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Be mobile and merry with these Christmas apps

by Brad Spirrison

While smartphones, tablets and an assortment of other mobile toys and contraptions figure to make their way under the tree this Christmas, the apps that you download to them will entertain and organize you throughout the holiday season. Whether you are looking for fun games and interactive storybooks for the family, want an easier way to send out holiday cards, or would like to use healthier ingredients in your eggnog, here are five apps you should unwrap right away.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, Android) $2.99*

Even a killjoy will appreciate the interactive version of this classic Dr. Seuss tale. Like dozens of other Dr. Seuss titles that are available on smartphones and tablets, How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is available in three modes that are designed for different age levels. The “Read to Me” mode narrates the story as soon-to-be readers virtually turn the page. The “Read it Myself” mode is similar to printed books, with a few interactive features scattered throughout the story. Perfect for bedtime, the “Autoplay” mode will go through the whole story with one tap. A recent update allows users to record their voices and then share those audio tracks with others who own the app. There are also new sound effects and educational word association tools. All is well in Whoville with this great kids app.

*Normally $4.99, currently on sale

Cards (iPhone, iPod touch, iPad) Free

Haven’t had the time yet to send out personal, professional or family holiday cards just yet? No worries with this application developed by Apple. Cards comes equipped with a number of attractive templates for the holidays and other occasions throughout the year. You can of course customize your cards with pictures and text, and even personalize different versions of the same card to specific recipients. Once all of your information - including greetings, physical addresses and Apple - are entered, the app will then send printed cards on nicely crafted cotton paper to all of your recipients. While Cards is free to download, there is a $2.99 charge for each card you send within the United States and $4.99 to any location throughout the globe. All of this includes postage.

Cut the Rope: Holiday Gift (iPhone, iPod touch, iPad) Free

This holiday-themed companion to one of the most popular mobile games of all time features with the same mechanics and gameplay of the classic Cut the Rope game you may already know and love. For the uninitiated, here’s the premise. You need to get a hanging piece of candy into the mouth of your monster friend, Nom Nom, by cutting different pieces of rope by swiping. There are also stars scattered around each level that you can capture by swinging the candy into them, creating multi-step puzzle solutions that are a bit of a holiday themed, monster-feeding Rube Goldberg contraption.

First Words Christmas (iPhone, iPod touch, iPad) $1.99

If you have a toddler on the cusp of learning how to read and write, the First Words series of iOS applications serves as an invaluable tool to teach associations between letters, words and sounds. There are also features to engage older learners. First Words Christmas is a holiday-themed title. Use it to help your kid write his or first list for Santa.

Fooducate (iPhone, iPod touch, Android) Free

Holiday festivities come with temptations, particularly of the caloric variety. If you are trying to at least maintain your weight this season, or perhaps prepare meals and snacks that filled with more nutritional options, download this app to get to lowdown of all the ingredients you choose to include in your recipes. This app is a gift to health-conscious users throughout the year.

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