Sara Reiner | Contributor
December 21, 2012

‘Tis the Season for Giving the Gift of Apps


Smartphones and tablets continue to top Christmas lists this year, as the mobile revolution sweeps into 2013. But Santa is increasingly fielding app requests, too, since even smartphones aren’t terribly bright without quality content.

More people use apps now than ever before, with Apple and Google each hitting 25 billion downloads this year. Apps are so popular they’re slowly eclipsing web usage and will even take center stage at the famous Consumer Electronics Show in January.

In other words, if you’re still searching for great holiday gifts that don’t require much time or money, look no further.

Apps are definitely cheap, ranging from 99 cents to ten dollars on average (unless you throw away $999.99 on a “Millionaire’s App”). And just like luxury chocolates or fine wine, they’re always welcome although people rarely buy them for themselves. For the eco-conscious among us, they also make ideal “green” gifts since they can boast lower carbon footprints than a bunch of plastic toys.  

Once you’ve decided to bestow high-tech happiness to everyone on your list, figure out what phone or tablets they own before grabbing a gift card. Thankfully, you don’t have to own any of these devices to make your tech-savvy friends and family happy.

iPhones and iPads are the easiest devices to equip with awesome apps. Just visit the iTunes Store, find the app you want and click the arrow to the right of the “Buy” button. Then select the “Gift” option and fill in the appropriate payment information.

It’s slightly more difficult to purchase apps for Android owners, since the Google Play Store won’t let you choose specific apps as gifts. But you can get Google Play or Amazon Gift Cards for the people on your list, so they can download whatever mobile programs they want.

Sadly, you may have to give Windows Phone users a lump of coal instead, since the platform doesn’t yet support app gift cards.

Whichever platform you’re buying for, make sure you choose stellar apps that are sure to please your relatives.

If you have die-hard gamers in your family, consider buying them Infinity Blade or Angry Birds Seasons. The first game is a great way for geeks to fight monsters on the go, while the second brings holiday sparkle to a familiar classic.

For the cooks, there’s Grill-It, the ultimate barbecue guide app with step-by-step instructions on roasting absolutely everything. How to Cook Everything might be especially welcome for recent college graduates whose kitchen repertoire is limited to macaroni and cheese.

Camera junkies will definitely appreciate apps like iMovie, Apple’s portable video editor, or the totally cool Hipstamatic photo editor. And music lovers will thank you for the Spotify app, which provides endless hours of quality tunes.

Runkeeper is the best app for the health nuts in your family to track their miles while everyone else chows down on cookies and cake. Golfshot GPS can help Dad improve his putting at several hundred U.S. courses too, once the ground finally thaws.

The perpetually busy people in your life will benefit from an app like Pages or Numbers, which lets them access important spreadsheets and documents from absolutely anywhere.

Artists will probably fall in love with Brushes, an image creation app that can turn even stick figures into museum-worthy works of art.

Don’t forget the kids! Parent-approved apps like Elmo Loves ABC’s and Cut the Rope will provide hours of educational entertainment for them while giving Mom and Dad some much-needed quiet time.

And if you’re still stumped about which apps to give, just think about the recipient’s favorite activity. Chances are, there’s an app for that!