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.

Arts & Entertainment
Ricky Gervais at a screening of 'Muppets Most Wanted' in London last month
tvAs the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian on why he'll never bow to critics who habitually circle his work
Arts & Entertainment
Don (John Hamm) and Megan (Jessica Paré) Draper are going their separate ways in the final series of ‘Mad Men’
tvReview: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
News
news
Life & Style
Going down: Google's ambition to build an elevator into space isn't likely to be fulfilled any time soon
techTechnology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
VIDEO
News
David Cameron sings a hymn during the enthronement service of The Most Rev Justin Welby as Archbishop of Canterbury, at Canterbury Cathedral last year
news
Life & Style
From long to Jong: Guy Pewsey outside Mo Nabbach’s M&M Hair Academy in west London before the haircut
fashionThe Independent heads to an Ealing hairdressers to try out the North Korean dictator's trademark do
Sport
Vito Mannone fails to keep out Samir Nasri's late strike
sportMan City 2 Sunderland 2: Keeper flaps at Nasri's late leveller, but Black Cat striker's two goals in 10 minutes had already done damage
Extras
indybest10 best smartphones
News
peopleRyan Gosling says yes, science says no. Take the A-list facial hair challenge
Arts & Entertainment
tvCreator Vince Gilligan sheds light on alternate endings
News
Paul Weller, aka the Modfather, performing at last year’s Isle of Wight Festival in Newport
people
Arts & Entertainment
Play It Forward: the DC Record Fair in Washington, US
musicIndependent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads on Record Store Day
Sport
video
News
Supermarkets are running out of Easter Eggs
Deals make eggs cheaper than normal chocolate
Life & Style
Wasp factory: 1.3 million examples of the Vespa scooter have been sold in the last decade
motoringIconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Resourcer

    £18000 - £22000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Resourcer Reports...

    B2B Bids and Tenders Pricing Specialist

    £35000 - £45000 per annum + excellent company benefits : Pro-Recruitment Group...

    Projects Financial Analyst - Global Technology firm

    £55000 - £62000 per annum + outstanding benefits and bonus: Pro-Recruitment Gr...

    SharePoint Administrator/Developer (C#, VB.NET, VISUAL STUDIO 2

    £35000 - £50000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: SharePoi...

    Day In a Page

    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

    As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
    Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

    Mad Men returns for a final fling

    The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

    Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
    Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

    Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

    Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
    Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

    Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

    The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers
    A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part

    A History of the First World War in 100 moments

    A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part
    Vespa rides on with launch of Primavera: Iconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales

    Vespa rides on with launch of the Primavera

    The Vespa has been a style icon since the 1950s and the release this month of its latest model confirms it has lost little of its lustre
    Record Store Day: Independent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads

    Record Store Day celebrates independent music shops

    This Saturday sees a host of events around the country to champion the sellers of well-grooved wax
    10 best smartphones

    10 best smartphones

    With a number of new smartphones on the market, we round up the best around, including some more established models
    Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

    Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

    The former Australia coach on why England must keep to Plan A, about his shock at their collapse Down Under, why he sent players home from India and the agonies of losing his job
    Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

    Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

    Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
    The pain of IVF

    The pain of IVF

    As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal
    Supersize art

    Is big better? Britain's latest super-sized art

    The Kelpies are the latest addition to a growing army of giant sculptures. But naysayers are asking what a pair of gigantic horse heads tells us about Falkirk?
    James Dean: Back on the big screen

    James Dean: Back on the big screen

    As 'Rebel without a Cause' is re-released, Geoffrey Macnab reveals how its star perfected his moody act