*Warning-This review is for parents eyes only!*
I’ve put a disclaimer on this review because Santa Sidekick has a special parents only admin section that I’ll be talking about. When I do that I’m going to reveal a little bit of the app’s magic. I don’t want to be responsible for any Christmas spoilers so it’s parents only for this review. Santa Sidekick is described as Santa’s “best assistant” and it really is a fun app for the season. As a parent I love finding apps like this that are not only practical but also helps me spread Christmas cheer in my home.
To begin using Santa’s Sidekick you will enter in your children’s names. These will appear on the app’s main screen, or “Santa’s List”. For each child the app has three functions – Santameter, Wish List and North Pole Mail.
- Santameter – With the Santameter you can track how naughty or nice your child has been. Behavior is updated by tapping a thumbs up or down and this will change a meter. The meter moves between nice, not bad, not nice and naughty. After you’ve noted the behavior you can send an update to Santa. In my mind this feature is good for motivational purposes, it’s the 2011 version of my “Santa’s watching!” threat.
- Wish List – The Wish List is where your child records the things things they want for Christmas. There’s a spot for the item name, notes and a photo. From here they can tap a button and email the gift idea to friends or family. Basically anyone but Santa. After they’ve saved the items it will appear on their Wish List. From here the entire list can be emailed out, look out grandma and grandpa! This is also the place where children will send their lists to Santa. It takes one tap of a button and they’ll receive a message back telling them that their message is on the way and to stay good.
- North Pole Mail – Children can use North Pole Mail to communicate with Santa via “email”. On this screen they’ll see a red inbox button (more on that later) and two green buttons. One says “Send Santa a Message”, the other “Send Santa Your List”. The list button does exactly what it did in the Wish List feature, there’s no doubt Santa will receive those wishes one way or another! If children choose to send Santa a message they’ll be taken to a screen that looks just like an email. The “To” is filled out – Santa Claus and also “From” – your child’s name will automatically appear here. The subject is left blank for your child to fill in. The body of the email says “Enter your message here” and when your child taps this space these words disappear leaving the area blank and ready for their message. When they are done typing they will hit send and receive a message that their Santa loves to get email and will reply soon.
Those are the three features children can use in Santa Sidekick, now for the Admin features, the section where parents create magic. This section comes password ready and you’ll want to set one up straightaway, lock this part of the app down. Parents in the Admin section can view the Wish Lists that their children have sent to Santa. You’ll have the ability to pull up each individual item, note a price and mark if it’s been purchased. This way you can also use the app as a shopping list. In the Admin section you can also see the emails that your child has sent to Santa and this is where the fun comes in. You open up the email and then it’s your job to reply as the jolly old elf. Once you’ve sent Santa’s reply your child will be notified that they’ve got Santa mail the next time they use the app. A blinking red stocking appears next to their name on Santa’s list. When they view their individual North Pole Mail screen they will see the same blinking stocking above the red inbox button. When they open up their inbox they’ll be able to read the reply that Santa sent. I thought this was a clever way to handle the emails to Santa. Instead of getting generic, automatic replies your child can receive personal, relevant messages.
I’ve been very impressed with Santa Sidekick, both in it’s ease of use and how it promotes the magic of Christmas. From a practical standpoint this is a terrific way to find out what your children are wanting for Christmas. Looking at the app for the holiday entertainment , I can’t wait to start seeing the emails to Santa from my seven year old. I’m looking forward to sending replies and helping Santa out as his personal assistant. This app has a big holiday thumbs up from me!
Price when Reviewed: $1.99
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 4.2 or later.
Seller: Rino Enterprises LLC
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this app for review purposes.