12 Ways to have an ‘appy’, digital Christmas

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Christmas already, you say? Surely there’s an app for that? Of course there is and this Christmas we bring you the tops apps for a fun festive season, for Apple, Android and BlackBerry.

Top iPhone and iPad apps for a happy Christmas

1. Christmas Tale HD
This free app for iPhones and iPads was voted the best multimedia book for Christmas last year. Part advent calendar, part greeting card builder, part Christmas gift list, part multimedia story, part educational game – children’s Christmas favourites have been pulled together into this app. The app has been updated this year to include jigsaw puzzles and picture painting, all with the capabilities to share with friends and family around the world. The developer, Tabtale Ltd, has converted a host of other children’s favourites into apps so seems to have a handle on what works well for kids.

2. Pocket Snow Storm! A Virtual Reality Blizzard! (White Christmas Edition!)
Defying climatic conditions for the bulk of the globe, free app Pocket Snow Storm creates an augmented reality virtual snow blizzard wherever you are. The user points their iPhone or iPad camera at their surroundings and sees snow falling around them, moving in 3D. The front camera can be used as well to make it look like the user is in the middle of the snowstorm. The Pro version can take pictures that you can then share. Unfortunately, it’s not compatible with my legacy iPad 1, so I won’t be having a white Christmas.

3. Appy Christmas
I had my doubts about online advent calendars. What’s the point if you don’t get the chocolate behind the window every day? Appy Christmas answers that cleverly by giving away paid apps for free every day. The free app also includes a talking, dancing Santa, countdown to Christmas and music.

Top Android apps for the festive season

1. Christmas HD
For just over R17 (US$2.00) you can get your own 3D live wallpaper that you can customise to your heart’s content with Christmas themed items: fairy lights, crackling fireplaces, Christmas trees, stockings and so on, as well as photos of you and your family and your own Christmas messages. The app counts down to the big day, and kids can leave cookies and a note for Santa. The developers promise that the animated wallpaper won’t guzzle battery life with its “silky-smooth” animations.

2. Christmas Tree Live Wall Paper
Android fans seem to love their Christmas themed wallpapers. This free app lets you decorate a virtual Christmas tree to create a live wallpaper. Options include snow, lights, sparkles and sound.

3. Christmas Countdown Free 2012
This ad-supported advent calendar tells the story of the elves’ adventure to wake the frost giant and save Christmas. The user has to help the elves achieve their quest by solving a puzzle everyday. It includes poems, graphics and special sound effects.

Top 3 BlackBerry apps for an excellent yuletide

1. Christmas Tunes
Spend US$0.99 on a selection of Christmas carols to sing along to/annoy your friends with – depending on your disposition. Cute graphics.

2. Christmas Songs
$1.99 gets you a selection of Christmas carols and poems.

3. Christmas Ringtones
Customise your phone for the festive season with Christmas-themed ringtones that will set you back $1.99.

And three bonus ways to have a digital Christmas

1. Skype
Use Skype to keep in touch with friends and loved ones around the world. Perhaps even use the video chat function to have Christmas dinner together.

2. Online gifting
Avoid the crowds and endless queues in the shopping malls and do all your gift shopping online. Even better – give friends and family virtual gift vouchers saving on wrapping paper that just gets dumped the next day.

3. Traditional Christmas viewing
Update all the traditional Christmas favourites: The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, A Christmas Carol to the latest versions and enjoy.

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