iStocking Stuffers: The Best Apps for That iPad Under the Tree

So you know someone who’s lucky enough to be getting an Apple iPad as a Christmas present. Well, that’s just the beginning of the adventure. The next step is to get their device loaded up with great apps—and naturally, they’ll want a few that show off the iPad’s remarkable capabilities. Today I’m sharing my ideas for fun paid apps that will leave any new iPad owner saying “Oh, now I understand what all the fuss was about.”

Luckily, even the best paid iPad apps are pretty inexpensive, meaning you can probably afford to give a few of them as virtual stocking stuffers. And Apple makes it pretty easy to do this: back in March 2010, the company added a “Gift This App” feature to the iTunes Store. So all you have to do to give an app as a gift is sign into iTunes (you’ll need to download iTunes to your Windows or Mac computer and create an account if you haven’t already), find the app you want, click on the little down-arrow next to the “Buy App” button, select “Gift This App,” and fill in the form that asks for your name and the recipient’s name and e-mail address.

Real Racing HDYou can enter a personal message, and you can choose to send the gift app via e-mail—in which case Apple sends a link for redeeming the gift—or print out a redeemable code. If you choose the e-mail option, the message goes out right away, so the print option is better if you want to surprise someone on Christmas morning.

There are plenty of great free iPad apps too, but you can’t give those as gifts—and even if you could, it wouldn’t exactly underscore your generosity, would it? So my list includes only paid apps, ranging in price from $1.99 to $13.99. (You could buy all 10 of these apps for $53.90.) The prices listed are those in effect today, December 20—some holiday discounts may expire soon.

In previous roundups of my favorite iPad apps, I’ve tended to emphasize programs that have some practical utility—see 26 Apps to Drive your iPad Wild and 10 Fantastic Photo Apps for the iPad. So this week’s list is heavy on games (like Real Racing HD, shown in the image above) and what you might call “coffee table apps” that showcase the iPad’s big touchscreen.

Got your own ideas for great gift apps? Please leave a comment below. Also be sure to check out my earlier article, The Xconomy 2010 Gadget Gift Guide.


Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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