Give the gift of better apps for Apple’s iOS

3 Dec

3 hrs.

Have a family member who also loves their iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch? If so, you won’t find a better gift for them than a few apps to make that experience better.?

Here are some of our favorite (and your favorite) paid apps for holiday giving.?


If you have a podcast lover on your gift list, you won’t find a better app than Downcast. It puts every other podcast manager to shame with automated downloading, excellent data management, and the ability to add and sync new podcasts on the fly.

It has a ton of other great features as well. Simply put, Downcast blows Apple’s solution out of the water and is easily the best gift you could give to a podcast fanatic.

For the music lover on your list, a new music player might be the perfect fit. While the default player is just fine for most people, music addicts might prefer something with a bit more function or flash. If your gift recipient wants some more features, specifically the ability to create solid playlists from anywhere, Panamp is one of the best choices out there.?

It does everything the regular music app does, but it does it better. For people looking for a whole new way to browse their music, both Track 8 and in:play are worth a look for their drastically different design and user experience. Either way, a new way to listen to music is always fun, and all three of these choices are solid.

Have a media lover on your list? Than one of the best apps you can give them is one that gives them access to their entire library no matter where they are. Plex is fantastic at this. With Plex running on their home computer they’ll be able to stream music, photos, and videos directly to their iPhone through a Wi-Fi connection or cellular network. If Plex doesn’t sound like it’ll suit their needs, then StreamToMe is a similar option that might work better. Both are great apps that’ll make their media-filled lives a little more joyful.


We adore Camera+ because it’s hands down the most useful, incredible camera for the iPhone. Even if someone on your list is just an amateur photographer who occasionally snaps a picture of the family dinner, Camera+ will help make those pictures look better. It offers ways to improve bad pictures, reduce camera shake, add filters, and the all-important camera timer for those holiday pictures with all the family.

If you have a budding film director on your gift list, iMovie is a great choice for editing on the go. Sure, it’s not as sophisticated as a desktop editor, but iMovie is perfect for those who just want to trim up their home movies so they’re presentable.?

The best part is that it’s simple enough to use that anyone can pick it up and start editing video right away. If you’re sick of getting videos from someone that are chopped up or too long, iMovie might just be the perfect gift.


For the person on your list who loves to organize and create to-do lists, you’ll need to pick out a good organization app. You have?a ton of different choices. If you want to pick up something that does absolutely everything,?

OmniFocus is a favorite amongst the organization obsessed. If you’re looking for something simpler, Checkmark is?an amazing location-based reminder app, Clear keeps?things simple and elegant, and Toodledo fits somewhere in the middle of all those.

It really depends on what type of person you’re shopping for, but rest assured you’ll be able to find something perfect for them in the App Store.

iWork is a collection of some of the best software Apple has for iOS. Each of the programs are nearly just as powerful as their desktop counterparts, and they’re incredibly easy to use. Pages is a simple way to write and edit documents on the go, while Numbers makes it so you can work on spreadsheets no matter where you are. The real standout is Keynote, which not only allows you to easily create presentations, but also show them off without having to lug around a laptop.

For the Gmail lover on your list, you’re not going to find a better email manager than Sparrow. It not only allows you to do simple Gmail functions like add labels and tags, but it’s also slick and easy to use. The best thing about Sparrow is that it feels like you’re actually in Gmail, but you don’t have to work with Google’s lackluster Gmail app. If you have someone on your list who desperately needs a better email app, Sparrow is a perfect fit.

Have someone on your list who loves to control their desktop remotely? Then Screens?is the best iOS remote desktop app out there. What makes Screens stand out is the fact it’s incredibly easy to use, but still powerful enough that it does everything you’d expect from a remote desktop app. It’s the perfect app for anyone you know who’s constantly complaining about not having access to their home computer when they’re on the go.

Sleep Cycle
If?you have someone on your list who has been struggling to get enough sleep (or has been getting too much), Sleep Cycle is a great app that can track their sleep habits and help them figure out what’s going on. It won’t magically get them a good night’s rest, but it can help figure out what’s wrong. It’ll also wake them up during an optimal sleep state, which is a handy feature for anyone you know who seems a little groggy in the morning.

Launch Center Pro
Launch Center Pro is the closest thing iPhone users can get to a customized launch center. It’s perfect for anyone on your list who always complains about it taking too long to launch or find apps. At its core, Launch Center Pro offers up a ton of shortcuts to directly launch apps and specific actions within many of them (for instance, you can launch directly into the Instagram camera, or call your Mom directly). It’s a great app for anyone who loves shortcuts and making things a bit simpler.

For the constant note taker on your list, you have about a billion different options to choose from in the App Store. That said, we love the versatility and usability of Drafts. Drafts also makes a perfect gift because it can send out notes to pretty much every cloud and notes service you can think of, including Dropbox, Evernote, Simplenote, and elsewhere. Another fantastic option is Notesy, which syncs with Dropbox, and also supports TextExpander and Markdown to make typing on an iPhone easier.

A special thanks goes out to everyone who provided suggestions! It made putting together these guides a lot easier, and a better fit for you.

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