If you have any Apple iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch owners on your holiday shopping list, there are a wide range of accessories and add-on products they'll truly appreciate, priced anywhere from $10 to several hundred dollars. You're sure to find something suitable and within your budget, and this article can help.
Apple iTunes Gift Cards
Available from Apple Stores as well as anywhere that sells gift cards, an Apple iTunes Gift Card can be redeemed when an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch user purchases music, music videos, TV show episodes, movies or audiobooks from iTunes; when purchasing apps from the App Store; for acquiring eBooks from iBookstore; or when obtaining digital editions of newspapers or magazines from iNewsstand. These gift cards can also be used for renting movies from iTunes.
iTunes Gift Cards are available in $15, $25, $50 or $100 denominations. They can also be purchased online from Apple's website and emailed to the recipient. Keep in mind, iTunes Gift Cards are different from Apple Store gift cards, which are only redeemable at Apple Stores for Apple products and accessories.
The benefit to giving an iTunes Gift Card is that the recipient can spend it on whatever iPhone- or iPad-related content they desire, but the value of the gift card does not have to be redeemed all at once. It's value is credited to the recipient's Apple ID account and can be used for content purchases over time.
Covers, Cases, Skins & Screen Protectors Make Great Gifts
Using a cover or case can help protect iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches from damage during use and while they are being transported or stored. Covers and cases come in a wide variety of styles and designs, and range in price from under $20 to several hundred dollars.
As you're shopping for cases or covers, it's important to know which model iOS device the recipient owns, as the design and dimensions of the various iPod touch models, iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4/4S, as well as the iPad and iPad 2 are slightly different.
By shopping online you'll discover a nice selection of designer and/or handcrafted leather cases that are both stylish and highly functional. For example, Sena offers a nice selection of well-designed and stylish leather cases for the various iOS device models. These iPhone cases from Sena range in price from $40 to $60 (with iPad cases and covers averaging a bit more), and offer a more professional or corporate image.
Saddleback Leather Company offers handcrafted leather cases for the iPad and iPad 2 ($104) that are extremely durable, stylish and well-designed.
If you're looking for more of a stocking stuffer, consider giving an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch user a protective and artistic skin, which will both protect and decorate their device. Skins are made from a thin protective film that attaches to the iOS device, but is easily removable. These skins come with many different graphic designs printed on them, or can be custom made using your own digital photos.
Skins, from companies like Decal Girl, SkinIt and Gelaskins, are priced starting at under $15. They nicely complement the optional clear screen protector films that fit over the device's screen which are used to help prevent dirt, scratches or cracks from damaging the device. Depending on what material the screen protector film is made from, they can also be used to reduce glares or offer privacy from people looking over the iPhone or iPad user's shoulder.
Protective screen films range in price from $15 to $40 and are available from a wide range of companies, like Zagg, BodyGuardz and 3M. They can be purchased online or from consumer electronics retailers like Radio Shack or Best Buy.
Stereo Headphone Allow iPhone & iPad Users To Truly Enjoy Music and Audio
The iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch all have a built in speaker. However, to truly enjoy the stereo audio that these devices generate, using optional stereo headphones allows for music, audiobooks and audio from TV shows and movies to be experienced privately and with much better fidelity than the tiny built-in speaker can provide.
Optional stereo headphones or ear buds range in price from under $10 to upwards of $300, depending on their quality. Anyone who travels by airplane often, or who uses their iPhone or iPad in a typically noisy environment, will truly appreciate headphone or ear buds that offer noise cancelling technology ranging between $100 and $300.
These headphones cut out background noise, like airplane engines and crying babies, and allow the user to experience home theater-quality audio from their iOS device. Companies like Bose, Shure and Brookstone offer noise reduction stereo headphones and ear buds that work perfectly with the iPhone or iPad. They too are available online or from consumer electronics retailers.
External Speakers Allow iPhone, iPad, & iPod touch Users To Fill A Room With Music
Instead of enjoying audio generated by an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch in private using stereo headphones, most iOS devices can easily be connected to external speakers that are capable of filling a room with high-quality music or sound.
External speakers that are compatible with the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch can be battery powered and portable, plus offer wireless Bluetooth connectivity. The Jambox from Jawbone ($19), is an example of a highly portable external speaker that's extremely powerful, and that can fill an entire room with clear stereo music or sound. The Big Blue Live Portable Speaker from Brookstone ($100) offers similar functionality in a highly-compact and battery-powered speaker.
iHome is one of many companies that offers a collection of desktop speaker systems that have built-in iPhone/iPad/iPod touch docks, allowing an iOS device to connect directly to the speakers using its Dock Connection port. You'll also find external speakers offered by companies like Brookstone and Bose.
Optional Battery Packs
As any iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch device user already knows, one ongoing challenge for people constantly on-the-go is keeping their iOS device charged throughout the day. An optional, rechargeable battery pack can be connected to an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch and extend the battery life of the device by two, three or four times, without having to plug it into an electrical outlet.
Many companies offer external battery packs for iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches. Some double as cases or stands, while others connect to the device via a cable or plug directly into the device's Dock Connector port.
For a good-quality external battery pack, plan on spending anywhere from $50 to $150. The Richard Solo 9000 ($70), for example, fits easily into a pocket, purse or briefcase when not in use. It plugs into the iOS device via a USB cable and works with an iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.
This battery pack weights just 10.2 ounces, and measures 3.76” x 1.57” x 1.57”. When viewing video on an iPhone, for example, it extends the battery life from about five hours to more than 65 hours, or will double the battery life of the iPad 2.
For someone who uses their iOS device for business applications, word processing, blogging or other tasks that require a lot of data entry, an external keyboard will be a welcome gift. Optional external keyboards for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch can either connect to the device via its Dock Connector port or wirelessly via Bluetooth.
Most external keyboards are portable. They're either smaller than a full-size keyboard (but still make typing on an iOS device faster and more accurate), or they fold (or roll) up for easy transport and storage. For the iPad and iPad 2, several companies also offer keyboards built into portfolio-style cases for the tablet, that also double as stands.
For both the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, the Verbatim Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard ($104) is almost a full-size QWERTY-style keyboard that folds in half when not in use. It operates using two “AAA” batteries, and connects wirelessly via Bluetooth.
The iON Audio iType Keyboard ($50) is a much smaller external keyboard that's wireless. It's designed to replace the device's on-screen virtual keyboard, and is ideal for people who have developed a talent for typing quickly using their thumbs.
Ranging in price from around $50 to $150, you'll discover a variety of external keyboard styles available from consumer electronics stores, Apple Stores and Brookstone stores, for example.
Make Phone Calls Easier Using A Wireless Bluetooth Headset
Ideal for any iPhone user, as well as iPad or iPod touch users who utilize apps like Skype for making calls or video conferencing via the Internet, a wireless Bluetooth headset allows for hands-free operation of the phone or tablet during conversations.
Not only is a wireless Bluetooth headset useful when using the iPhone to make calls while driving, it can also be used with the phone's multitasking capabilities, so someone can be engaged in a phone call and using another app at the same time.
There are hundreds of Bluetooth wireless headsets available for use with the iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. The trick is finding one with a long battery life, that offers superior audio, and that has a built-in microphone that cuts out ambient noise. For these features, plan on spending between $50 and $150.
The Jawbone Era and Jawbone Icon Bluetooth headsets ($99 -- $139) are among the best headsets made in terms of call clarity and design. They're also tiny and fit comfortably in the user's ear. Each models offers at least 4.5 hours of continuous talk time per charge or 10 days of standby time. The military-grade noise reduction technology cuts out ambient noise, allowing the person on the phone to be heard, even if they're in a noisy environment (such as walking down a city street with wind blowing).
More Unusual iPhone & iPad Accessories
For the fitness buff on your holiday gift list, there are many apps that can be used for health and fitness. Some of these apps, however, work with optional accessories, like heart rate monitors or other devices that connect to an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.
The UP Band by Jawbone ($99) is worn around the wrist and can be used to monitor the wearer's sleep, eating and activity habits, which tracking calorie intake, distances walked or run, and other activities. It works in conjunction with several fitness-related apps that come free with the Up Band.
For kids and teens, or anyone who enjoys playing games on the iPad or iPad 2, the iCade ($70) is a wooden, coin-op arcade-style, tabletop cabinet that the tablet fits into. It features a full-size joystick and game buttons, providing for an authentic arcade-like experience that works with dozens of different games (including Atari's Greatest Hits).
To help an iPad user learn how to play the piano, the Piano Apprentice Live ($249) is a combination musical keyboard, external speaker system and interactive app that offers virtual piano lessons. The company also offers Discover Guitar Live ($179), which can teach almost anyone how to play the guitar.
To transform your iPhone or iPod touch into a mobile DJ system (so you can entertain at parties) the Mobile DJ system ($249) is ideal. Meanwhile, for the holidays, Brookstone has released a handful of remote controlled toys, including cars, a hovercraft and a robot, that can be controlled wirelessly using an iPhone or iPad. Priced between $25 and $300, these remote control toys are suitable for kids and teens and available from Brookstone stores or online.
The Disney AppMATes ($20) are also tiny remote-control cars that can be controlled with an iPad or iPad 2. These toys are based on characters from Disney's Cars films.
Also for kids, the Disney Spotlight Digital Wireless Mic & Karaoke App ($100) comes with a karaoke microphone that plugs into the iPad 2, allowing users to sing and record audio and videos while enjoying 10 of their favorite Disney songs.