Favourite iPhone Apps

Got an iPhone? Here are my picks of the best apps for kids — though many of them are adult-friendly too.

Autodesk Sketchbook Mobile is the best painting app out there. Brushes and Sketches are OK, but not as smooth. Sketches lets you add speech bubbles and other shapes, though.

OldBooth Premium lets you put a person in an old-timey photo. Smooths edges really well, too.

Quad Camera is a really fun photography app that takes many shots one after the other and arranges in a grid (usually 2×2) with or without effects.

Pianist is a great piano. Guitarist is a great guitar with many modes. Band has a selection of instruments at lower quality.

Ocarina is like a recorder — you actually blow into the mic and play it on the touch screen. Zephyr is a fun “painting with snowflakes and music” app which lets you share your paintings with the world.

Preschool Adventure is the best all-purpose small child entertainer. Dex ABC Animals is flashcards with cute pics — but ZEE for zebra and I for Inchworm and N for Nightowl always bug me. Peekaboo Farm is very simple but could be fun. iNeko is a cute, free cat that chases your finger.

Spider is a good game for young and old. Cro-Mag Rally or Super Monkey Ball might be appropriate for the slightly older.

Hazelwatch! At just shy of 2 and a half, she has just read an entire book (memorised!) back to mum. It’s “Fred Stays with Me!” with lines like “When my mum and I have pizza, or when my dad and I eat peanut butter sandwiches, Fred waits for crumbs”.

On Cities

What is the point of a city?

For me, it is the power to get enough people of a similar mind together to make something happen. Enough people to populate a niche, to fuel a critical mass.

In Christchurch, New Zealand, that manifests in the joy of hand-pulled English-style ale from Twisted Hop, the specialist Whisky Galore selling rare bottlings, advice and tastings, and the superb video rental place Alice — let alone all the great quirky bars and cafes around High St.

It’s a damning indictment that Brisbane can’t come up with anything to match any of these, despite far more people and much more money flowing. All we have is more malls and shopping centres with more of the same chains. Thank Christchurch (sorry) for a reminder of how it can be done.