16 (Virtual) Stocking Stuffer Apps For the Kids and Young At Heart

16 (Virtual) Stocking Stuffer Apps For the Kids and Young At Heart

Jason Rodway
Dec 18, 2012

Trying to decide what to gift tech-savvy friends and family on a budget during the holidays? Looking for something not too expensive, yet considerate at the same time. Since nearly everyone has a smartphone these says, we think apps can be a considerate stocking stuffer, spanning from simply entertaining to truly useful, specific to the user's needs and wants, sure to bring a smile to casual and hardcore smartphone users alike.


Weird But True: National Geographic
Learning engaging new things is fun to share with the family and encourages curiosity with in the younger generation. National Geographics Weird But True app is aimed for children but the content is great for anyone, especially as a conversation piece with family who will be conveniently gathered over the holidays. $2

Left: VinylLove Pocket - Right: Toca Hair Salon

VinylLove Pocket
Looking for a pocket sized LP player for the classic music fan? VinylLove rekindles the crackle and pop sound of the needle-based vinyl medium, complete with dragging the needle over the record to find a spot within the track. Personally I'm a huge fan of browsing through my music collection in crates like my Dads collection. $1

Toca Hair Salon
For the cosmetologist in training on your list, Toca Hair Salon encourage the creative nature of the career by styling cute characters hair. Cut, color and accessorize hairstyles and save creations to catalog in the photo library. $2

Game Your Video
The Holidays presents numerous photo and video opportunities so this video editing app will come in handy for those stitching together a complete anthology of the festivities. Record videos, add filters or motion effects, edit, join, add sounds and share over the internet for an all in one movie studio app that's big on fun and so quick to learn, it's like playing a video game. $2


The classic video game franchise has made a huge comeback on consoles with its unique graphical style that translates well onto the smartphone platform. Over the top slam dunks, intense fast paced action and fierce multiplayer are the name of the game of this 2 on 2 basketball game with fluid and playable touchscreen controls. $5 - Also available for iOS ($1)

Beat Hazard Ultra
Looking for a game that combines ones love of music and arcade shooters? Beat Hazard Ultra is your answer. It's a twin shooter game where the left stick controls movement and the right controls the direction of laser fire as your spaceship battles hoards of enemy crafts. What sets Beat Hazard apart is the games pace, your attack power and the length of the level is determined by songs picked from your music collection. $3 - Also available for iOS

SketchBook Mobile
Despite the (relatively) small size of the smartphone, pinching to zoom acts like a magnifying glass that's as intricate to detail as you want. That's what makes SketchBook Mobile a great recommendation for amateur artists or napkin doodlers on the go. The difference being is doodling on a napkin doesn't have multiple layers, colors, brushes and a deep undo/redo system. It might be wise also to consider giving a stylus while you're at it. $2 - Also available for iOS

Rayman Jungle Run
Ubisoft brings their mascot to the smartphone medium, delivering tried and true platforming gameplay to Android handsets. Rayman Jungle Run is beautiful to look at, easy to dive into and has reliable one touch control, making it short and sweet (perfect for a stocking stuffer app.) $3 - Also available for iOS

Windows Phone

Finger Drums Pro
Everyone dreams of being a rock star and giving a drum set app is easy on the wallet (and nearby ears) while still delivering big on fun. Finger Drums Pros sound quality takes full advantage of the Windows Phone and has a wide variety of drum types from bongos to steel drums. It even features an in-app media player to play alongside to your favorite tracks. $1

Panoramic shots are incredibly popular right now and can create the same wide angle effect found in DSLR lenses for much cheaper (as long as your hand is steady.) Giving the casual or budding photographer in training Pano is a fitting introduction to advanced photography. I've personally used it on my vacation where I created a fantastic Facebook cover photo of the New York skyline. $3 - Also available on iOS ($1) / Android ($3)

Left: Pano - Right: Moodagent

Another fun app for music addicts is Moodagent, a playlist generator that asks for your mood based on sensual, tenderness, happiness and anger and selects appropriate tracks to match. Profiles based on those characteristics can be used in reverse similar to genres where your music is placed into different categories. It's great for digging deeper into a bloated music library and rediscovering golden tracks for the right moment. Currently on sale for $1 - Also available for iOS / Android

Warning: This game is super addictive. You play as a skier that has to hit several targets on each level by manipulating his position to gain speed, do flips and perform awesome jumps. The controls in this game are incredibly fluid and have that old-school game feel which keeps me coming back for more. Thankfully there's a limited amount of levels so you won't get too sucked in (for now at least.) $1

Cross Platform

Uno, the classic, colorful card game has made a big comeback on gaming consoles and smartphones alike. Gameloft pumped some life into the old game with crisp graphics, online multiplayer and pick up and play accessibility. Best of all, it's a game we've all played before so there's a small learning curve. iOS ($1) - Android ($1) - Windows Phone ($5)

Isn't it amusing how cassette tapes are similar in size to the average smartphone? Umbrella Software must have made the connection and created a music player app that recreates the feel of having a walkman on your handset (no pencil required.) iOS ($1) - Android ($1) - Windows Phone ($1)

Plants vs. Zombies
Popcaps juggernaut tower defence game fits nice and neatly in pocket form with the small screen version. Your mission is to keep invading zombies from entering your house by setting plants in the garden to stand ground and fight for you. The zombies are sneaky however and will dig, fly and swim to get to your juicy brains so you have to plant smart in order to fight them off. iOS ($3) - Android ($3) - Windows Phone ($5)

Sonic CD
Arguably the best game in the Sonic franchise, this old Sega CD game translates well onto the small screen (or big should you play on a tablet.) It's a side scrolling platforming game with emphasis on speed as you spin jump and spin dash through various levels that are divided into past, present and future ambience. Fans of Sonic will immediately love it and for the unacquainted, it's a fantastic introduction. iOS ($5) - Android ($5) - Windows Phone ($5)

(Images: 1. Jason Rodway, all others: as credited above.)

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