamaSutra is $0.99 of inspiring ideas, even those that inspire the question “what the…?” and “why?” It is password protected, so you don’t have to worry about the kids trying to play your new “game”. The illustrations and explanations are tasteful – instructive and not at all like creepy porn.

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