Disney Appmates make your iPad a playmat

Disney's Appmates are toy cars for your iPad -- press them on the screen to race along the track. Simple, but addictive.

We're all for apps and add-ons that make the iPad more child-friendly -- we even advocated an iPad 3 kids edition -- but we have to draw the line when they're as good as this. How are we supposed to get a moment's peace when kids have toys this cool?

Disney's Appmates peripherals are toys bearing the likenesses of the Cars 2 characters, TechCrunch reports. They have special sensors on the bottom -- press them on the screen and the iPad will tell the difference between them. And this is where it gets really cool.

Each Appmate triggers different software, so just download the free Cars 2 Appmates app, press the character on the screen, and the iPad launches the corresponding app, making it a different adventure for each character. Each has its own narrative and dialogue too, effectively giving you multiple apps in one. How are us grown-ups supposed to ever get a look in?

You can race, complete missions to earn virtual cash, or just go for a spin. In those respects it mimics sandbox games such as Grand Theft Auto, but without any of the more risque elements. Here's a video demo with a cute kid. Aww.

Disney Consumer Products and Disney Mobile are behind it all. Previous efforts include the iOS game Where's My Water?, which overtook Angry Birds in the top paid apps chart. The Cars 2 Appmates are still patent-pending, but expect big things when they're cleared.

The Appmates will be on sale from the Disney Store from 3 October at £13 each or £20 for two. Four characters will be available, with two more coming in November. The app itself is free.

With innovative iPad functionality, and combining digital skills with real-world products, it's certainly a cut above most kids' apps. So would you buy a Disney Appmate? Let us know on our Facebook page.

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