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Can't Find The Perfect Holiday Gift? Swap Apps

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Can't Find The Perfect Holiday Gift? Swap Apps

Can't Find The Perfect Holiday Gift? Swap Apps

Can't Find The Perfect Holiday Gift? Swap Apps

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Still having trouble finding the perfect gift for the tech savvy folks on your Christmas list? Tech expert, Mario Armstrong, offers host Michel Martin some suggestions including smartphones and smartphone applications, commonly referred to as "apps."


Friendly reminder: There are just by, yes, five days before Christmas. If you're like me, you might not be done crossing off everybody from the gift-giving list this year. Well, if you're in a pinch, maybe a mobile phone or a smartphone application might be the way to go.

Here to help provide some guidance is commentator and host of the DIGITAL CAF´┐Ż on member station WYPR, Mario Armstrong.

Welcome back. Thanks for joining us once again.

MARIO ARMSTRONG: Hey. Thanks for having me on. It's my pleasure.

MARTIN: Well, when you were on the program last, we're talking about high-technology gifts.

ARMSTRONG: That's right.

MARTIN: I asked you, you know, is a high-tech gift something you can just give? Or do you really have to know the person well before you even think about going there?

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: Not to mention the cost. So the same thing - question with a phone. A phone seems kind of personal to me.

ARMSTRONG: Yeah, very much so, right? I mean, in America, we basically carry our wallets, our keys and a mobile phone with us. So it is very, very personal. And I think this is a great conversation, though, because it gives you the opportunity to buy, say, an application as a gift for someone that has a mobile phone. Maybe not buying them the mobile phone, because you really do need to find out what type of person are they. Do they use the Internet? Do they send a lot of text messages? And then you get into data plans and this, that and the other. So it could be a little confusing on which type of phone to purchase for someone, but I think it's great if you already know they have a smartphone, you could buy them, say, apps or other accessories for that phone.

MARTIN: Okay. I'm going to get into apps in just one second. But I did want to ask if you were courageous enough to go there and you really want to buy somebody a phone, how do you sort that out? You've got the iPhone, the Droid, the Blackberry. I mean, what do you do you to figure that out?

ARMSTRONG: First things first. First things first: their service provider. You don't want to switch them to a service provider. If they're happy with that service provider, you'll want to keep that. So then you're forced to choose from that selection. So, bottom line, if you're say a - you want to look for touch screen devices, I think, that are really, really good, unless you are used to a qwerty keyboard like on the Blackberrys. But I think the phones, by far, the Samsung line of phones are phenomenal phones. They look great on all of the different service providers. You can't go wrong. No one will be mad at you if you bring home one of the Samsung Galaxy phones to them from any of the carriers.

MARTIN: And I do want to emphasize that you do not get compensation for any of these recommendations. I just want to be clear on that.

ARMSTRONG: No. I appreciate that you explained my transparency.

MARTIN: You're not on anybody's dole.

ARMSTRONG: No. Absolutely. No.

MARTIN: Okay. All right. Now, talk about gifting apps. And I so hate to come across as an idiot. But how do you give an app?

ARMSTRONG: Well, no, this isn't - you're not being an idiot. Many people don't know that you can do this. But you can only do this, unfortunately, right now, on iPhone or iPad devices. Android and Blackberry do not have a mechanism set up to gift those applications just yet. So if you go to an iPhone or an iPad and you want to gift that person an app, you simply have to download the iTunes application - the software that you would normally download for music, and then you basically type in the search bar for the application you want to gift.

Click the application. Right beside on the right-hand side, there's a little drop-down arrow that most people don't see, Michel, and it says gift this app. And then you can gift the app one of two ways: You can either email it to someone, and it'll give them a redeeming code that they can then use on the website. Or you can actually print out the certificate yourself if you really want to wrap something or maybe put it in a card or something like that.

MARTIN: Well, you know, that was going to be my question. How do you wrap an app?

(Soundbite of laughter)

ARMSTRONG: Yeah. And not the hip-hop version of rapping an app, no. No, gift-wrapping an app.

MARTIN: Gift wrap that?

ARMSTRONG: So, yeah, the only way to do it is to print...

MARTIN: Roll it up into a little diploma, and put a little bow on it and stick it in the stocking.

ARMSTRONG: That's right. That's right.


ARMSTRONG: So you print it out. I did it. It really works well. It looks pretty, and it's a nice little thing that you could frame if you even want it to go that far.

MARTIN: How cute. Any apps that you particularly recommend, particularly for the three groups of people that we've been talking about: kids, college-age students or young adults or the working professional?

ARMSTRONG: Absolutely. Okay, so for kids I love - small kids, like I love "Build a Word." This is based off PBS series called WordWorld, which is super fun for kids. Basically, they take letters and make - spell words, and it makes the shape of that word. So the word dog, d-o-g, you put those letters together, and it turns into the shape of the dog. So it's great, a lot of fun, like 99 cents for that one.

A little bit higher-end for games, "Jumbalaya." Love this word game. Absolute addicted to this word game, as well as "Angry Birds." And then for the adults, real quick, and students, "Evernote." Now, this is a free application, but it's great for any of those kids that are doing a lot of research, or you're finding information online, or you're trying to create to-do list and organize yourself. A great application that syncs all of your information across multiple devices.

And then lastly, for the real business person on the go, "Documents to Go." Now this is a hefty app in terms of fees. It's $16.99. But this is like...

MARTIN: Sixteen?


MARTIN: Or six, zero? One, six?

ARMSTRONG: Sixteen - one, six.

MARTIN: One, six?

ARMSTRONG: $16.99. So this is a...

MARTIN: I think we can handle that.

ARMSTRONG: You can handle that?

MARTIN: I think so.

ARMSTRONG: It's an expensive app, though. Most apps are rounds 99 cents or a dollar.

MARTIN: Most apps are 99 cents?

ARMSTRONG: Yes. So don't look like a cheapskate. Buy your friend or family member multiple apps.

(Soundbite of laughter)

ARMSTRONG: Don't just buy one. Oh, you spent a whole 99 cents on me. Wow.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: Oh, no. We've really kind of messed somebody situation up right there. Okay, one other - any other stocking-stuffer ideas. If you're still on a game, if you don't want to risk the phone or the app, any other stocking stuffer ideas, really quickly?

ARMSTRONG: Yes. Yes., my favorite - these are gloves that pop off the thumb and the index fingers - the tips - so that you can touch your devices in the cold, when you put gloves in your mouth because you're trying to use your phone or touch devices. Freehands is really, really cool. And if you want to personalize your cases, go to Both of those are great stocking-stuffers.

MARTIN: So what are you getting me?

ARMSTRONG: I'm going to send you a pack of Freehands. I think that would really be good.

(Soundbite of laughter)


ARMSTRONG: Because you just got a touch-screen smartphone, too.

(Soundbite of gasp)

ARMSTRONG: You just moved into...

MARTIN: Mario, you just have to tell everybody everything, right?

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: Just make me look of lame as can be.

ARMSTRONG: We're transparent on this show.

MARTIN: Yes. Okay.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: Coal for you. You haven't worked your way out of the coal. Sorry.

ARMSTRONG: I'm still getting coal for that?

MARTIN: Still getting coal.

ARMSTRONG: I haven't been upgraded yet?


Mario Armstrong is a technology commentator.

ARMSTRONG: Maybe next year.

MARTIN: He's host of DIGITAL CAFE at member station WYPR. You still have five days. He's co-founder of the Urban Video Game Academy for Youth, and he was with us from his home office in Baltimore.

Mario, thanks.

ARMSTRONG: Thank you. And I'll fix that.

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