Apps to gift for Christmas
Skip the stocking stuffers this year and give these iPhone, iPad and Android apps instead
Apps might seem like the easy way out of gift giving, as minimal work is required on your end. But when you put some thought into selecting exactly the right one, we think it's just as well. And of course, giving a mobile app couldn't be more convenient when you're in a last minute pinch. So go ahead, check of your Christmas list with these affordable iPhone, iPad and Android apps.
Barefoot World Atlas (iOS) $4.99
Anyone equipped with an Apple device and a bad case of wanderlust can temporarily sate that nagging travel itch with Barefoot World Atlas. To be clear, the app was designed with the little ones in mind, but we think it's fun for all ages. The 3-D globe features vibrantly animated icons that, when touched, offer a short description of the respective location, along with photos. The app also offers an audio function, which will read the description aloud to your tiny tots.
It can be tough picking out the perfect gift for the mega-geek in your life. Rest assured, this one will do the trick. Think of WolframAlpha as an intensely smart search engine. Users can ask specific questions on a variety of topics and receive direct answers. But they're not just your regular old run-of-the-mill responses, these ones are based on 25 years of expertise, using algorithms and data to churn out the most accurate answer to your inquires.
Alien Blue (iPad) $3.99
This is another one for the nerds in your life. Redditors will rejoice in the site's Alien Blue app for iPad, which is optimized for the tablet's slick Retina Display. The app is even a win with those who've never tried Reddit's site (so pick up a copy for yourself while you're at it, if you haven't already). Its super clean interface makes for a smooth experience that's even more addictive than the browser version. A free version of the Alien Blue app is also available for iPhone.
Omnifocus (iPhone) $19.99
Omnifocus is the ultimate list-making app (it'd better be for the steep tag, right?) We promise that your obsessive compulsive pals will delight in its efficiency. On the flip side, it's also a nice app to gift for the friend who is consistently late for everything. It can be a little overwhelming for those who like to keep things simple, as it offers a seemingly never ending list of options, but that tends to be a favorite feature with the organizational-obsessed.
Have a toddler boy or a nephew in your life? Gift 'em this no frills Thomas the Train app. It's absurdly easy to navigate, even for the tiniest of tots and offers a handful of entertaining activities. Kids can choose from matching games, puzzles and coloring pages. Each activity lets them choose between an "easy" or "hard" level of difficulty. And when they've completed an entire task, they'll get to view a short animated clip.
The app itself is totally free, and folks who download it can also listen at no cost. Of course, that does come with a pesky price of its own: having to deal with incessant commercial interruptions. Do right by the music lovers in your life and gift 'em a subscription to Spotify's Premium service, which allows them to listen to their favorite tracks anytime, anywhere without a single abrasive ad. A full service subscriptions is just $10 per month, and you can link it straight to your credit card. Or, if you want to take a cheaper one-time route, Spotify gift cards are also available in $10, $30 and $60 increments.
Star Walk (iPad) $2.99
Aspiring astronomers and outdoorsy types should be equipped with this augmented reality app, designed to help its users explore the night sky. Available for both Apple's iPhone and iPad, Star Walk lets you aim the device's camera at a particular point of interest and then puts up an overlay of data to track stars and constellations.
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