Kids. Who’d have ‘em? The idea of changing nappies, cleaning up sick, and seemingly endless months of sleepless nights doesn’t appeal to everyone (I can’t imagine why), but if you’re lucky enough to have a cherub or two of your own, you’ll no doubt take all the help you can get to keep them sedated for a few minutes. The iTunes App Store is more than happy to oblige.
There’s a plethora of paid apps out there for kids, but you don’t have to spend a penny to keep your little angels entertained. True, many of the free apps lure you in with gratis action then charge over the odds for additional content, but it’s a good opportunity to break down in tears and educate your young 'uns about the economic crisis. Everybody wins. Other than iTunes.
Here, in an entirely random order, are nine of the best free iTunes apps for kids.
Toy Story 3 Memory Match is essentially Concentration, the card game in which you turn over cards in pairs and try to match the pictures on the bottom. There are no adverts, no cheeky links to buy extras, and each time you win a game a Toy Story 3 picture is saved to your photo gallery. Nice.
Ok, this app is really hoping you’ll pay to download additional stories, but it’s still worth a look for the freebie. Wallace & Gromit: The W Files is a colourful 60-page comic, interspersed with fun character profiles.
Usually £1.79, but currently free for a limited period, Pocket Creatures is an ultra-cute virtual pet sim. The tutorial gently introduces the various gameplay elements, and before long you – sorry, your kid *ahem*– will be engrossed in managing their own virtual garden.
Touch Pets: Dogs is another app that unashamedly wants your money, but with seven breeds to choose from you can still have some fun with the free version. Feed, pet and clothe your dog, and take it online to meet your friends’ puppies. Bless.
One for little dudes, Crazy Snowboard Lite makes fun use of the iPhone’s accelerometer. Tilt your iPhone left and right to control your boarder, and the tap the screen to pull off sweet mid-air stunts. Awesome, dude!
Doodle Buddy is an easy-to-use paint program, with a variety of fun extras. There are stamps and backgrounds, and you can import/export photos from/to your iPhone’s photo album. Kids will have endless hours of fun drawing stink lines and comedy moustaches on your pictures.
Disney’s Craft Finder is ideal for creative types. From the main menu, simply choose an age category, the length of time you have, and the occasion (for example: pre-school, 30 minutes, Father’s Day). Craft Finder then displays a number of ideas, with full instructions and a list of necessary items.
As iTunes explains, “talk to Tom and he will repeat everything you say with a funny voice.” A simple idea, well executed, kids will have a riot hearing words like “poo” and “bum” played back in a high pitch. Of course, adults are too mature to play with Talking Tom Cat. Honest.
Slice it! Begins is the name for the free – or 'lite' – version of the game. In Slice It! the goal is to cut shapes into a specific number of pieces using a set number of slices. Bonus points are awarded for making each slice the same size. In the first level, for example, you have to cut a square into two pieces using just one line. Clearly you just slice it in half, any way you choose, but the difficulty soon increases. The free version of Slice It! has 15 levels.