Tablets and smartphones usually make excellent Christmas presents, but what do you buy the person who already has all the touchscreen gadgetry they need?
The answer, of course, is more gadgetry they can use with their existing devices! Luckily, the popularity of Apple’s hardware means there’s a huge variety of after-market products designed specifically with iOS users in mind.
So here’s the MakeUseOf 2015 gift guide for the iPhone or iPad lover in your life.
The Apple Watch landed mid-way through 2015 and enjoyed a positive response from its target demographic (anyone with an iPhone interested in wearables, basically). If you’re looking for a gift for someone, and they own an iPhone 5 or newer, then the Apple Watch might be worthy of your consideration.
The Apple Watch Sport (above) is the company’s most affordable wearable, starting at $349 for the 38mm model and $399 for the larger 42mm version. This is the lightest version of the watch, but also the least hardy. If you’d rather spend a little more, then the stainless steel version can be snapped up from $549 and $599 for the 38mm and 42mm models respectively.
You can spend even more money on aftermarket accessories like cases, or Apple’s brand new official charging dock ($79) — or save some money and opt for a third party aftermarket charger, like this aluminium model from Spigen ($16).
The Apple Watch isn’t the only wearable accessory you should consider, though it’s the only smartwatch I’d recommend for use with iOS. Fitness trackers like the Fitbit Charge ($140, above) and Surge ($220) are great options, as is the Jawbone UP3 ($145).
The Gift of AirPlay
AirPlay is a wonderful thing. One minute you’re sitting on the sofa, watching a video on your iPhone or iPad, and two taps later, that video is on your TV for all to see. Whether you’re watching cat videos on Facebook, or an entire movie on Netflix, AirPlay allows you to share your screen with the entire room.
Like most Apple technologies, AirPlay is proprietary, which means other companies need to pay Apple in order to use it. Though some software can provide stable AirPlay playback, you’ll need something like an Apple TV for best results.
Luckily, Apple just released a brand new Apple TV (from $149) which not only provides great streaming performance, it has a brand new app ecosystem and touch-enabled remote control to boot.
Remote Controllable Toys
Christmas is a great time of year to buy people fun gifts they wouldn’t normally purchase for themselves, like Sphero’s latest Star Wars-themed BB-8 app-enabled droid ($180, below). I reviewed BB-8 last month, and it’s a lot of fun to control, particularly if you’ve got a cat who likes to chase balls around the house.
Sphero’s interactive gadgets aren’t limited to Star Wars tie-ins. Sphero 2.0 ($150) has been around for a year or so now and comes with support for low-level visual programming, providing an educational slant on the fun. There are also wheeled variants like the Darkside ($130) and Ollie ($99) that focus primarily on tricks.
Parrot, the company that brought us the much loved AR Drone, has been busy over the last few years, and their latest remote-controllable invention is the Bebop Quadcopter Drone ($499, below). Unlike the cheaper AR Drone 2.0 Power Edition ($330), this is one app-cessory that straddles the line between professional drone and toy, so the price is bound to put many off.
Fortunately the company also produces a range of cheaper and more accessible mini drones like the Rolling Spider ($125), which combines air and ground fun and the Airborne Night MiniDrone ($130), which is optimized for flying in dark conditions.
Arguably the achilles heel of most modern smartphones, battery life can be drastically improved with a few after market accessories. If you know someone who burns through battery life like it’s going out of fashion, you could make their life easier this Christmas by giving the gift of external power.
AmazonBasics is Amazon’s ultra-cheap accessory line, and this includes external lithium ion polymer batteries that start at $5.99 for 2,000 mAh. For a good balance between size and available power, I’d recommend the 5,600 mAh capacity ($19.99) or 10,000 mAh ($24.99) for power users with lots of devices.
One limitation with these external cells is that they still need to be charged independently of your devices. One way around this is to opt for some sort of charger — perhaps something with a solar panel. Anker’s PowerPort solar charger comes in 21-watt ($55, below) and 14-watt ($46) versions, each with dual ports and a nifty fold-away design.
For The Gamers
iOS 8 introduced support for Apple-approved gaming controllers, and though the market isn’t exactly crowded, there are a number of titles that really benefit from physical buttons, like GTA: San Andreas.
SteelSeries was the first company to make a splash in this department, and their wireless Stratus controller ($42, above) provides four face buttons, four shoulder buttons, two analogue sticks and a d-pad in a neat rechargeable package. For gamers with bigger hands, the Stratus XL ($62) sacrifices portability in favour of comfort; though it requires AA batteries (like an old Xbox 360 controller).
Third party console accessory manufaturer Mad Catz has also jumped on board the controller bandwagon with the aptly named C.T.R.L.i Gamepad ($45) for the iPhone and iPad.
For a cheaper option, the MOGA Power Series ($25, above) provides a full set of inputs in a smaller package. All of these controllers will take games like Terraria, The Wolf Among Us, Bastion, BioShock, and so on to the next level.
And Don’t Forget
If you’re really stumped for ideas, you can always opt for the unimaginative-yet-often-appreciated iTunes gift card. Available in $30, $60 and $120 denominations, iTunes credit can be used for a wide variety of things including: apps, music, TV shows, movies, books, in-app purchases, Apple Music subscriptions, and even iCloud storage space.
So what will you buy the iPhone and iPad user in your life? Let us know in the comments!