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Christmas is right around the corner, and time is running short to buy gifts for your nearest and dearest. But things are a little different this year, with pandemic restrictions meaning many of us won’t get to see our extended families any time soon. There’s also been an uptick in online shopping and an increase in shipping delays, making things difficult for the last-minute disorganized shoppers among us. So why not go digital this year?

A digital gift can be delivered immediately via email, even to someone you’re not seeing in person this year. It can be an environment-friendly decision too, cutting down on packaging to ensure nothing ends up in landfill. And with people more accustomed to socializing online than ever before, digital gifts feel like a natural choice this year. But hey, if you’re not convinced, we’ve also written a conventional gift guide covering the best actual tangible gadgets for an iPhone lover.

Disclosure: our affiliation with some of the following brands means we get a commission if you buy their stuff via our links. But rest assured we only seek these arrangements for products we really believe in. We say no to hundreds of sponsorship requests every year because the product isn’t up to scratch, so you can be sure these remaining picks have our genuine seal of approval. Thanks for understanding!

Anyway, without further ado – here are our top digital gift ideas for the iPhone owner in your life.

Apps and games!

Starting from just $1

Buying somebody a hand-picked app or game is way more personal than an iTunes gift card ever could be. Paid apps start at just a buck, so you can easily scale the gift to any budget, but we’d recommend gifting a premium app the recipient can really dig into over the holidays. Some users rarely explore beyond the free sections of the App Store, so grabbing something they wouldn’t buy for themselves can feel like a real treat.

Try to tailor the app to the person’s interests. Perhaps Scrivener ($20) for your friend who wants to write a novel, Affinity Photo ($20) for the iPad-owning photographer in your life, or KORG Gadget ($40) for the experimental musician in your family. Buying for someone arty? Looom ($10) is a fun, accessible animation tool for iPad, while Procreate ($10) is the drawing app that pro illustrators swear by. (Get Procreate Pocket instead if they don’t have an iPad).

Making cartoons with Looom for iPad

If you’re buying for a gamer, you’re spoilt for choice. Try The Witness ($10) or Layton: Curious Village ($10) for that special someone who spends every gathering solving puzzles in the corner. The Jackbox Party Packs (from $24/£23 for 5 games) are a set of hilarious multiplayer games that the entire family can join in with. Minecraft ($7) is a solid bet for kids, while adults may be surprised to know that Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas ($7) is available for iOS.

Open world puzzler The Witness

(To gift an app, hit the share button in the App Store. Then tap Gift and enter your recipient’s email address when prompted. You can even schedule the email to be held back until Christmas morning!)

MasterClass Membership

$180, currently 2-for-1

MasterClass is the creme de la creme of the e-learning world, offering in-depth video lessons from household names on a broad range of subjects. And the expert teachers aren’t D-list duds, either: the service includes Martin Scorsese on filmmaking, Gordon Ramsay on cookery, Margaret Atwood on creative writing, and even Serena Williams on tennis.

With a single membership, you can learn about interior design, poker, singing, business leadership, photography, chess, gardening, and even space exploration. That’s just the tip of the iceberg – talk about broadening your horizons!

Those who love learning new skills will be like a kid in a candy shop here, with nearly 100 classes accessible to members. It’s not cheap, that’s for sure, but you get what you pay for – and right now MasterClass is running a two-for-one offer, meaning you can grab one membership as a gift and another for yourself at no extra cost.

MasterClass

iPhone Photography Course

Was $497, now $97

For the aspiring photographer in your life, why not give the gift of knowledge with the world’s most popular online photography lessons?

The course starts off with the iOS camera essentials, before moving through important principles of composition and lighting, and finally showcasing more advanced technical photography skills. It runs through all manner of post-production and editing skills, as well as the apps needed to elevate your photo game beyond mere Instagram filters.

Academy founder Emil Pakarklis explains: “one of the common iPhone photography misconceptions is that the iPhone can’t be used for serious photography. While DSLR cameras are technically superior, the quality of a photo mostly depends on the photographer’s intent and creative vision.”

Though the original retail price is a whopping $497, the course is often on sale – and right now you can follow our link for a huge 80% discount.

iPhone Photo School

Tips & Tricks eBook

Was $10, now $7

Yes, yes, self-promotion, we know. Sorry. But did you know we now sell an eBook comprising all 250+ core iPhone tips from our app across 20 chapters? We’ve had a lot of requests over the years for a version of the guide that can be read on a computer or even printed out, so here it is!

Note that while we wouldn’t necessarily recommend printing all ~600 pages, the ebook is designed to play nice with home printers so you can print out favorite tips or chapters for easy reference. If you’d rather read on a device, the ebook is formatted for iPhone, iPad, Mac, PC, and even Kindle. Anything else with a PDF viewer should work, too.

If you’ve found the tips in this app helpful over the years, the eBook makes a great standalone gift for anyone in your life who may need a helping hand with a new Apple device this year. It’s the perfect beginner’s guide. And because we’re feeling festive, from now until the end of the year you can use the offer code WINTER for 30% off.

Tips & Tricks eBook

NordVPN Subscription

$59 for 12 months or $89 for 27 months

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) may sound like something only tech-savvy security nerds would care about, but in reality, VPNs are easy to set up and something everyone with an internet-enabled device should be using. It may not be the most exciting gift, but if there’s someone in your life whose privacy you care about – and who isn’t likely to buy something like this for themselves – access to a secure service like NordVPN could provide some peace of mind.

Not only does a VPN make your internet browsing secure and anonymous, it can also be used to protect your data, avoid hackers and government surveillance, and even stream TV shows that are region-locked to another country. It can also provide added security against the dangers of public Wi-Fi networks and stop advertisers tracking you.

There are plenty of VPNs out there, but for our money, NordVPN is the best around. It’s affordable, has a solid iOS app, and has a strict no-logs policy that means your activity is never stored anywhere. The Christmas sale is a particularly good deal, too.

NordVPN