Gift Guide: iOS Apps

Have a family member who also loves their iDevice? If You won’t find a better gift for them than a few apps to make that experience better. Here are our favourite paid apps worth gifting to the iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch owner on your Christmas list.

Some of these apps also come in free versions, but the paid-for versions definitely add extra value. A digital download can be tricky to wrap, so we have created gift tag images which you can use when presenting your recipient with their serial number. Click on any tag for a larger version.



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 stack 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.

Buy Downcast ($1.99)



For the music lover on your list, a new music player might be the perfect fit. 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.

Buy Panamp ($1.99)

Alternatives: Track 8 ($1.99) or in:play ($1.99)



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 or 3G/4G connection . If Plex doesn’t sound quite right, then StreamToMe is a similar option that might work better. Both are great apps that will make their media-filled lives a little more joyful.

Buy Plex ($5.49)

Alternative: StreamToMe ($2.99)


Photo and Video


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 Christmas pictures with all the family.

Buy Camera+ ($1.99)



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.

Buy iMovie ($5.49)


Productivity And Utilities


For the person on your list who loves to organise and create to-do lists, you’ll need to pick out a good organisation app. You have a lot of different choices. If you want to pick up something that does absolutely everything, Omnifocus is a favourite amongst the organisation-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.

Buy Omnifocus ($20.99)

Alternatives: Checkmark ($2.99), Clear ($1.99), Toodledo ($2.99)



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.

Buy Pages ($10.49), Numbers ($10.49) and Keynote ($10.49)



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 use simple Gmail functions such as 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 less-then-ideal Gmail app. If you have someone on your list who desperately needs a better email app, Sparrow is a perfect fit.

Sparrow ($2.99)



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.

Buy Screens ($19.99)


Sleep Cycle

If you have someone on your list who has been struggling to get their sleep patterns in order, 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 will 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.

Sleep Cycle ($0.99)


Launch Center Pro

Launch Center Pro is the closest thing iPhone users can get to a customised launch centre. It’s perfect for anyone on your list who always complains about it taking too long to launch or find apps. 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 mum directly). It’s a great app for anyone who loves shortcuts and making things a bit simpler.

Launch Center Pro ($5.49)


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

Buy Drafts ($1.99)

Alternative: Notesy ($5.49)


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At Lifehacker, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.


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