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
peopleJonathan Ross has got a left-field suggestion to replace Clarkson
News
Johnny Depp is perhaps best known for his role as Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean
peopleBut how did he break it?
News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
Arts and Entertainment
The teaser trailer has provoked more questions than answers
filmBut what is Bond's 'secret' that Moneypenny is talking about?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Sport
footballDoes Hodgson's England team have an identity yet?
Sport
Lewis Hamilton secured his second straight pole of the season
f1Vettel beats Rosberg into third after thunderstorm delays qualifying
Travel
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
News
news
News
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
media
News
Threlfall says: 'I am a guardian of the reality keys. I think I drive directors nuts'
people
Voices
voices The group has just unveiled a billion dollar plan to help nurse the British countryside back to health
News
The Westgate, a gay pub in the centre of Gloucester which played host to drag queens, has closed
news
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

    Recruitment Genius: IT Infrastructure Engineer

    £30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is looking to find a...

    Recruitment Genius: IT Engineer

    £21000 - £23600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

    Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - Liverpool - up to £28,000

    £22000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: This is a large multi-site operation...

    Recruitment Genius: Salesforce Developer

    £50000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to continued business growt...

    Day In a Page

    The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

    The saffron censorship that governs India

    Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
    Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

    How did fandom get so dark?

    Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
    The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
    The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

    Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

    Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
    Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

    Disney's mega money-making formula

    'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
    Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

    Lobster has gone mainstream

    Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
    Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

    14 best Easter decorations

    Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
    Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

    Paul Scholes column

    Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
    Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

    The future of GM

    The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
    Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

    Britain's mild winters could be numbered

    Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
    Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

    The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

    The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
    Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

    Cowslips vs honeysuckle

    It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
    Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss