5 Windows Phone apps for the whole family
The best thing about modern smartphones is the immersive experience full-screen apps provide. No chrome, no borders, just the full app drawing you in.
This also turns out to be perfect for families with children, as the general user-friendliness of touch screen apps are easy to pick-up, and provide a great interactive learning experience. Kids also absorb stuff faster and better when they get to play around with the apps themselves, as exploring and experimenting is a big part of learning.
Here are five of my top family apps picks, all tested and good to go on Nokia’s Lumia 800.
Pocoyo is a children’s animation about a little boy named Pocoyo, a yellow duck called Pato, a pink elephant by the name of Elly, Pocoyo’s pet puppy named Loula, and a teal-coloured sleepy bird called, uh, Sleepy Bird.
The show is set on a completely white background, as if it was a blank canvas inviting children to imagine their own sets. The characters also frequently ask the viewers to help out by pointing out situations and objects in the show.
PocoyoTV is a colourful and well-designed app which lets you stream full Pocoyo episodes over 3G and WiFi, but limits you to only the first season. There’s an option to download your favourite episodes to view offline, though that doesn’t really work all the time.
This adorable animation will surely find a place for both the young and the young at heart. Be sure to check out accompanying app Pocoyize to create your own Pocoyo-style avatar!
Like virtually all Xbox Live games on the platform, Kinectimals for Windows Phone is quite an expensive app. But the app is also pretty fun, and all kids love to play with furry animals, real or virtual. You pick a cub, look after it, play with it, teach it tricks, and bring it out for adventures.
If you own the game on the Xbox console, it gets better. The app acts as a companion games and lets you unlock five new cubs on your console. Plus, you can transfer your cub to and from your Xbox and continue playing whether you’re on the move or at home.
And transferring is so easy even a child could do it. The app generates a QR code which you hold up to your screen. If that fails, you can go the old-fashioned way and enter a uniquely generated code to transfer your cub.
The graphics are fantastic, the integration is impressive and the game provides hours of fun for the whole family.
Story Time for Kids (free, with in-app purchases)
A parent reading to his/her children is a popular and educational activity which also helps parent-child bonding, and smart phone apps can only make it better.
Story Time for Kids comes with free stories (some pre-loaded, some downloadable) so that you can immediately start reading stories to a kid. These include familiar titles like The Tin Soldier and Little Red Riding Hood.
Beautifully drawn graphics follow every paragraph to help children visualise the story being told, and the accompanying words help them learn to read.
Should you have no time to read out aloud, the app can also narrate in your place. However, the pace is excruciatingly slow, and perhaps suitable only for small children still learning to read. Any kid who can read on his/her own will likely flip the pages impatiently.
Draw free! (free, ad supported)
Draw free! has a reason to sound so exuberant: the app is a full-featured doodling app which has a tonne of features to satisfy both children and adults, and can provide hours of fun especially on a large screen device like the HTC Titan or Titan II.
You start off on a black canvas and, in my opinion, a horrendous rainbow-coloured ink. But the colours of both the canvas and the paint brush can be changed, of course. The paint brush even has funky shapes like a heart, so that tiny hearts trail across the screen as you slide your finger.
What makes this app really great for kids are the many built-in picture outlines. We’ve all played with colouring books before, and it’s the same thing here. Pick a template and let the kids have a field day choosing and colouring their favourite colours into butterflies, pumpkins and flowers.
On the downside, navigation can be a bit confusing, although the developer did pre-empt that by giving adult users the option of locking down the menu so that there are less items for children to contend with.
Simon Cow (free)
Simon Cow is a memory game with an animal theme, and it’s one of those apps which are easy to pick up, but frustratingly hard to master, in this case unless you have an exceptional memory.
Here’s how it works: a bunch of animals are laid out in a wheel, and they take turn making their respective sounds. A frog will croak and a cow will moo, for instance. The player then tap the animals in the order of the sounds. So if the animals go, “moo, moo, croak, baa”, you tap cow-cow-frog-sheep in that order.
It’s a bit like “Simple Simon Says”, and the player simply repeat what’s on the screen. Nothing to it, right?
But it gets really hard when the 6th or 7th repetition comes around. Kids might want to stick with just three animals, and the really adventurous can go for up to 8 animals.
Just don’t blame us if you can’t get to sleep because of all those animal noises in your head.
Article from www.e27.sg. Written by Raymond Lau.