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Apps are the best last minute Christmas presents. The secret to a memorable gift is to make it something that is feasible and useful for the receiver, says a recent study. That almost sounds like a description for buying apps that your loved one wants or should use, but probably wouldn’t purchase.

2014 ushered in changes to the way apps interact thanks to iOS 8 (which you should install right away iOS 8 Is Here: 10 Reasons to Install It Right Away iOS 8 Is Here: 10 Reasons to Install It Right Away If you own an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, you'll want to upgrade it to iOS 8 as soon as possible. Here's why. Read More ), and plenty of awesome updates to old apps 10 Awesome Third-Party App Updates For iOS 8 10 Awesome Third-Party App Updates For iOS 8 The recent release of iOS 8 brought with it a flurry of third-party app updates to spice up your new or existing Apple mobile device. Read More that made them must-haves. And of course, there were plenty of fantastic games to play too. Many of these apps are dirt cheap, so why not give a few away and bring a smile this festive season?

How To Gift An App

Gifting an app is super easy. Just open the app on your iPhone or iPad, tap the “Share” button in the top-right corner, and choose “Gift” in the sharing screen options.

Note: Gifts are only redeemable in the same App Store from which they were purchased, so if you would like to gift your US friend an app but you use the Canadian App Store, it’s not going to work. The same is true for gift cards, which is a little more obvious.

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10 Great iOS Apps You Can Gift

Swype ($0.99, universal)

Best-iphone-ipad-apps-gifts-2014-Swype

iOS 8 finally brought third-party keyboards to the App Store. Sure, you can get SwiftKey, but Swype has its own legion of fans (including this author) and our readers reckon it’s one of the best mobile apps worth paying for 6 Mobile Apps Worth Paying For [We Ask You Results] 6 Mobile Apps Worth Paying For [We Ask You Results] Paid apps can be a hard sell, but some apps offer such great value for money they more than justify the asking price. Read More . It supports swipe-to-type, it learns from your social networks and other words you type often, it supports multiple languages, and it also prompts you with emoji instead of words!

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Learn how to install Swype and read our review iOS 8 Lets You Replace Your iPhone Or iPad's Keyboard – Here's How iOS 8 Lets You Replace Your iPhone Or iPad's Keyboard – Here's How With iOS 8, you can finally to change your iPhone's keyboard, and you have some awesome options. Read More .

Day One ($4.99, universal)

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When it comes to journaling apps, nothing beats Day One. It’s easy to use and prompts you at the right time to chronicle your day, which is a practice several productivity experts recommend. It’s simple for beginners, but offers enough features to keep advanced users happy. It also looks gorgeous.

Learn what we loved about Day One in our review Keep a Digital Diary with Day One for Mac OS X and iOS Keep a Digital Diary with Day One for Mac OS X and iOS Everyone has a story to tell. It's not always a story in need of an audience, sometimes a story just needs to be told. You may want to continue the journal you started when you... Read More .

Buddhify 2 ($2.99, universal)

Best-iphone-ipad-apps-gifts-2014-Buddhify

Meditation helps you deal with stress, makes you more compassionate, and can even improve your health. If you don’t already meditate, you should do so, and Buddhify 2 is the best way to start. The app teaches mindfulness meditation to beginners with guided courses. Pop in your headphones for a calmer mind.

Read our round-up of mindfulness meditation apps for iOS Practice Mindfulness With Help From Your iPhone & These Apps Practice Mindfulness With Help From Your iPhone & These Apps Inner calm and tranquility? There's an app for that. Read More .

Noon Pacific ($1.99, universal)

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Catch up on the best new songs released in the past week with a digest of hand-picked selections. Every Monday, at noon Pacific Time, a new playlist of songs is created, which features tracks based on recommendations by several music blogs.

Check out why we love Noon Pacific Get A Handpicked Playlist Of The Week's Best Music With Noon Pacific Get A Handpicked Playlist Of The Week's Best Music With Noon Pacific Noon Pacific takes the best part of radio and isolates it into a brilliant web app. Clark Dinnison handpicks 10 new songs based on recommendations by 25 top blogs and shares them with you. Read More .

Clear ($4.99, universal)

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Clear is a to-do list app with a focus on easy input and simplicity. Gesture support makes it easy to add and delete tasks, you can set reminders, it has a nifty widget for the notification center, and it syncs with your Mac or other iOS device via iCloud. The colourful, minimalistic interface helps Clear do something so many other apps can’t: making your to-do list seem less daunting.

Superhero Workout ($2.99, universal)

The scientific seven-minute workout Use Free 7 Minute Workout Videos To Get Into Shape [Stuff to Watch] Use Free 7 Minute Workout Videos To Get Into Shape [Stuff to Watch] There are lots of YouTube videos that can show you exactly how your workouts should be going, and they won't cost you a penny. Read More is a great way to stay in shape without spending too much time. Superhero Workout takes that regimen and turns it into a little story to keep you entertained while you exercise. Basically, you’re saving the world in an interactive tale, based on how well you exercise. It’s a lot of fun and very motivating.

Hours ($7.99, universal)

Best-iphone-ipad-apps-gifts-2014-Hours

The most common problem among all the many time-tracking apps available on iPhones and iPads is that they are bloody difficult to use and maintain. Hours takes the stress out of tracking your time with a visual timeline, colour-coded for quick reference. Its reminder system also prompts you to switch the app on and off at just the right time. If you know an overworked freelancer who is struggling to keep track of this sort of thing, it could make a great gift.

Vert ($2.99, universal)

Best-iphone-ipad-apps-gifts-2014-Vert

You might think three dollars is a high price for a simple unit and currency converter app, but start using Vert and you’ll see why it’s money well spent. Apart from being ridiculously easy to use, it has over 1000 units spread across 34 categories, 164 currencies, and it works completely offline.

Notability ($2.99)

Best-iphone-ipad-apps-gifts-2014-Notability

Notability is arguably the best way to record and take notes in class. While the app records audio, you can write and draw anything you want. Later, tap that drawing and Notability will skip ahead to that point of the recording. It finally marries written note-taking and verbal recordings seamlessly.

Scanbot ($1.99, universal)

Store all your receipts, physical notes, business cards and other data safely in the cloud with Scanbot, a nifty app that takes a photo of anything you want and uploads it your preferred cloud storage service as high-quality PDFs or JPEGs. Scanbot Pro even has OCR i.e. the ability to read the text and make it searchable.

Bonus: Pixelmator for iPad ($9.99)

Best-iphone-ipad-apps-gifts-2014-Pixelmator

Pixelmator has been our pick as the best image editor for Mac Pixelmator - The Image Editor That Mac Users Should Be Using [Giveaway] Pixelmator - The Image Editor That Mac Users Should Be Using [Giveaway] Ever since we first featured Pixelmator in March 2010, it has been improved in so many ways. It's pretty much the affordable Photoshop alternative for Mac. We're giving away 25 copies of the latest version... Read More , and now it’s hit the iPad as well, along with winning the distinction of being named by Apple as the best iPad app of 2014. When it comes to image editing, you can’t do better than this.

10 Great iOS Games You Can Gift

Threes! ($2.99, universal)

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Apple’s Game of the Year for 2014, Threes! is a math-based logic puzzler. A grid of 4×4 squares asks you to stack tiles of similar numbers together, but only by moving all the tiles on the board in one direction simultaneously. It’s challenging, but it’s also incredibly addictive.

Read our Threes! review Could Threes Be The Most Addictive Puzzle Game For iOS Yet? Could Threes Be The Most Addictive Puzzle Game For iOS Yet? Do you hate productivity? Do you like to ignore the people in your life? Threes should be right up your alley, because it's going to take up all of your time. Read More .

Monument Valley ($3.99) [iPhone, iPad]

Best-iphone-ipad-games-gifts-2014-Monument-Valley

While Threes! took the honour of being the best iPhone game of the year, on the iPad, Apple crowned Monument Valley as the king. It’s available on the iPhone too, but this game’s beautiful graphics and art are best enjoyed on the tablet’s larger screen. In a world of Escher-inspired optical illusions, you have to guide a princess on her journey.

Check out what we loved about Monument Valley in our review A Game You Must Play: Monument Valley Is a Drop-Dead Gorgeous Puzzler A Game You Must Play: Monument Valley Is a Drop-Dead Gorgeous Puzzler Once in a while, there comes a mobile game that knocks your socks off -- and not in a Flappy Bird sort of way. Read More .

Leo’s Fortune ($4.99, universal)

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Monument Valley was Apple’s choice for the best designed game, but in our books, nothing topped Leo’s Fortune this year. The platform adventure game is amazingly engrossing, especially with its phenomenal touchscreen controls 5 Mobile Games With Phenomenal Touchscreen Controls 5 Mobile Games With Phenomenal Touchscreen Controls Games on Android and iOS deserve touchscreen controls made for a touchscreen -- not ported from a gamepad. These five games use the touchscreen to its fullest. Read More . Varied gameplay, intuitive controls, challenging without being too difficult—this game is as good as it gets.

Modern Combat 5: Blackout ($6.99, universal)

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The Modern Combat franchise has reached that stage where, like Call of Duty, any new game in the series immediately jumps to the top of a gamer’s most-wanted list. The long-awaited fifth title was released in 2014 and it’s bound to resonate well with any fan of the adrenaline-soaked genre.

Bonza ($0.99, universal)

Best-iphone-ipad-games-gifts-2014-Bonza

For those who love word games, Bonza set a new standard this year. You’re given the answers to a crossword puzzle, only the answers are disjointed and floating around. You have to club them together in a way that the words you form match a certain theme. It’s a fantastic original concept, delivered with grace.

Hitman Go ($4.99, universal)

Best-iphone-ipad-games-gifts-2014-Hitman-Go

If any game in 2014 deserved praise for being innovative, it was Hitman Go. Taking the popular Hitman formula first found in the PC and console franchise, Square Enix have succesfully created a thrilling virtual board game that retains the same stealth and planning as the full-priced titles. The end result is spectacular.

Wayward Souls ($6.99, universal)

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Our gaming editor, Dave LeClair, counts Wayward Souls as one of the best games of the year. Here’s his take: “I love everything about it. It’s built around gameplay first, and it’s just downright fun. Will it make you want to throw your phone in fits of rage when you die? Most definitely, but that’s exactly what a game like this is meant to do.”

Read about Dave’s temper tantrums in our Wayward Souls review Free-To-Play Go Away: Wayward Souls Is A Real iOS Game You Should Play Free-To-Play Go Away: Wayward Souls Is A Real iOS Game You Should Play Today's iOS marketplace is filled with free-to-play games that provide a small taste of the game, followed by in-app purchases that suck your soul dry. Wayward Souls is nothing like that. Read More .

FTL: Faster Than Light ($9.99, iPad only)

Best-iphone-ipad-games-gifts-2014-FTL

This year saw the release of one of the best PC games ported to the iPad The 10 Best PC Games Ported To iPad The 10 Best PC Games Ported To iPad Some PC developers are filling the gaps with iPad ports, and many are a perfect fit for the tablet. Read More , FTL: Faster Than Light. The real-time strategy game puts you in charge of a spaceship, and you have to figure out the most efficient way to manage your assets to get to your destination, even while under attack.

Infinity Blade III ($6.99, universal)

Best-iphone-ipad-games-gifts-2014-Infinity-Blade-3

It’s almost mandatory to include Infinity Blade on any “best of” list now, so the hack-and-slash game’s latest sequel might be this year’s ideal gift for the iPhone gamer in your life. The game looks stunning – especially on the new iPads with their advanced graphics processors – and it’s as enjoyable to play as its predecessors.

Broken Age ($9.99, iPad only)

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Tim Schafer, he of Monkey Island and Grim Fandango fame, made another point and click game. It’s an adventurous quest by two protagonists, laced with the humour Schafer is renowned for. You know what? It’s by Tim Schafer, you’d be nuts not to buy it.

What’s on your wishlist?

If you aren’t the one giving gifts, maybe you’re the one hoping to receive some of the above this holiday season. Tell us which apps and games you badly want, even if they’re not in the aforementioned list.

Will you be buying yourself any app presents this year?

  1. Mihir Patkar
    December 27, 2014 at 5:25 am

    ^Disclaimer for readers: iReadSolutions makes VisuCaller

  2. iReadSolutions
    December 25, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    VisuCaller (iPhone) is a gift to anyone until Dec 29 for anyone who wants an App that calls numbers for you without typing, or are just curious about Apps with Vision. It has reached top 100 in 12 countries. So download in the next couple days for free.

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