Prepare to hand over your iPad - it's going to be an app-y Christmas

Manufacturers are targeting tech-savvy youngsters who play games on their parents' tablets, writes Lewis Smith

Toys that connect to iPads are being tipped as one of the "must have" gifts for children this Christmas as studies show rocketing numbers play games on their parents' tablets.

After a dramatic rise in sales of tablets for children last year, makers are intent on going a step further by offering toys that can be used with iPads.

The toys, such as a car or an action figure, are placed on the tablet's screen and interact with an app.

In Britain, more than 2.8 million people own an iPad, and many belong to parents who are willing to hand over their devices to their offspring.

Recent research in the UK and the United States found 39 per cent of adults who own an iPad have downloaded an app for children aged six to 11. Another study said parents download an average of 6.8 apps for children aged three to eight every three months.

Toys that connect to tablets are now tipped to be one of the top 10 Christmas toys this year. Among them are toymaker Mattel's Apptivities – which link up to iPads – but at least three other companies have their own versions.

Samantha Loveday, editor of Toy News, said: "Christmas is obviously the toy industry's most important part of the year. There are a lot of good toys coming out, but I think Apptivity toys have the potential to be up there. It's very 'of the moment'."

She said the toy industry had a long track record of recognising trends within the adult world and incorporating them into children's play: "They have been looking at the rise of digital and are very good at working that new kind of technology into their toys.

"We've started to see it come on over the last 12 to 18 months. It started with kids' tablets such as LeapPad by LeapFrog and Inno Tab from Vtech. They were a phenomenal success.

"The toy industry recognises that kids do play with their parents' technology, like iPhones and the iPad. The idea is the kids want to be like their parents. The Apptivity is part of that. It's another sector we've started to see grow over the last 12 to 18 months."

Andrea Abbis, toys and nursery trading manager for Argos, the UK's largest toy retailer, also expected them to be a success.

"Toys which incorporate technology have already proved very popular with our customers and we expect them to be a big hit for Christmas," she said.

Dr Amanda Gummer, a psychologist specialising in play and parenting, said: "Today's children are growing up with technology and expect it in many of their playthings. Combining a physical toy with the excitement of an app and the contemporary appeal of an iPad is a completely new way for kids to play."

Screen test proves a winner, if a little pricey

Lewis Smith gets the thumbs up as he road tests two 'apptivities' with his children

"I did it! I did it! I did it!"

This, from a four-year-old, combined with the discovery two hours later that he was still fascinated with the Hot Wheels Apptivity, suggests there is something in the toy that clicks with children.

Between them, my four and 14-year-old children, Tolly and Willow, spent more time playing with two Mattel Apptivities than I feel comfortable admitting on a day when the sun was blazing and they really ought to have still been outside.

Earlier, earning instant popularity, I had handed over a Hot Wheels and an Angry Birds Apptivity to Willow with instructions to make sure she knew how to work them before letting her little brother in on the treat.

Hot Wheels wasn't glitch free. It took a while to work out why certain things were happening on screen and what to do about them but once, as she put it, she'd "got to grips with the navigation" while holding the toy car to the screen, she sat back happily to concentrate on beating her best lap times and exploring other aspects of the game – including shooting up evil robotic cars.

The Hot Wheels car by itself delighted Tolly and the discovery that it connected to the iPad meant it was elevated to "most-prized toy" status and was taken with him everywhere he went for the rest of the day.

The "I did it!" moment confirmed that he, too, had mastered the controls and was succeeding in getting round the courses. The Hot Wheels Apptivity was a big hit.

By contrast the apptivity from Angry Birds, below, lacked the physical success of "driving" the car during races. The "King Pig" toy is used to touch the screen to alter the next challenge but that's it.

The additions to the original game are – to Angry Birds fans at least – entertaining and worthwhile but, my daughter observed, it's nothing the app couldn't achieve itself.

The makers of Angry Birds do, after all, create frequent extra levels for their games so the Apptivity toy seems superfluous, though my son insisted on having a go – "I wanna do it!" – and my daughter laid firm claim to the plastic King Pig.

Each of the Apptivities costs £11.99 (and there are larger £24.99 sets too).

It is supposed to be me who is appalled by prices in this day and age but for once it was my daughter who was shocked at the cost. It's within pocket money range but compared to the cost of apps themselves – usually less than £3 each – she thought it steep.

Her little brother, however, had no such complaints. He'd got a new car that could be played with on both the carpet and the iPad. And if Santa was to bring him one of the Batman Apptivities there would be no keeping the iPad away from him.

News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Sport
Christiano Ronaldo enjoys his opening goal
champions leagueLiverpool 0 Real Madrid 3: Ronaldo and Benzema run Reds ragged to avenge thrashing from their last visit to Anfield
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to American media group
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
art
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidate on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
News
Wilko Johnson is currently on his farewell tour
people
Voices
New look: Zellweger at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
voicesRenée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity, says Amanda Hess
News
Let’s pretend: KidZania in Tokyo
educationKidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day
Life and Style
CHARGE BOOSTER: Aeroplane mode doesn't sound very exciting, but it can be a (phone) hacker's friend. Turning on the option while charging your mobile will increase the speed at which your phone battery charges
techNew book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Solutions Architect - Permanent - London - £70k DOE

    £60000 - £70000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    Technical Business Analyst/SQL Development - London - Permanent - £50k DOE

    £40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    Telecoms Engineer - Telecoms Admin - £35,000 - 5 month FTC

    £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 5 month Fixed Term Contract - Telecommunicati...

    Telecoms Engineer - Telecoms Administrator - London - £26,000

    £26000 per annum + 25 days holiday & further benefits: Ashdown Group: Telecomm...

    Day In a Page

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
    Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

    'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

    The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
    Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

    Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

    A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
    The 10 best smartphone accessories

    Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

    Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

    Liverpool v Real Madrid

    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
    West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?