We’ve digitized the shopping ritual and morphed into mouse potatoes who click and swipe their fingers rather than transact with other humans face-to-face. But what of the holiday gift, that relic of our analog past? Does that still need to be a... “thing”? These days, gifts that require boxes and ribbons seem clunky and totally passé. Let’s digitize actual presents, and instead offer friends and loved ones apps*!
For the gourmet who travels on his stomach, why not set him up with David Lebovitz’s Paris Pastry? This iPad app (in two versions, one free) rounds up more than 300 of Paris’ best pastry, chocolate, ice cream and candy shops. With beautiful photos, up-to-date descriptions and maps, it’s ideal for pâtisserie fiends. Throw in the Paris RATP métro app and SpeakEasy French while you’re at it. They’re both free.
For your favorite baker, there are many options: the Baking with Dorie iPad app (two versions, one free) is packed with photos, videos, diagrams, as well as step-by-step trackers to ensure you don’t veer off-course. Martha Stewart Cookies for the iPhone and iPad is textbook Martha: gorgeous photography, instructional videos, baking tips and precise kitchen timers. If you want even the baking to be virtual this season, spring for Bakery Story available as both an iPhone and Android app. With it, you can design and decorate your very own dream bakery, and even choose how many cakes, pies, cookies and breads to stock!
For the person who loves to entertain, how about the Fine Cooking Menu Maker PC app (available in the Intel AppUp store)? It allows users to select recipes then generate customized shopping lists and cooking schedules. For the formaggio-phile, there’s the Cheese Plate iPhone app with lovely photos of 150 cheeses and themed plates, wine pairing and serving ideas, not to mention a clever search feature that allows you to sift by cheese name, milk type, style, country of origin, or flavor profile. Pat LaFrieda’s Big App for Meat is exactly what you think it is: a compendium of meat with photos, how-to videos, a 360° meat spinner and the Great Meat 101 Quiz. And to gild the lily, there’s Speakeasy Cocktails: Learn from the Modern Mixologists, possibly this season’s cooelst iPad app (after ours, of course!) It features a buying guide, a history of the speakeasy, photos, maps to the locations of more than 40 secret speakeasy revival bars, 200 recipes, and over 90 minutes of video tutorials with some of New York City’s more illustrious barkeeps. With that kind of content at your fingertips, you don’t really need to give iBeer... or do you? It’s still one of the best-selling apps for both iPhone and Android, and its iPad brother, iBeer Keg, is just as ridiculous.
Small gifts can be virtual, too. Silly apps to the rescue: Hanukkah Dreidel-ize a smartphone, get Emoji for texting emoticons, turn a phone into a lightsource with Tiny Flashlight + LED, transform a phone into a photo booth with Pocketbooth, or convert images to cartoons with Paper Camera.
There are truly as many app options as there are folks on your shopping list. And you don’t even have to unpeel yourself from the sofa to find the perfect gift. Apps are not only the mouse potato’s best friend, but the procrastinator’s secret weapon. Holiday shopping anxiety attacks? A “thing” of the past.
* For iPhone and iPad users, gifting an app is as easy as clicking on a drop-down menu. For Android users, it’s a little trickier but not impossible. These workaround tips from PC Magazine will help you send app gifts to non-Apple devices.
This post is brought to you as part of our Food & Technology Series, in partnership with Intel, a company that is all about making our lives better with technology, just as Food52 is with food.