It’s that time of year. Christmas music, staff parties, plenty of egg nog, and gifts. As fellow iPhone users, what better gift is there to give each other than what we crave: more apps.

We could all probably name at least a few apps that we would like to have, but haven’t bought yet. How nice would it be to wake up on Christmas day and have that new app you’ve been wanting?

Luckily, Apple allows you to “gift” an app to a friend. If you didn’t know about gifting apps, I’m going to walk you through how to gift an app, along with some gift-giving tips…

You could always buy your friend an iTunes gift card, but gift cards only come in fixed amounts ($10, $20, etc.). It can be much more thoughtful and personal to give the certain app that a loved one has been wanting.

First, a of couple things to think about:

Make sure that the app you are giving will work on your recipient’s iDevice. For example, giving a camera app to an older generation iPod Touch is probably not the brightest idea. Also, make sure that the app you’re giving will run on your recipient’s firmware. If your mom is still running 3.2, chances are most apps won’t work. The same goes with newer apps that will only run on iOS 4.2. It’s always wise to check.

Second, realize that, if you’re sending your gifted app by email, your recipient will receive his/her gift the moment you send it (providing they check their email regularly). If you want them to not receive their app until a specific time (Christmas morning, etc.), you should probably wait until the last minute to press send.

You can gift an app straight on your iPhone, or in iTunes on your computer. I’ll show you how to do both.

For the purpose of this walkthrough, I’m going to give The Incident (an awesome game we recently reviewed) to my friend Steve.

On the iPhone:

Note: You can only gift an app through email on the iPhone. In iTunes you have an option to print a redeemable code and present it as a physical gift.

Step 1: Open up the App Store app on your iPhone and find the app you want to give.

Step 2: Scroll to the bottom of the app’s page and tap the “Gift This App” button.

Step 3: Sign into your iTunes account.

Step 4: Review the app you are sending, and read the disclaimer from iTunes. 

Step 5: Enter in your information, your recipients information, and a message to send along in the email.

Step 6: Review your order one more time, and send!

I also recommend sending a little text to give your recipient a heads up. Consider it the “card” to your virtual gift.

In iTunes:

Step 1: Find the app you want to give.

Step 2: Click the drop-down arrow next to the “Buy App” button, then click “Gift This App.”

Step 3: You will most likely be asked to sign into your iTunes account.

Step 4: You will be taken to the “Give a Gift” screen. Enter all of the appropriate information. You can select to send the gift via email, or print the code yourself.

Step 5: Review your order, and click “Buy Gift.”

You’re done!

Your gift will be automatically billed to your iTunes account and you will receive an email receipt just like a normal purchase.

If you want to go the extra mile:

There are a ton of ways that you can make something as small as an app meaningful to a loved one. Darrell over at theAppleBlog has a great article on tips for giving apps in creative ways.

For instance, if you’re giving someone a copy of Angry Birds you could also give them a plush toy or a themed iPhone case. You could even create ornaments with app icons and have the coupon code for the app inside the ornament. Get as creative as you want.

Giving apps can be a great last-minute gift idea. If you’re struggling to find all the presents you need for the holidays, consider giving a special app to that special someone.

Happy Holidays from the iDB team!

Tell us your stories of the apps you give over the holiday. Did you get creative?

  • no thanks because you do not want to be the cheapest person on this planet

  • Wselviz

    I have an american account but the person I want to give this app to has a Korean account… will this work if i wanted to give her an app?

    • Z

      I don’t think it will work

  • Mibjt

    @Wselviz: Tried Doing that. Got a friend in Thailand and I am in Singapore. Tried to send her that app but istore says she will only receive it if she is in singapore

  • Z

    It wouldn’t have been a bad present if you think of gifting an app like LogMeIn…

  • Lost in Iphone app land

    okay so I went through the steps above on 2 different apps and gifted them to my sister…2 days ago. She has still not received them, and my account has not been charged for them. Does that mean that they did not go through and I need to try again? Does the email she is supposed to receive come from my email or does it come from Apple / ATT? Help!

    Lost in Iphone app land…