August 18, 2008

At Least 7 Kid-Friendly Apps For The iPhone Generation

ahhyeah_iphone_baby.jpgBah! 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!

[cc image via ahhyeah's flickr stream and]


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.


All those applications are just as useful on my little girl's two cans and string.

The number one essential iPhone must-have if you're going to let them use it is some sort of wiping device, preferably one that's wet with disinfectant. Honestly, there are 3d ridges of finger goo on my screen every time a kid touches it.

Honestly, you want to hand an iPhone to a kid and watch them sit transfixed? Just load up the Photos app and let them flick photos across the screen. Even my sister's kid, who's not even 18 months yet, gets it...

My vote for an actual App Store app does go to "Jirbo Match", a class matching game, though... it's free, which is exactly what my budget is for spending on games after upping my data plan.

There are some fun bubble games and more cowbell also. I never let my kids touch my iPhone until these came out. It sure makes waiting in a restaurant much easier with these built-in activities that we can play together.

It's not just my 18 month son that is awed by the Koi Pond iPhone app. I thinks it's brilliant. Though the sound of that running water has me peeing lots more.

Hi. Thanks for listing Hello Cow among the kid friendly apps. I did not think it would get any notice when I wrote it, but since my boy liked it so much, and since Apple made the App Store so easy to use, I thought why not? And he still likes it, particularly while Abbey Road is playing and he can add the moo sound to the album.

Great list! Wasn't aware of some of these, but will definitely check them out.

I'd also like to invite you to try iKids Play! iKids Play apps are based on children's picture books through 5 creative activities. Kids can rub the screen to reveal hidden images, color the pages, listen to the story, record themselves reading aloud, and paint new scenes on the paint pad. There are currently 2 titles available, with a 3rd being released this week!

Hope you enjoy!

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