Spoiler alert! Do you really need a spoiler after that headline? But I am approaching this app as a cynical adult and not as a kid. 123 Glow is a probably a great way to keep your kid occupied with your iPad when you’re not using it. But who am I kidding? When are you going to surrender your iPad to your six-year-old? I won’t even share mine with Carol. And, trust me, the feeling is mutual.
There’s a limit to love.
Who would have thought that iPad developers would release a list of Halloween games as long as my arm? I get Christmas. Christmas is a time of comfort and joy and the opportunity for developers to cash in on people so used to spending money and deepening their credit card debt that they’ll type in their Apple ID for just about anything under ten dollars.
Hey, it’s Christmas, right?
When I was a kid we would count the days down until Christmas and drive my parents crazy by pestering them to at least let us open one present before Christmas.1 But Halloween? All we did before Halloween was beg for the money to buy a costume so we didn’t have to use the ghost costumes we made from our baby sheets eight years before.
Then the urban legends started about razor blades in Halloween candy and that ruined Halloween for everybody. Baptists, at least the commie-fearing bedrock and southern Baptists like my family, were always suspicious of Halloween anyway. It was one thing to let kids celebrate egg-laying bunnies and fat guys with white beards. After all, those holidays were about Jesus. But a holiday celebrating witches?
Our church started carnivals for Halloween and those grew into the anti-gay, anti-drug, anti-abortion modern-day haunted houses for Jesus that scare the crap out of unsuspecting kids far worse than ghosts, goblins, or rumors about razors in candy.
But I thought it would be fun to spend the two weeks leading up to Halloween reviewing Halloween apps. And today’s app is 123 Glow, which, as best I can tell, was developed by the parents of four year olds looking for a way to distract their kids who won’t stop begging them to break into the Halloween candy a week early.
When I say 123 Glow is a kid’s app, I mean really little kids. Basically its a digital coloring book for kids. Now on the surface this seems cool. I loved coloring books when I was a kid. But this is a coloring book for kids who couldn’t stay within the lines if they were coloring a square the size of a football field.
123 Glow provides a series of images, some of them Halloween related, others fall related and the rest that have nothing to do with Halloween whatsoever. I find this odd, since it’s billed as a Halloween app. Even the icon has bats and haunted houses.
Kids can choose a number of Halloween related pictures.
The app has 26 pre-selected colors and gradient fills. Each image has a number where that color should be applied. You touch the space with that color and the color fills itself in. When you successfully apply all the colors, the numbers disappear and the music starts to play.
And just in case you don’t realize the music is for you, little notes scroll across the screen.
Paint with the right colors and you get a reward.
If your kids don’t know their numbers, they can also choose to paint by letters. And if they don’t know the difference between upper and lower case letters, they can choose either one.
If your kid insists they want to paint paint, they have that option. They can select the smear icon and paint with glo colors. This is real painting, kind of. At least they get to smear their finger around the screen to apply the color.
Older kids can paint the colors with their fingers.
Or they can simply add stickers to photos. The app provides a library of digital stickers, a few of them that actually have something to do with Halloween. They can also paint directly onto the photo, although the paints tend to color over the photo entirely. I suspect the kids with the skills to seriously paint over photos will already be using one of the excellent iPad paint apps.
You can also stick Halloween stickers on photos.
The catch is that the Isuzu kids don’t really get to paint their way. You know the Isuzu kids. They don’t care about painting within the lines or the using the right color. And they get no reward for their joy. If they paint by the numbers with the colors they want, the numbers keep blinking at them. If they paint with their fingers, the colors stay inside the lines of the object they’re painting. No zoom, zoom, zoom for you kids.
This probably irritates Jenny more than any other aspect of the app. She’s not the poster girl for Isuzu but if cats could drive she would be the Isuzu siamese. When you have fifteen paws on your front feet, you don’t care about the numbers. And no matter how beautiful her paintings, the numbers never disappear and the music never plays.
On the other hand, if your kids are the kind of kids who need to stay within the lines—you know, the kind of kids who will grow up to wrap their garbage in foil and then line the garbage bag with newspaper before folding everything neatly and packing it inside, the kind of kids who will tell their dates they have loose threads on their collars and awkward panty lines and never understand why they never get a kiss goodnight—this is a pretty good app.
Actually, it’s a pretty good app for an iPad app for kids. If your kids like to color and you don’t want melted crayon on your car seats, pass it back and let them get in the Halloween spirit.
Jenny Manytoes rates 123 Glow
Jenny Manytoes would take a nap next to 123 Glow. Your six-year-old would probably bump it up a star or two. But Jenny’s an adult, and so am I and we’re sticking with the nap.