Make sure you know which kind of device your recipients use.
Starting our fourth decade: Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously online for 31 years

Cheapskate's Guide: Give an app for the holidays

December 14, 2014

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2014, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2014, The Post-Standard

This is the fourth and last installment of the Cheapskate's Guide for 2014. Go to the Technofile website at www.technofileonline.com for previous installments.

You can make the coming holidays an "appy" time. Give an app or two.

It's easy. But before you get started, make sure you know which kind of device your recipients use. (Not all tablets are iPads, for example.) iPad and iPhone users need apps from Apple's Apps Store. Android users need apps from Google's app store, called the Play Store. Amazon Kindle Fire tablets are Android devices, but are non-standard in a few ways, so it's best if you give Kindle fans money to buy apps from Amazon's own Appstore.

Another hurdle: Unless you use an Apple device, you can't buy an app as a gift at Apple's App Store. (You can't buy an app, period.) And unless you have an Android device, you're in the same boat at Google's store, although someone else could email you an Android app if you've set up your tablet or phone for that. (Yes, life can be complicated.)

At Apple's App Store, find the app you want to give and then tap the "Share" icon at the upper right corner of the app detail window. Fill out the form that shows up. You'll be able to specify the name and email address of the recipient. Be sue to add a personal message. (If you have an older iPhone or iPad, you might have to update the app that controls the App Store before you can gift an app. Open Settings, then General, then Updates.)

The recipient will get an email from Apple showing how to get the gift app at no charge.

Google hasn't added direct app gifting from its Play Store, but you can give an Android user a Google gift card. Target carries Google cards in our area. They're easy to redeem at the Google Play Store.

When in doubt about what kind of phone or tablet is involved, the simplest way is also the oldest: Just give cash along with a card in a holiday envelope. $5 will buy two or three apps, regardless of the device; you can be a true cheapskate if you give apps or money for apps.

One last thought: Windows phones and tablets have sold poorly, but quietly check to find out if anyone on your list has such a device. If so, as usual, cash makes a cool gift.

Write to Al Fasoldt at afasoldt@gmail.com. You can read any of Al's thousands of past columns at www.technofileonline.com.