Why we like it: Letters are turned into beautifully illustrated animals in this simple alphabet book app. It’s an ideal way to let children playfully discover excellent illustrations. You can also make your own name card out of the animals and save it to your photo library. Check out a demo here.
Need to know: The interactivity is good but subtle, and the alphabet apps are a dime-a-dozen these days. Get this one for its artistic merits.
Ease of use: 9/10 Educational: 9/10 Entertaining: 8/10
Why we like it: It’s great fun to superimpose an animal mask over your face using face-recognition technology that somehow locates your eyes, nose and mouth, and places things like a funny nose in the exact location. See also Mask Jumble Halloween.
Need to know: This can be a quirky app.To work the camera, you must be able to see your whole face clearly, so the lighting should not be too bright or too dark. This app could be buggy on an iPad 3.
Ease of use: 9/10 Educational: 9/10 Entertaining: 9/10
Why we like it: Ten mini games are easy to learn and full of responsive play opportunities that encourage discovery of the key concepts. Rather than being told what a triangle is, you get to sketch one. Check out a demo here.
Need to know: Be careful — there are direct links to additional apps in the main menu. We didn’t care for the sugary-sweet narrator.
Ease of use: 9/10 Educational: 10/10 Entertaining: 9/10
Why we like it: This sequel to the first Trucks by developer Duck Duck Moose offers four fun and playful vehicle-themed activities. Our testers especially liked putting out the fires, playing tic-tac-toe against the firehouse dog and racing the drag racers. Check out a demo here.
Need to know: Girls, don’t be put off by the truck theme. The play patterns driving this app will appeal to both genders and all ages. Some of the activities are tricky at first, so be on hand the first time through.
Ease of use: 8/10 Educational: 8/10 Entertaining: 9/10
Why we like it: In an artistic mood? Over 100 visual elements from painters Van Gogh, Cézanne, Monet, Rousseau and Klee have been isolated and placed on a digital palette, for your free experimentation. You can either freely drag and drop them onto a canvas, or compose your own. When you are finished, you can save your artwork in “My Museum.” Check out a demo here.
Need to know: The menu is unconventional and hard to learn; especially on the small iPad mini, and the sound effects seem random but can be muted.
Ease of use: 8/10 Educational: 9/10 Entertaining: 8/10