Wow! They don’t miss a chance to drop prices in the App Store do they? You would think Valentine’s day was the foremost holiday on every thirteen-year-old somewhat-acned gamers and gamerettes agenda. Well even if having your Angry Birds covered in pink hearts isn’t your thing, maybe geeks ought to celebrate this year, because any chance to get great deals on apps is a treat.
And I have a great new Edu-App No-Bainer for you at the very end so keep reading!
I regret that posting on the fly doesn’t allow for many hyperlinks or pics. If I find the time I might make this prettier later, but I didn’t want my readers to be the last to know about the beginning of the Valentine’s Bonanza. There are tons of updates and sales out there. Watch the app store until the 14th and then suffer with me from update-withdrawal on the 15th!
Here are a few of the Games and Apps I found that have been reduced, updated or gone free in the last 24 hours.
For the parent who has to much to do, or the student who has to track a heavy workload and tons of activities, App Store to-da app staple, Toodeloo To Do List is on sale. Reg 2.99 now .99.
Tweet a lot? You can now check out the universal Twitter Client, EchoPhone for Twitter on sale from 4.99 down to 1.99. If you do, then please post a comment letting me know what you think.
Another productivity app I could never blog without, and is a must-have tool for anyone who has to write, be it a for big project for middle school, a paper in college, a big presentation on the job, or to organize your novel, Index Card for iPad is a fanastic tool for getting your thoughts together and simplifying the writing and editing process.
This app has just the right mix of simplicty to let you think with robust mind-mapping/note-takinng capabilities. Now with many stacking options (yay finallly! – it’s now a 5 star app!) automatic backups, sharing options and more it has been well worth the investment since I use it daily and never run out of new ways to benefit organizationally.
It’s a tad pricey at 4.99, but compared with the less-appealing icardsort which only allows you a very limited number of index cards before asking, get this, $20 for unlimited cards, in-app, it’s a bargain.
For the artist and the budding artist I have one great and one new-to-me app to mention. Inspire Pro is one of the most feature-rich and well regarded Art Creation/Painting Apps for iPad digital artists and painterly types. It is full-featured, updated often and I have used it enough to say it is very solid. And it’s a huge savings: Reg $7.99 now only .99.
For kids who love to draw you can’t lose more than a bit of bandwidth by giving Just Paint for iPad a try. It’s completely free today, normally $4.99.
If you sought me out, you probably know by now that EA Games, gaming powerhouse. is having a huge sale today on some of their most popular games including some amazing choices for kids. The Game of Life (the board game we all know) is wonderful on both the iPhone and iPad. The spinner feeels real, the gameplay is pretty much identical to the real one, but faster and animated (minimally.)
You don’t learn how to count, as with real board games, but it’s always been a great standby and it’s wonderful for iOS in terms of design and functionality. Pump had it figured out at 6 in under 5 minutes. I give it 4.5 Stars and it’s on sale – was 6.99 now to 2.99.
Also from EA check out Pictureka! Again it’s a board-game-gone-app, and fun, one of those ‘find the object games.’ aimed at children an adults alike. Pump and I prefer Little Things, by Kilktock, but he does play this periodically and if you were already considering it, the sale won’t last too long. Both games require some reading (basic) or adult participation.
It’s not for young children, but your pg-13+ crowd might like EA‘s racing game Reckless Racing. I have so many great racing games and doubt anything could surpass Firemint’s Real Racing HD for a real driving-like experience, but if you love the genre this is a big title. It is also on sale with a selected few more titles. Be sure you know which games are on sale before you get excited by the hype and inadvertently purchse something for 9.99 or even 14.99.
For older students and anyone who wants to sharpen their minds, BrainMatch for iPad, is another one of those brain-training games, a very well-polished one, and is free, regularly 4.99. The scholars are undedecided but leaning no-ward, (I invent words, what of it?) when it come to seeing any measurable intellectual gains from these apps, but they are a much more engaging way to spend 15 minutes than flicking pretend paper into a trashcan or refreshing your Facebook page. Again.
Back to out younger friends you can pick up Tic Tac Toe by for iPad by Ludei and from same 4 in a Row both for free. The ratings for the former are middling, the latter quite good and again, they are free. I haven’t given them a whirl, and if they are in any way unsual I will let you know but I have a feeling it’s actually diificult to screw up a tic-tac-toe app. I hope so anyway. 4 in a row, is, of course, a clone of Connect Four, also available and one of Pump’s all-time favorite games, but it’s not free. Did I mention the others were free? 😉
While Finger Drums is free, and might even be good, (or not) they actualy tout themselves as being loud. That might be a good marketing ploy for budding metal-heads, but not so much for this GeekMom. I have a 7 year old son; he needs no help being loud, he mastered that all by himself before he learned to turn over!
Speaking of MUST NOT HAVES, you really ought to dissuade your child from playing the Smurfs app. I won’t pontificate, I strongly suggest you read this article from the Washington Post and inform yourself.
The game is basically a lot like the Facebook games by Zynga, like FarmVille (also on iOS) and CityVille, but specifically marketed at children ages 4 and up?!?
It’s cute, polished and a racket. Your preschoolers are unequivocally too young to discern the difference between a free ‘coin’ reward like many edu-apps and quality games award for free for positive reinforcement and/or to acknowledge passing a milestone, and the ‘Smurfberries’ you need to level up (build a bigger better virtual Smurf village) in this game. But Smurfberries cost real money. Yours. And it doesn’t take long to rack up very big bills charged to your credit card or whatever payment method you use.
Unlike others of these type of time and resource management games like Zynga’s Frontierville, you do not have to leave the game and make a somewhat complicated payment transaction complete with some kind of verification or password in order to purchase the virtual currency redeemable for non-refundable, non-transferrable pixels.
In Smurfs, one misguided tap too many from a youngster and you are the proud owner of nothing. There are many great apps that don’t pander to the lowest common denominator or seek to make credit-victims of your children who are barely out of diapers (That’s what Frosh Week at college is for.) I urge you, do not even download it to try (it helps them maintain visibility: any press is good press after all and it’s getting a lot of press.)
But if you have a Smurfaholic be sure he or she is either using their own allowance account, a very good way to teach your older children to budget themselves and to find out how easy it is to waste money (who me?) in the App Store without thinking or be sure you have disbaled in-app purchases in your settings.
Speaking of which, I saw a push-game, called Coin Dozer (universal like Smurfs and seemingly free of course) You know the kind that simulates casino machines (real coins) or arcade games (tokens) where coins are on movings metal slats and you drop your coins in in the hopes you push out more of the tender dangling tantalizingly close to the edge, than you put in? Well it does have some merit as a physics game and frankly as a life-lesson, but steer clear of this version.
I got the app mostly to demonstrate to Pump that while yes, it was exciting to win a bunch of coins at once or a pink shiny thing he has no use for, but by carefully tracking how many coins he had spent, and even assuming they rig it to be easy at first (I have no idea, just if) he could still see that at best this was a zero-sum game and at worst a losing proposition that in real life could cost a lot if real money.
And just as I made that point, up popped a message letting us know that after about 2 minutes of play we had exhausted our coin supply and should buy more. I had to lift Pump’s hand off the iPad in a hurry because even I wasn’t sure at first glance if this was a free or paid option or what I had to download or buy. As an adult I took a second glance, but I’m not giong to count on any first grader to do so much less figure out the scam, are you?
I haven’t explored any of these yet, but you have to be better off trying Lingo, iClay for the creative iPhone/iPod Touch kid (how is it?) or Wild Caves if you have a cave-girl or boy. I can’t say a word about them, but I didn’t see any in-app anything, so even if they are misses, they are not costly ones. In fact the are FREE.
Now if you want to spend 1.99 wisely then don’t wait for a sale, just go and grab my Edu-App No-Brainer for the day. The relatively new, and already hugely successfull and aclaimed Last Temple from Gamelab exceeds the hype. (I know, right?) I thought at first it was going to yet another variation of a match-three puzzler and while I like those a lot, I am about all matched out. I have completed 3 versions of Popcap’s Bejewled alone, not to mention the scores of look-alikes. But it’s not like Bejewled or any other puzzler I’ve seen.
You have to think quickly, connect similar shapes from the grid by finger-tracing and clear enough of them so all the tiles turn blue before time runs out. Sounds simple. Absolutely, that’s why it’s brlliant. I was so engaged by the Lite version I played it to completetion (and it’s a very generous trial version as far as that goes too, so you can take your time deciding.) I don’t think you will need much time though. This game is addictive, innovative, and suitable for every age level as it requires no reading, just the ability to trace a finger along a path of connected, say, flowers.
It encourages shape and pattern recognition, fine motor skills and visual processing, logic, and math.
Before you relegate it to the kid’s folder tho, try it for yourself. I have a feeling I’ll be playing untl dawn. I have to agree with almost every user in the App Store and give this a resounding 5 stars.
Ok that’s what I’ve got fot you from the road. Be sure to check my last post, from just this morning, to find out about great Valentine’s Themes and other apps being updated for your Jailbroken iPhone in the Cydia Store. Find out how Google’s doodle-of-the-day is interactive and has special iOS-only features. And get the Skinny on Valentine’s Day Updates. That post has many pretty pictures and lots of lots of links including one to my Contest Page where you kids (and you) can enter creative child-centered contests to win great apps, and tons of free stuff like limited edition, artist-signed posters, t-shirts and more.
See you very soon, Happy App Stalking.
The Stay at Home GeekMom.