My three year old loves this app ($2.99 apple/android) but I was hesitant to recommend it, at first. It doesn't SEEM like an early literacy app. It seems like a cute diversion for waiting rooms and restaurants (and it is that!), but the more I thought about it, and I thought about WHY she likes it, I figured I should share with you.
Jinga the cat is going on a road trip to visit your child's choice of 3 friends: a dog, a rabbit, and a bird. Each friend lives in a exotic locale: mountains, pyramids or beach. You tap a friend to get started on your trip.
Next, you must pack Jinga's suitcase. And this is where I started to realize that Road Trip is an excellent app for teaching narrative skills. We talk about where Jinga is headed: "Do you think she's going to need her swimsuit in the snowy mountains?" "What else do you think she should bring?"
Then, you choose a car. There are normal cars, sure, but the ice cream truck, pickle car, and shoe car are big favorites in our house. All you have to do to get Jinga going is tap her car. The more aggressively you drag Jinga, the faster she goes - much to her dismay at times. She has wonderful expressions for bumpy roads and hard landings. My daughter's favorite part is making Jinga look positively terrified.
Other features include the ability to stop for a car wash and gas. Once Jinga reaches her destination, you're back to the map and ready to choose another friend to visit! There aren't any levels or time limits, it's just a child-driven road trip adventure with fun cartoon friends.
As is, this is a great addition to a "first app" collection for 2-4 year olds. Talking about the story and the choices your child makes for Jinga along the way (the middle) from Point A (the beginning) to Point B (the end) also makes it a fantastic app for practicing Narrative Skills.
Bonus: no in-app purchases! No ads! No Wifi needed to use the app once its downloaded!
Caveat: it's kind of expensive for what it is, but it's offered for free fairly regularly. We've also got Sago Mini Boats (pretty much the same, but with boats!) and Friends (an animal friends playdate) and didn't pay for any of them. Try Apps Gone Free (apple) or App of the Day (Google Play).