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The Christmas List

The Best Christmas List App for 2014


For many of you at this point you’re holiday shopping is probably well underway. However, for many more of you you’re probably procrastinating as usual :-) I’ve used my favorite gift list app for the last few years and it’s really good because it’s not really focused just on Christmas. However, the app also hasn’t been updated in a while and “The Christmas List” app came across my desk. I decided to check it out and it instantly became my favorite. It’s really hard to explain other than it simply has an easier workflow. What I expect from the “Best Christmas List App” is that it will allow me to easily add people from my contacts along with their photos. It will easily allow me to create a budget for each person and the ability to add a list of gifts for each person. I also expect it to have a passcode feature and the ability to easily check off the gifts as I get them. As a matter of fact without these basic features the App will likely get deleted from my iPhone. The Christmas List App has all of these basics and more. First off even with the basics it’s really well thought out and quick and fast to make the entries. You can easily add people from your Contacts or create them manually. You can then assign each person a budget.


After that you can easily add one or more gifts to each person including the ability to add a photo of the gift as well as the price and even a priority rating. Lastly you can even choose the store or add it if it’s not in the list. This will help with shopping lists by store. If you’re giving the same gift to multiple people you only have to enter it once and then assign it to everyone that you’re giving that gift to.


It’s gets better. You can not only assign a passcode, but you can even use Touch ID on iPhone 5s or iPhone 6/6 Plus. You get a countdown in the App for Shopping Days til Christmas and in iOS 8 you can even add it as a widget to your Notification Center. While this is called “The Christmas List” app, it’s not actually limited to Christmas. You can add additional “Groups” for any other holidays that you want to celebrate and buy gifts for. You can share your lists via iMessage/SMS, AirDrop as well as Email and Print. While checking things off as you buy them is a must have, it certainly not the only thing to consider. Did you wrap the gift? Does it require shipping? You can not only mark a gift as Purchased, but also Wrapped, Shipping or Received.


While The Christmas List app is GREAT and my new favorite, it’s not quite perfect. There are a couple of things I would like to see. First and foremost I’d love to see an iPad version. Not sure why so many of these type of apps leave out the iPad? I’d also like to see cloud syncing of lists to iCloud or Dropbox between devices. It’s great that you can add photos of the gifts, but you can only do so with the built-in camera or from the Camera Roll. I’d also like to see an integrated Google search for pics of gifts. It would be so much faster to search for say an Xbox One, find the pic online and insert it rather than having to leave the app to do all that manually. It would also be nice to be able to add countdown dates for the other groups that you create. With a few additions like these I could easily use this app for ALL occasions. Outside of these wishes, it’s still the Best Christmas List App that I’ve seen to date. I also appreciate the fact that it has a “clean” look without too much “Christmas” decoration (ie. tacky clipart).

You can get The Christmas List App here from the iTunes.


Be sure to check out 2014 Holiday Gadget Gift Guide for ideas:


Facebook Groups

The New Facebook Groups App


When a company decides to break out functionality from it’s main app into a new separate app I keep my fingers crossed that they did so to make that functionality better and easier to use. For example, the Facebook Pages Manager is pretty good. I use it daily to interact with my Facebook fan pages. Also I’m one of those few that didn’t have a problem with the separate Facebook Messenger App. However, with the latter a case could be made that there was really no reason to break out the Messenger functionality. On the other hand I rarely use the Facebook Mentions App as I don’t see really anything that I can’t simply do in the Facebook Pages Manager App. That brings us to the latest Facebook App, Facebook Groups. As you might have guessed, the Facebook Groups app is designed to allow you to interact with the Facebook Groups that you are a part of. With the Facebook Groups App you can easily see which groups you are a part of and more easily jump between them to see and make new posts. You can add members to the group. You can approve new member requests for the closed groups as well as easily change the group’s settings such as name and description, the cover photo, privacy as well as leave a group that you were added to that you really don’t want to be a part of or ones that you no longer have any interest in. You can also search for groups to join. In other words it does the things you would expect from a new app designed to work with Facebook Groups, but that’s about it.



There are no features that made me say, “that’s cool!”. Also it would be have been nice to have an iPad version. If you work with Facebook groups on a regular basis, then you’ll want this App simply because it makes accessing your group easier than within the Facebook App.
You can get the Facebook Groups app for free here iTunes.



Gyft - Buy Gift Cards, Send, Manage, & Earn Rewards. Upload Gift Cards to our Mobile Gift Card Wallet

Use Apple Pay in the Gyft App to Buy Electronic Gift Cards


As much as I love the thought that someone can put into a gift, I’m also just as happy (if not more so) to receive a gift card to one of my favorite stores. It really hard to go wrong these days giving someone a gift card (unless perhaps it’s your significant other and they’ve been dropping hints for 6 months that you haven’t picked up on. What’s wrong with you?). I reviewed the Gyft app a long time ago when it first appeared on the App Store and I’ve had it installed ever since then. I love that even if someone gives you a physical gift card that you can enter it into the Gyft App and display it on screen at checkout time. I used this at P.F. Chang’s and it worked great. The waitress was able to just scan the barcode right on my iPhone’s display. This has saved me on occasion when I have forgotten to bring the physical gift card to the store. The Gyft app has gotten several updates over the years, but this last update brings Apple Pay to the table. If you have an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus or above, you now have one more option to pay for the gift cards that you buy within the app. Now you can browse the various gift cards available, pick out the one you want to give, pay for it with Apple Pay and send it to the recipient electronically. Along with Apple Pay support you can also use Touch ID to access your Gyft Card wallet.


I guess my only complaint is that while you can choose from hundreds of retailers in one spot, there are still some that are missing. For example, there is no way to buy an “Apple Store” gift card in the app. You can however buy an iTunes Gift Card. I know that Apple was the exclusive reseller of their gift cards for a long time, but recently I saw them available in my local Kroger. While you may not be able to find every retailer in this App I’m pretty sure that you’ll be able to find a few that you would choose from.

Now you can avoid that embarrassing situation where you were supposed to get a gift but you’ve already arrived at the party. At least you’d be able to say “check your email” 😉 Even if you don’t have an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus you should get this app. You can always pay with one of the other options.


You can get the Gyft App here from the iTunes.



TGI Black Friday 2015

The Only Black Friday App You’ll Need


Each year I typically rely on two to three Black Friday Apps to check out the deals. However, this is “BEST” App Site, not best three app site. So I decided to act as if I could only have one Black Friday app installed on my devices and it turns out that TGI Black Friday 2014 was my favorite choice for Best Black Friday App. It won me over based on the overall look and feel of the app. An integrated search feature and the fact that it’s a Universal App for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. You can look at the store ads. You can browse by category or if you’ve got your heart set on specific items you can search for them to see if anyone has them on sale or who has them at the best price. Once you see something you like you can add it to your shopping list in the app. There are also coupons and push notifications.


Don’t wait, download the TGI Black Friday App here from the iTunes.

Also be sure to check out my 2014 Holiday Gadget Gift Guide here.


iWatermark+: Watermark your photos in the iOS 8 Photos App


I usually like to have a visual watermark on my photos before posting them to social media. If I’m coming from Lightroom on the desktop no problem, I can export the photos as JPGs with the watermark nicely displayed. However, there are times when I’m either taking the photo with my iPhone or accessing an unwatermarked version via Dropbox or an album in the native Photos app. For years I’ve relied on iWatermark to allow me to easily put my logo on my images right on my iPhone or iPad. However, the newly released iWatermark+ takes this process to a whole new level.

iOS 8 brings “Filters” to the table for the native Photos app

Now that 3rd parties can add filters to the native Photos app in iOS 8, we get to experience many more options without having to leave the Camera Roll/Photos App. We can access better image editing tools and more features that 3rd parties offer in their apps. iWatermark+ can be used in a stand alone fashion as always, but now it can also be used as a filter to in the built-in Photos app for iOS 8. Woohoo! This speeds up my workflow considerably. Now instead of having to launch the iWatermark app each time I want to watermark a photo I can simply do it right in the Photos app where the image already resides. Once you configure the iWatermark+ App with the watermark you wish to use (in my case a PNG file of my logo), you can then just bring up any photo in the Photos app, tap Edit to edit it and tap the Filter button (the circle with the 2 dots in it) and choose iWatermark+ as one of the filters. It remembers the last one you used and more importantly where it was placed on the image. The best part is just like any other Edit in the Photos App, this is a non-destructive change. You can always revert the photo back to its “unedited” state to remove the watermark at any time.

But wait, there’s more…

If I left here I’d be quite happy with this app, but it does so much more that I have to remind myself that it’s not just about a logo. With iWatermark+ you can choose between 6 different watermark types. You can use text, a graphic, a signature, a QR Code, metadata (awesome for those photos where the metadata was stripped away) or steganographic. You can use multiple watermarks as well as watermark several photos at once in batch. You can position the watermark anywhere you like as well as control the size and opacity. Once you watermark your photo(s) you can share it right from the app to Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, Twitter, the Camera Roll, Email or the clipboard.

The Bottom Line

While visual watermarks don’t necessarily protect your photos from being used without your permission they do add a level of branding and identity to your images that you are posting. It’s also away of promoting yourself if that cat photo you just took goes viral. :-) Watermark your photos with ease with this app!

You can get iWatermark+ for your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch here from the iTunes.

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