Santa is busy with his offline duties, and it fell upon us to help him out with a roundup of fun Christmas apps. We turned to global app tracker App Annie for clues on what is currently popular in the UAE. Some of these Christmas apps turned out to be impressive, while a few were in the ‘say what?’ category, including this Christmas Nail Salon game for iOS. Seems Christmas parties will be tepid affairs unless you master “gorgeous and awesome” nail art.
We also came across innovative ideas that you can gape at, but not use — we were particularly impressed by Neural Karaoke, an artificial intelligence bot that generates Christmas songs. Developed by researchers at the University of Toronto, it analyses the content of images and whips up an appropriate Christmas carol, complete with background music and karaoke-style lyrics.
But while we wait for this bot to make its way to our phones, you can go ahead and play with some of these interesting, amusing, useful and even totally useless Christmas apps.
Google Santa Tracker
Google has been doing it for 12 years now, and has gotten really good at tracking Santa. This year, apart from a countdown clock, Google has opened the Santa Village, targeted at parents and educators. Meanwhile, kids can follow Santa’s progress around the world, or explore a dashboard for the “latest and greatest in Google Maps technology and sleigh engineering”. Every day brings a new activities such as games, puzzles and Santa-related videos. The tracker is available as an app for Android devices, while iPhone users can access it via a browser.
Personalised Call from Santa
Santa wants to have a word. Parents can set up a direct call between Santa and their kids with this app. He’s standing by to deliver personalised messages at any time you want. You can pick from 28 greetings, add your child’s photo to the call screen and then sit back and, as the developer claims, watch your child jump through the roof when they receive their Christmas Eve call from Santa. Incidentally, if your kids have been been naughty, you can ask the Big Guy to “shape them up”.
If those dancing elves look uncannily like you, your friends or family members, well, you can blame it on Elf Yourself. The app lets you select up to five faces from photos on Facebook and on your phone. Or you could take an impromptu selfie and go solo. These mugshots are neatly superimposed on elves — you can fine-tune the placement for a close fit. Then select a dance theme from the free or paid catalog — a few different moves are free every day — and the app will generate a video of you tearing up the dance floor with your buddies. And shaking up your Facebook wall, too, when you post this masterpiece.
What do people traditionally do under the mistletoe? How many times does Santa check his naughty or nice list? What are you supposed to leave out for him? Challenge yourself and your friends with this Christmas Quiz app. You will be racing against the clock here, and each round lasts 20 questions — four options per question. The app is rather barebones, but that won’t matter if you score a perfect 20, right?
Santa Gets Fit for Christmas
Does Santa really need to get fit for Christmas, or is he fine just the way he is? Well, this app certainly thinks Santa needs to lose some weight in time for Christmas. But he will need your help to slim down fast. You get to play a fitness coach in this rather amusing game, watching over not only what Santa eats, but also ensuring he regularly hits the treadmill, lifts weight and jumps rope. And once you get him in shape… no, it is not time to sit back and relax. You can now turn your attention to the rest of the gang. You can even go after the rather flabby Snowman.
Christmas Dessert Santa Bake Shop
While still on the fitness front, you might need to practice what you preached to Santa if you spend too much time with this app. Christmas Dessert Santa Bake Shop helps you whip up yummy cupcakes, cake pops, donuts, cookies, ice cream and popsicles. And then garnish them with more than 100 toppings and decorations. The app claims it has used realistic cooking tools and steps, and has abundant variety with thousands of ways to make Christmas sweets. So that should keep you busy for a while. Just don’t tell the newly-fit Santa about it.
Christmas Gift List
Christmas brings up the inevitable question — what do you gift whom? Ideally, you want to go beyond standard issue items, and come up with innovative gifting ideas customised for each person on your list. The Christmas Gift List is a handy tool that keeps track of gifting ideas and recipients. You can also use it as a budgeting tool by assigning amounts you want to spend on each person, and keeping track of how much you are left with. The list can be regularly updated — when you purchase the gifts, or get delivery or wrap them up. The data can be synced to Google Drive, and you can password protect your list.
With its latest update, this popular collage maker offers Christmas-themed stickers, backgrounds and templates. You can spruce up your photos, share them on social media, email or even print them out. The editing is done via simple touch gestures and the app lets you collate photos from various sources, including Facebook. And yes, if you are on vacation this Christmas, it seems with this app you can make it “look even better than it really was”!
A Charlie Brown Christmas
Help Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang find the true meaning of Christmas. This popular app features Peter Robbins, the original voice of Charlie Brown. You can join him on an interactive journey complete with animations and background music. Or play a piano, “finger paint”, or go caroling with the Peanuts choir. Moreover, you can try your hand at putting up a virtual Charlie Brown Christmas tree, sparkling with over 150 ornaments and decorations. The iOS version includes 30 animated iMessage stickers.
Sing Along Christmas Carols
The festive season puts people in a good mood and they tend to be more forgiving. So it might be a great time to unleash your singing talents on them. Sing Along Christmas Carols claims to be a karaoke-style app, that you can use to brush up on your carols, or even take them “door to door to bring friends and neighbours Christmas cheer”. Do this at shopping malls across Dubai, and who knows, you might even land yourself a lucrative deal with a big record company. This app is for iOS, but those in the Android camp can try out the similar Christmas Carol Karaoke app.