iOS Accessories for kids
Anyone with an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch knows that kids love them just as much as adults—perhaps even more so. Between the touchscreen interface and the plethora of kid-focused apps, many of them educational, it's almost as if these devices were made for kids. But most of the accessories for iOS devices are aimed at older folks. From protection to volume control to drawing aids, kids have different needs. We hunted down a selection of add-ons specifically designed to help the youngest members of your family get the most out of your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, while keeping everyone safe from potential mishaps. You might even find something for your own inner child.
Griffin Technology iPad drawing accessories
Griffin Technology lets your kids take coloring to a new level with three accessories that transform your iPad into an interactive coloring experience. Both the $20 LightBoard for iPad (original iPad; top left) and the $40 Crayola Trace & Draw for iPad 2 (iPad 2; bottom left) are protective cases that turn your iPad into an art table. With either case, you slide a piece of paper into the case—the iPad's screen is protected by a plastic screen protector—and use the Crayola Trace & Draw iPad app to create all the art you want using real markers, crayons, and pencils. The $30 Crayola ColorStudio HD (iPad and iPad 2; right) is a kid-friendly touchscreen stylus that offers a truly unique—and purely digital—coloring experience. You use the iMarker digital stylus along with the Crayola ColorStudio HD iPad app to color, animate, and even add sound effects to artwork. Once created, parents can print art or share it through Facebook or Email.
Speakal iPhone and iPod docks
With names like iPig, iPig Cool, iPanda, iBoo II, and MiSoccer, it's easy to figure out why Speakal's cleverly designed iPhone and iPod docking stations will appeal to kids. But just because they're cute, round, and plastic doesn't mean they skimp on sound quality—we've been pleasantly surprised by the models we've tested. Some systems are designed for all-around sound, with four speakers and a woofer on the bottom; others offer a more-traditional left/right speaker setup. All docking models include a remote control. There's even an iHog Portable, which is larger and battery powered. The docks are available in a variety of colors and range in price from the $90 to $160.
Sesame Street Cases
Kids and adults alike will love these cases featuring their favorite Sesame Street friends. The iPad cases ($25) and portfolios ($40) are available in Elmo and Cookie Monster varieties for both the original iPad and the iPad 2. Elmo iPhone cases ($15) are available for the iPhone 3G and 3GS and the iPhone 4 and 4S. These just might be the only cases that your toddler will find more interesting than the devices inside them.
Griffin Technology KaZoo
Griffin Technology's $25 KaZoo for iPod touch offers a fun way for animal-loving kids to carry and protect a fourth-generation iPod touch. Each case is made of durable silicone and doesn't obscure the iPod's touchscreen, headphone jack, or dock-connector port. The cases are available in your kid's favorite animal, as long as that animal is an owl or a turtle.
Speck Products iGuy
Speck takes the kid-friendly iPad case to a new level with the iGuy for iPad 2 and iPad. The freestanding cases—based on Speck's original iGuy for the iPod, which debuted before iOS was even a thing—are made of a squishy, lightweight-but-protective, non-toxic foam with a design that will appeal to kids and adults alike. Available in green, blue, or orange, the iGuy isn't yet available online, but will soon debut at Brookstone retailers.
KEM Ventures Big Grips Frame and Stand
It's no secret that kids like to grab pretty much anything they can get their hands on, and that can be a problem when it comes to slippery iPads. KEM Ventures' Big Grips Frame offers soft, squishy, kid-friendly protection that lets you rest easy as your little ones grab away. The Big Grips Frame is durable enough to protect your iPad or iPad 2 from kid-induced bumps and drops, and soft and grippy enough for them to easily hang on. The Frame is available in blue, green, pink, or gray, either alone ($35) or bundled with a matching Big Grips Stand ($50). Models are available for the original iPad and the iPad 2.
HeadCase Etch A Sketch Cases
If you were a kid (or had kids) any time in the last 50 years, chances are you've played with an Etch A Sketch. The closest thing many of today's youngsters will get to using one is an iOS app, but you can help make that experience a tiny bit more authentic—and give your iOS device a fun and nostalgic look—with HeadCase's officially licensed Etch A Sketch cases for iPad and iPhone. You obviously can't draw with these cases, but you do get protection and some retro fun. HeadCase offers the case in versions for the original iPad and iPad 2 ($39); the iPhone 4 and 4S ($25); and the iPhone 3 and 3GS ($25).
Fisher Price Laugh and Learn Apptivity Case
Fisher Price offers three free iOS apps for babies, but the company also provides a way to baby-proof your iOS device. The $15 Laugh and Learn Apptivity Case is a protective case designed to look like your typical baby toy while letting your little one play with your iPhone or iPod touch worry-free. The brightly colored case includes two handles for easier gripping (and safe teething), a clear-plastic cover blocks the Home button, and a mirror on the back provides some good ol' analog fun. The Apptivity Case is compatible with the iPhone 3G, 3GS, 4 and 4S, as well as the second-, third-, and fourth-generation iPod touch.
Paperclip Robots BubCaps
Speaking of blocking the home button, one of the most frequent requests we've seen from parents is for a way to keep toddlers from pressing the Home button—either accidentally or on purpose. You can avoid accidental phone calls, and the frustration resulting from your baby accidentally exiting his or her favorite app, with Paperclip Robot's BubCaps. Each BubCap is a small piece of plastic that adheres to the front of your iOS device and covers the Home button. Rather than rendering the button unusable, BubCaps increase the amount of pressure required to press the button, so it will still be accessible by adults, but not by most children. The company says BubCaps are also easy for an adult to remove, but not a child. BubCaps are available in three different strengths: Regular (for toddlers using an iPhone and iPod touch), Ultra (for toddlers on an iPad and older kids on an iPhone and iPod touch), and Max (for older and stronger kids using an iPad). A four-pack of a single strength costs $5; the company also offers sampler packs for $5 and $7.
Griffin Technology Woogie 2
Part stuffed animal and part iPhone case, Griffin Technology's $20 Woogie 2 is perfect for the little one who can't survive without a stuffed thing in his or her hands at all times. It's also good for parents who use their iPhone as a media player for their kids: In addition to giving your phone lots or protection, the Woogie's fuzzy legs can act as a viewing stand. Compatible with the iPhone and iPod Touch, the Woogie 2 is available in pink/pink and blue/green versions, leaves the iOS device's headphone jack accessible, and lets you use the device's touchscreen through the case's clear-plastic window.
For both kids and adults, long road trips are a lot more fun with an iPad. For those times your kids (or you) want to sit back and watch a video, you can use a headrest mount for hours of hands-free entertainment that's literally at your kids' fingertips. Griffin Technology's $40 CinemaSeat 2 (bottom) comes with an adjustable strap that attaches easily to your seat. If you've already got ModulR's iPad Case + Cover, the company offers a $20 Car Headrest Strap (top right). If you want a mount that's a little more substantial, Vogel's $100 RingO Car Mount (top left) latches onto your car seat's headrest stems for a secure fit. (All three products are available for both the original iPad and the iPad 2.) We can't promise you'll never have to endure another chorus of 99 Bottles of Beer, but we can hope.
Etymotic Ety Kids Safe-Listening Earphones
If your kids like using headphones with your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, you can protect their hearing with Etymotic's Ety Kids Safe-Listening Earphones. These in-ear-canal headphones are specifically designed to protect your child's hearing. First, they block a significant amount of external noise, so your young one isn't tempted to crank up the volume; second, they're engineered such that the maximum volume they can produce is still at a safe level for extended listening. The headphones will be available next month in two models: The $49 Ety Kids 3, which is a standard set of headphones, and the $79 Ety Kids 5, which features an Apple-style, three-button inline remote/microphone module.
Griffin Technology MyPhones
Like the Ety Kids, Griffin's $30 MyPhones headphones are specifically designed for children. Using a kid-sized version of a full-size headphone design, the MyPhones partially cover your child's ears to block external sound, and they can't produce audio louder than 85 decibels. The company also made MyPhones fun, with customizable earpieces, and practical, thanks to washable earpads. Sadly, Griffin has discontinued the MyPhones, although you can still find them online.