Best iOS apps for holiday shopping and gift giving

We’re in the thick of the holiday season and that means lots and lots of gift buying for our family and friends. I’ve been using a number of apps on my iPhone and iPad to smooth out this year’s gift buying experience. Check out my app recommendations below…

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Apple Store

This first app seems obvious on the surface, but I can’t tell you the number of times that friends and family have asked me how to get a product in stock at an Apple Store without gambling on its availability and been saved by this app.

The Apple Store app allows you to easily see product availability for many items and have them reserved for you when you arrive at the store. It also breaks down when you need to order specific items in time for holiday shipping.

While the Apple Store app is primarily for iPhone users, Apple recently added an iPad-optimized version to its catalog, but the iPhone version currently offers more functionality. Apple is also giving away a free holiday playlist for US customers in its Apple Store app this week.



Apple recently made iPhoto (along with a number of other apps) free for new device owners, and with that change came a number of new features borrowed from the desktop software. iPhoto now allows you to order 8×8 inch or 10×10 inch hard cover photo books as well as a number of custom size photographs including auto-sized panorama prints. These gifts can be highly personalized and sentimental, and they’re surprising affordable for the quality Apple provides.

iPhoto for iOS is compatible with iPhone and iPad and offers a number of editing and sharing features as well. If you haven’t purchased a new iOS device recently, you will notice the app is still $4.99 in the App Store.


Amazon/Amazon Santa

Amazon is becoming more and more of a staple in my holiday gift buying routine, and now with its iPhone and iPad apps designed with iOS 7 aesthetics, using the apps to manage wish lists and track orders is absolutely delightful.

Amazon allows you to create specific wish lists and even share them with friends and family to make holiday shipping that much easier. Amazon even has a ‘Santa’ app geared toward making shopping for kids even easier.


Delivery Status

Delivery Status is probably my favorite app among this list. While Amazon can track your purchases fairly well and notify you after packages are delivered, Delivery Status offers much more granular updates along the way.

The app is particularly useful as it centralizes shipment tracking from UPS, FedEx, USPS, and more all in a single app. It syncs data between iPhone and iPad using iCloud, or you can use its native syncing solution and also sync with its OS X Dashboard widget.

For me, Delivery Status relieves a great deal of anxiety as shipments tend to get a little crazy over the holidays. It doesn’t hurt that the app is so well designed.



We recently reviewed Clear+, which brought the fun list app to the iPad for the first time, and I’ve really been enjoying it since then.

While it originally debuted on iPhone and later on the Mac, I’ve found the iPad version particularly useful for managing lists of gift ideas and gift I’m positive I need to buy. This is made easy on the iPad interface as it allows you to drag and drop items between lists.



As always, check out the fantastic work at our sister site 9to5Toys for great deals on all the best gifts for the holidays including gift cards, games and apps, hardware, and more.


Those are my favorite tools for holiday shopping on iOS this year. Let us know in the comments which apps you find most useful for your holiday gift giving this year!

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  1. With all of the promotional emails, especially around the holidays, a good email app is essential for tracking deals from your favorite places. I recommend checking out the MailDeck email app for iPad. It has some nice viewing modes for HTML emails, auto sorts your promotional items for you, and allows you to create folders so you can set aside the emails that you want to follow up on.

  2. Rately (@rately) - 9 years ago

    Another helpful app is Rately Shopper, which tracks your shopping, lets you create tags and lists, and even offers recommendations! It’s free for iPhone/iPad in iTunes here:

    Thanks for the tips – great apps!


Avatar for Zac Hall Zac Hall

Zac covers Apple news for 9to5Mac and hosts the 9to5Mac Happy Hour and 9to5Mac Watch Time podcasts.