Car journeys can be long and tedious, especially for the child sat with a very short attention span sitting, in the back seat. Luckily there are loads of iPhone and Android apps to help your little ones pass the time, if you’re willing (or brave enough) to give them your iPad or smartphone.
Parent be advised it might be worth turning off important applications your phone so your children can’t accidentally send 10 blank emails to your boss or browse the internet. Check out our iPhone 4 tips and tricks for advice on how to do this.
With it’s bigger screen the iPad is probably the most natural device to use, although of course most apps are also available for the iPhone and Android too.
The majority child-friendly apps have sound effects, so if you are letting your child use a smartphone or tablet, headphones are a wise investment. The JVC Tiny Phones (£18 from Amazon) are equipped with a sound limiter, while the MiniMice Childrens headphones (£10 from HIFI headphones) have noise-reducing ear cups.
Here’s our top 10 iPhone, iPad and Android apps for keeping your kids entertained in the car.
1: Talking Tom Cat
iPad, iPhone, Android
Tom is a virtual pet cat, stroke him and he purr or pour him a glass of milk and he’ll drink it. But he can be unhappy too; poke his feet and pull his tail and he’ll yowl. Tom will also repeat everything you – or your child says – in a squeaky voice, leaving little ones in hysterics.
While it’s probably of limited educational value, Talking Tom Cat is simple enough for kids to enjoy and ultimately great fun.
2: Tozzle – Toddler’s favourite puzzle
From aeroplanes, toys, train, boat, duck and car, there are 39 colourful puzzles to choose from, many animated. Your child completes each one by dragging pieces to match a silhouette, gradually building up the picture.
Not only does Tozzle improve shape recognition and motor activity, but sound effects also enable you child to learn the names and recognise the sounds of objects, while trickier puzzles introduce letters and shape names.
3: Itsy Bitsy Spider
iPhone, iPad, £1.49
With interactive versions of popular nursery rhymes, app developer Duck Duck Moose has created some of the best kids apps on the market.
Based around the classic nursery rhyme, which plays in the background, each element of the gorgeous scene is animated. Poke the spider and he jumps, tap the sun and it beams, while every time your press the fly it provides educational information.
This bright, colourful and engaging app has so many components, it will keep your child entertained for ages.
4: Winnie the Pooh Puzzle Book
iPhone, iPad, Android, 69p/£1.84
As well as telling a charming Winnie the Pooh story, this digital book includes simple puzzles like collecting honey pots and jigsaws to keep your child entertained.
Controls are simple to use – especially on the iPad. There’s a Read to Me version for younger children, while older children can record themselves reading the story.
Unsurprisingly as a Disney product illustrations and sound effects are gorgeous, without ever venturing into twee territory, although it’s a little short and lacks the longevity of others.
5: Create a Car
iPhone, iPad, 69p
We’re not being sexist when we say this app is perfect for car or digger crazy little boys.
Your child starts by choosing from 30 vehicles including a digger, bus or fire engine, then in a mini ’pimp my ride’ he/she can soup it up by dragging parts onto the chassis. Alongside the typical exhausts, tyres, engines etc, are some amazing features like an anti-gravity thruster. Car creations are stored in a virtual garage where older children can learn about vehicle parts.
Create a Car is really simple to use and encourages creativity – perhaps spawning the next generation of car designers.
6: Dr Seuss ABC
iPhone, iPad, Android £2.49/£2.45
Teach your child the alphabet, using words, letters and pictures, based on the classic Dr Seuss ABC book. It’s a fantastic tool for teaching children to read – each word is displayed in pink when it is read out and you can tap words and letters to hear them pronounced individually.
Using the original Dr Seuss illustrations, it looks amazing and with AutoPlay, narrated or Read it Myself versions for toddlers and pre-schoolers, this is an app that your child will continue to use as he/she gets older.
7: abc PocketPhonics
iPhone, iPad, £1.99
This app teaches children to read and write using phonics (sounds) of the letters in the alphabet. Split into letter sounds, first the sound is read out by the narrator (a teacher in reality), encouraging the child to repeat it, before they can draw each letter using their finger to follow arrows.
Certainly more educational than frivolous fun, abc PocketPhonics is particularly useful for pre-schoolers learning to read. Young children will need an adults guidance, although more independent older children may be happy playing it on their own.
iPhone, iPad, Android, 69p, 68p
One for big kids as well as small, this game is as simple as flicking the ball into the back of the net from different positions; the type of flick you use determines whether you curve or lob the ball.
A selection of different modes means it never gets boring and you can even play online – if you’ve got WiFi. It’s perhaps a little complex for the very young, but certainly older children will be able to play it without difficulty – maybe even competing with Dad or Mum.
9: Crayola ColourStudio HD
iPad, Free, iMarker ($29)
Crayola ColourStudio HD is a virtual colouring book, where your child can colour in 30 scenes or create their own, using the Griffin iMarker.
The app looks amazing and the animated scenes are charming, but the pen is the main problem, it’s a little laggy and you have to press hard, which can be problematic for little fingers.
A great idea and older children used to writing will like it, but ultimately it’s a little expensive.
10: FishSchool HD
The premise is simple, a selection of bright and colourful fish swim across the screen, forming patterns either as letters, numbers, shapes and colours, which are read out by the narrator.
Like other Duck Duck Mouse apps, the attention to detail is phenomenal, tap the starfish and it releases bubbles and press the tiny eggs and fish hatch.
Striking the perfect balance between education and play FishSchool HD is a a great app for pre-schoolers.
- abc PocketPhonics – iPad
- abc PocketPhonics – iPhone
- ColourStudio HD
- Create a Car – iPad
- Create a Car – iPhone
- Dr Seuss ABC – Android
- Dr Seuss ABC – iPad
- Dr Seuss ABC – iPhone
- Fishschool HD
- Flick Kick Football
- Flick Kick Football
- FlickKick Football – iPad
- Itsy Bitsy Spider
- Itsy Bitsy Spider HD – iPad
- Talking Tom Cat – Android
- Talking Tom Cat – iPad
- Talking Tom Cat -iPhone
- Tozzle – Toddler’s favourite puzzle
- Winnie the Pooh Puzzle Book – Android
- Winnie the Pooh Puzzle Book – iPad
- Winnie the Pooh Puzzle Book – iPhone