The App Store on iOS 5 and below had an interesting feature I really used to love a lot, the ability to send your friends the gift of apps.

You’d just pick a piece of software in the App Store, hit the Gift This App button and Apple would send a nicely formatted email message to a lucky bastard along with a link to download an app, just like that.

With iOS 6, the feature was removed with seemingly no apparent reason. Now, app gifting has been available on desktop iTunes all this time. Fortunately, the company’s quietly updated iTunes backend to re-enable app gifting on iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices, just in time for the holidays…

As you can see from screenshots at the top, the process of gifting an app is pretty straightforward.

First, you need to launch the App Store app on your device then find an app you’d like to gift, either by searching for a specific software title or by browsing the many App Store sections.

Next, tap on the app to open its description card.

From there, hit the Share button in the upper right and up pops a grid of icons representing available sharing options.

Tap the “Gift” icon and fill in the details in the form.

You can pick the recipient from Contacts or type in an email address manually. Add the sender’s name (that would be you), type in a few nice words and optionally specify a desired delivery date at the bottom.

Here in the above example you can see I’m gifting Sebastien an app called iExit Interstate Exit Guide which will be delivered to his inbox on December 21.

Per usual, gifted apps can only be redeemed in the US App Store (why, Apple, why?) and the usual iTunes Gift Terms and Conditions apply.

Another thing this useful little addition teaches us is that Apple can update Share Sheets in iOS dynamically, over the web, without requiring a firmware update.

It goes without saying you can only gift paid apps. Keep in mind that all gift purchases are final and non-refundable, whether or not the recipient has redeemed your gift.

Users can also gift apps in desktop iTunes by going to the iTunes Store section and choosing the Gift This App option in a drop-down menu next to the Buy button, as depicted below.

Looks like Apple’s becoming more flexible with these digital gifts.

Last month, it updated the Apple Store shopping app with support for Passbook gift cards. And breaking away from its years-long practice of offering physical iTunes Gift Cards in $15, 25, $50 or $100 denomination, select retailers are now offering iTunes Gift Cards with custom denominations ranging from $15 to $500.

The way it works, you take the physical card to the cashier and choose how much to put on it. Upon validating, the amount paid is tied to the code on the card.

I just have one Christmas wish: let me choose a non-US App Store for app gifts because many of the friends that are dear to me happen to live abroad.

What are you waiting for?

Go ahead, give someone the gift of apps!

  • Falk M.

    “Here in the above example you can see I’m gifting Sebastien an app called iExit Interstate Exit Guide which will be delivered to his inbox on December 21.”

    Surprise = blown

  • Somewhat related – Why can’t store credit be used to purchase gifts? Never understood that.

  • Joeleo1937

    How come the gifting tab only works with some Apps? Ex. I can gift 360 panorama, but I can’t gift any of the pedometer Apps.
    Strange company this Apple. Control freaks to the max.

    • Falk M.

      Could it be that the other apps were free?
      You can’t gift free apps.

      • Joeleo1937

        No both were Apps I’d paid for and thought they were so good that I wanted to gift them.

      • Falk M.

        What are those apps so I can check out whether it works on my end.

      • Joeleo1937

        Pedometer gps ultimate.

      • Falk M.

        Is that one app?
        Or is it like “Pedometer” and “GPS Ultimate?

        App Store links would help a lot.

        Perhaps this?

      • Joeleo1937

        There are 3 versions 1, Pedometer, its free. 2 Pedometer Pro GPS, pay. 3, Pedometer Ultimate Gps, pay a little more than Ultimate.

      • Falk M.

        Not available in Germany… :S
        What’s. the other app?

      • Joeleo1937

        Ok all.. Here’s the deal. If you want to gift an App you purchased for yourself, you must sign out of iTunes. Go to the apps menu, get the app you want to gift, click on the arrow, and viola you can gift it.
        Took a while but I finally got someone at Apple that knew how to do it.
        Joe L

      • Falk M.

        What was the actual issue?
        That it didn’t finish the process or weren’t you even able to see the gifting icon?
        Because I can see it on items I purchased myself without logging out. :/
        Probably a bug that will eventually get fixed, seems to be a rare one if it wasn’t easy to get an Apple support guy who knows about it.

      • Joeleo1937

        There was no gifting icon. Once you purchase an app, iTunes lists it here in USA as downloaded instead of the price. Clicking on the arrow next to where the price is located does nothing unless you sign out of iTunes. Before I received the information, I tried to gift numbers which I own, nothing, couldn’t gift. I then went to an app that I had not purchased, but wasn’t free, nothing. As soon as I signed out, all apps could be gifted.
        BTW, I used my computer when I couldn’t get the iPad iTunes to gift. Even the I had to sign out. Maybe it’s a quirk here in the states?

      • Falk M.

        Ah ok, thought you meant on the iPhone.
        Didn’t test it on iTunes. :/

      • Joeleo1937

        What part of Germany? I was there a long long time ago. Stuttgart, and Mainheim. Army
        Joe L

      • Falk M.

        Cool 🙂

        I live in Kassel, that’s in the very middle of Germany.

  • It doesn’t seem to let you gift an app if you don’t have a credit card number on file. Even if you have credits from a gift card on the account.

    • Joeleo1937

      I have a credit card on file. Plus, I have $150.00 in gift card balance.