iPhone app gift suggestions?
December 15, 2010 7:42 AM   Subscribe

iPhone app filter: my brother's birthday is coming up and I'd like to surprise him with an iPhone app. Since I don't have an iPhone I need help. Tell me about awesome apps! It'd be great if I could surprise him with something he's never heard of!

BTW he's thirty something, loves everything mac/apple and gadgets, but isn't a programmer or a science geek, and travels often)

(I've seen this. My question is more in the direction of indulgent apps, and not must-have-for-daily-use)
posted by ThiefOfSweets to Computers & Internet (23 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Hmm.. i don't really have a specific reco, but maybe some useful info: apps need to be bought from his own itunes account in order to be installed on his phone, so i don't see how you can buy him one as a surprise gift. Also, unless its a specialized app that's for use in a professional setting, there aren't many apps that run more than a few dollars. (Which is a pretty piddly gift amount.)

Have you thought about just getting him an iTunes gift card instead?
posted by Kololo at 8:02 AM on December 15, 2010

Uh, Kololo is wrong. You can gift apps just fine; it's an option in the store. Apple will send the recipient an email that they can redeem. It's extra easy if you read the email on the device itself.

It would help to know what your brother likes. Angry Birds is probably the most famous game. I'm also fond of 100 Rogues, Doodle Jump, and Flight Control. If he's into flight sims, the X-Plane sim is amazing (at least it is on the iPad).
posted by chairface at 8:09 AM on December 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

I read the title and was coming in to suggest an iTunes gift card. Here are your options: email gift certificates, printable gift certificates, use your iTunes account to create an app list and then have it sent to your brother (you'd need his iTunes account name), or get him an actual gift card.
posted by cooker girl at 8:10 AM on December 15, 2010

Yep, I tried to buy my sweetie an app last year - there is no way for you to do so without using his phone / account. It's silly.

If you're comfortable using his phone, there are many language translation apps. I've seen fellow travellers using them several times, there are some really good ones.
posted by momus_window at 8:11 AM on December 15, 2010

Yep, I tried to buy my sweetie an app last year - there is no way for you to do so without using his phone / account. It's silly.

You can gift someone an app. You use the little drop-down arrow next to the "buy app" button and one of the options is to gift the app - I just now went to iTunes and looked. Maybe it's a new thing since last year.

Lonely Planet has a bunch of books/apps in the store that your brother might enjoy - I downloaded several when LP was giving them away free earlier this year during the Volcano Crisis, and found them pretty useful.
posted by rtha at 8:16 AM on December 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Yep, I tried to buy my sweetie an app last year - there is no way for you to do so without using his phone / account. It's silly.

Itunes added the option of sending an app as a gift (I know there used to be a problem with this in the past).

chairface, he isn't really into games (though I have been considering angry birds and the doodle thing, because they look nice). He does play around with the camera though.
posted by ThiefOfSweets at 8:23 AM on December 15, 2010

For a science geek: Wolfram Alpha
Hands down the best, geekiest app i have found. It is a computational knowledge engine that can be used for sooooooo many things. A really an amazing app. You can check out the web version at www.wolframalpha.com
posted by Studiogeek at 8:35 AM on December 15, 2010

(Oops..... just noticed ISN'T a science Geek...)
posted by Studiogeek at 8:36 AM on December 15, 2010

Does he play guitar and/or like to record music? Guitar Toolkit is fantastic, as is FourTrack.
posted by usonian at 8:38 AM on December 15, 2010

Response by poster: I'm afraid he's not very musical (but he's a very nice guy ;-))
posted by ThiefOfSweets at 8:47 AM on December 15, 2010

I like Hipstamatic for my camera. I'm also not a gamer, but have loved playing the harry potter lego on my iphone. Also: cut the rope; bejeweled; angry birds. I use Cardstar a lot (it stores all your little keyfobby tags). lots of the apps I use a lot are free, like Pandora - although maybe there is a paid version of that?
posted by dpx.mfx at 8:48 AM on December 15, 2010

If he travels internationally the Skype app is free, but you may be able to buy him a bunch of minutes on Skype. You can use Skype via wifi internationally for way cheaper then trying to make a regular call.
posted by bitdamaged at 8:56 AM on December 15, 2010

I'm having a lot of fun with the Word with Friends App. It's scrabble that you can play with your friends (or anyone randomly; the app will find you a partner) via the internet. It's only available for iPhones, iPods, and iPads, so it'd be a great purchase if he loves words and has a few friends with these devices. There is also a chat feature within Words, so taunting your losing competition is easy and fun! Scrabble is also a great game, if he likes word games.

Alternatively, I googled "great apps for camera lovers" and one of my hits was One Of The Best Camera Apps. I would suggest trying to google some similar phrases that are more specific to your brother. I'm sure you'll come up with one or two great apps, or one or two for each of his interests, depending on your budget. Good luck!
posted by chaiwawa at 9:49 AM on December 15, 2010

I am not a gamer but the two games I turn to consistently are Bejeweled and Words with Friends, both of which are asynchronous (at least Bejeweled has that mode) and can be used when I have time.

One of my favorite apps is Instapaper, which I love because it means wherever my iPhone is, I always have something I want to read. There's a free app which I used for a long time, but the pay app is worth the extra money and is something he might not buy for himself.
posted by immlass at 10:17 AM on December 15, 2010

Since he travels a lot, you could buy him a bunch of the Lonely Planet iPhone apps. They're basically mini guide books for tons of cities. Each city costs $5.99 so they are a bit more on the indulgent side (given that many iPhone apps are only 99 cents).
posted by joan_holloway at 10:21 AM on December 15, 2010

My question would be: Do you know what apps he already has?

Because unless he's the type to not buy many apps at all, which doesn't sound likely from your description, the chances are that he already has the apps that are both popular and obviously fit his interests.

Having said that, suggestions for people who travel a lot...

Stanza - probably the best e-reader app
Monopoly, Scrabble, Backgammon, Chess, Poker
TuneIn Radio - Streaming internet radio, 40,000 worldwide stations
Lonely Planet travel guides
posted by philipy at 10:40 AM on December 15, 2010

There's a bunch of really neat camera apps:

Camera Bag has 10 effect filters that produce nice results.

TiltShift Generator, which simulates tilt shift. Toy Camera and QuadCamera by the same company are pretty cool too.

Pano does a very decent job of stitching together multiple shots into panoramics.
posted by jamaro at 11:10 AM on December 15, 2010

Seconding Scrabble. Awesome app, great implementation. You can play against the cpu to hone your skills, play online with other friends who have the app, or pass it around in a car or on a bus while you travel. Best app ever.

If your friend is a redditor, the Alien Blue app is like super crack, too.
posted by Aquaman at 11:10 AM on December 15, 2010

The two games I generally turn to when looking to entertain myself on my Touch are skee ball and flick fishing. I know that's very 2009, but they hold up well.
posted by Gilbert at 11:34 AM on December 15, 2010

Stanza - probably the best e-reader app
I'd agree with this, but last I checked Stanza was free.
posted by juv3nal at 12:05 PM on December 15, 2010

I'll be buying this before I go on my next trip:

Cartographer App

It lets you import Google's My Maps for offline use on your iphone. The vide on the site would probably do a better job than I could at explaining it.
posted by backwards guitar at 12:36 PM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

I know this is practical but what does he do for work? You might find that there are apps that he can use for work that would be great to have on the go.

Also, what are his hobbies? Is he a big sports fan? There are many apps that cater to sports fans and fan boys, alike.

Good luck.
posted by MiggySawdust at 4:25 PM on December 15, 2010

Oh, camera apps. Try TrueHDR, it's surprisingly good. The results compensate for the low quality camera quite well, assuming a static scene. Also, they don't look all oil-painty.
posted by chairface at 5:30 PM on December 15, 2010

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