One of the challenges facing educational game developers is how to strike a balance between lessons and fun. Too much teaching, and the game ceases to keep a child’s attention; too little, and it becomes just another game. That’s one of the reasons Slice Fractions is so great: it has mastered teaching kids about fractional math without having overt lessons to do so. Slice Fractions tasks players with clearing a path for a woolly mammoth to get from one side of the screen to another.
It's often said that there's nothing more rewarding than being a parent. However, bringing a child into the world is a huge responsibility, and knowing you'll someday have to expose that child to the contents of that world can be a scary proposition. You'll want to use all the resources at your disposal to keep your kid safe. To help you make the most of your mobile devices on this mission, we've collected eight apps that let you keep tabs on your children, communicate with them, protect them from potentially dangerous situations, and more. You can give your kids access to technology and seem like the cool parent when secretly it helps you know they're safe.
LEGO The Lord of the Rings' transition to iOS is impeccably smooth, even if you'll miss out on some of the more exciting moments from the Mac version. Guiding Frodo Baggins and his crew of heroes on the path to Mordor works amazingly well on the smaller screen of an iPad or iPhone — and when the ring is finally cast into the fire, you'll still want to return to the fold to grab all of the elusive collectibles in Free Play mode.
If you search for endless runners on the App Store, you’ll find a slew of games in all sorts of settings, using a variety of people or animals as subjects. Buddy & Me is another one of those games, but rather than emphasize challenge and dynamic action, what sets it apart from the pack are its gorgeous art, less intense gameplay, and charming, light-hearted feel. You play as a boy who dreams about running through the forest with a large, flying dog-like creature helping him.
Riding the success of Disney Infinity's huge console launch last month, the Toy Box app for iPad allows players to build and test their creations from inside Infinity's creation mode, and then transfer it all back to your console. It benefits from the intuitive nature of touch controls and portability that the tablet allows, but struggles with keeping a constant frame rate even when dealing with a low number of items in your world. That takes some of the shine off of the experience, especially when transitioning from a glossy home console game.
It doesn't take an Apple Store Genius to figure out that kids love iOS devices (and the iPad in particular), which makes it a bit puzzling why it's taken Cupertino so long to create a section just for them.
Serious music-making and song-sequencing apps on iOS tend to fall along the more complicated end of the spectrum, requiring many hours of tweaking, fiddling, and experimenting before you can master them. It's rare to find a song-crafting app that aims squarely at the younger set and strives to inject a bit of lighthearted fun into the process. Luckily, StarComposer bridges that gap fairly well. It packs a simple, streamlined presentation and enough musical variety to keep its intended audience tinkering away with lots of silly songs, but a couple of head-scratching design decisions keep it from being truly great.
Sometimes licensed games leave you scratching your head in confusion at their bizarre muddling of a beloved pop culture franchise. Yu-Gi-Oh! BAM Pocket adapts a popular trading card game based on the Yu-Gi-Oh manga and anime series into an entirely different trading card game, just barely managing to string together something moderately enjoyable in the process. Battling wits with virtual and real opponents is both fun and challenging, but there’s not enough depth to keep you interested for long.
There are plenty of free iPad apps for entertaining toddlers, but few have much real educational value. This isn’t a problem for Learn with Homer, an app created by top literacy experts that overflows with well-crafted early learning content. Aimed at ages three to six, Learn with Homer makes reading fun and instructive. Upon launch, up to three different little ones can customize the app with a photo from the front-facing camera, which is then decorated with one of several virtual “thinking caps.” It’s a fun way to set the stage for what lies ahead.