Bah! Kids and their dads' iPhones! Back when I was a boy, the phone was on the wall, and we weren't allowed to play with it. We had a toy phone made of wood, that made some ringing noise, and the little eyes bobbled up and down, and we liked it.
Now, with this iPhone Generation, babies are not only playing with iPhones, they have their own Apps! Apps! For kids! For a phone! And here are a few of the more interesting-looking ones, minus any actual reviews or side by side comparisons of the multiple doodle and sketchpads, or the duelling bubble wrap apps. Because our only iPhone is made out of yarn. So feel free to chime in with your kids' favorites below. Now get off my lawn!
Kid Book Envi is an iPhone port of the iEnvision image browser that iPhonifies the viewing of scanned books from the web. Whether it's great or not depends on the titles online, which seem to lean towards old timey, public domain editions.
Several apps have been designed by parents for their own kids, including Clara, which is a simple baby timekiller: match the sound to the right picture. There are 16 image/sound combos, which doesn't sound like a lot, but considering how many times a kid can read the same damn book without getting tired of it, I'm sure it's plenty. [v2.0 suggestion: An open platform that let you make your own photo/sound/name combos would be nice, too. We'd teach the kid her far-flung aunts and uncles and cousins' names with a little photo album.]
Hello Cow is another parent-programmed app that's elegant in its kid-hypnotizing simplicity: it's a photo of a cow that says moo when you tap it.
Hello, other cow. Moo Box is another app with a cow closeup. It uses the iPhone's accelerometer to re-create that noisemaker thing you got at Spenser's Gifts when you were ten.
And rounding out the cow theme--is the iTunes App Store secretly run by infiltrators from Gateway?--iMilk, which looks frankly awesome in its ridiculousness. If it works half as well as I'm picturing in my mind, I'll finally break down and get my iPhone just so I can pretend it's full of milk. Or maybe I'll watch it once on YouTube and be done with it.
iMilk makes me want to see iSnowGlobe and iKaleidoscope, too, somewhere I hope a developer's kid is a good sleeper.
There are a lot of sketching and painting apps already, but I like the drawing-in-the-sand idea of Zen Garden, and the shake-to-erase is a nice touch. I can't tell from the screenshots, but it looks like it's really just a static background photo of sand and a sandy-style brush setting. Still, a nice break for the genre.
The breakout app for me, at least in concept, was FingerSound, an audio doodling program which sounds simple and awesome. This could either rock or suck; too bad there aren't audio samples in the iTunes store.
FingerSound makes me want to see an iTheremin app that uses the accelerometer and multi-touch to make music. Now that'd be a cool trick.