This is part two of our holiday gift guide for your Quartziest friends and relatives. Watch for new installments each day this week; collect them all here.
iPhone 5C or Galaxy S4? Nexus 7 or iPad Mini? Honestly, you can’t go wrong with any of them. The highest-end mobile devices available today will all serve you well. It’s the apps and accessories that can go either way. We dispensed with flimsy cases and tinny speakers to bring you a selection of truly useful gifts for anyone who computes on the go. These are pro tools for mobile pros.
The stylus is cool again
Pencil — FiftyThree — $59.95
Apple’s choice for best iPad app of 2012, the beautifully simplistic drawing tool Paper, now has an ingenious piece of hardware to go with it. Pencil is a stylus that works more like a pen or brush. You can use it with any touchscreen device, but the best features are reserved for putting Pencil to Paper: Stray marks by your palm are ignored; bending the tip draws broad strokes; the eraser actually works; etc.
Tablets are still not ideal drafting surfaces, but the folks at FiftyThree have done a lot to make the iPad feel like a more natural environment for creativity. Any artist—or, really, amateur doodler—in your life would appreciate Pencil’s promise. And they’ll actually look cool holding a stylus.
Every road warrior needs an assistant
TripIt Pro — Concur Technologies — $49/year
Any traveler worth her salt already has TripIt installed on her phone. It creates itineraries by reading confirmation email from hotels, airlines, etc., and magically pulling out the relevant information. The free version is impressive, but you can upgrade someone’s travels by getting her TripIt Pro.
The most useful premium features include push notifications for delays and other changes to your flight, alerts when a better seat becomes available, and a way to keep track of all your rewards programs in one place. And if you’re a boss, consider getting TripIt for Teams your employees; it’ll really be a present for yourself.
Never run out of steam
Juice Pack — Mophie — $55.95–$83.95
For trips, conferences, and other activities that drain your battery, wrap a Juice Pack around your phone. Choose from a variety of models for iPhones and some of the most popular Android phones: The thinner, lighter options carry less of a charge but are worth the tradeoff for all but the most aggressive battery abusers.
Mophie has been making these battery packs for longer than most rivals, and it shows. The cases are sleek and easy to use. You’ll probably end up keeping it on your phone even when the additional juice isn’t necessary.
Here are a few other products we like for mobile-heavy days:
- Karma WiFi Hotspot — Karma Mobility — $99
- Doxie Go + Wi-Fi (portable scanner) — Apparent — $219
Thwarting digital pickpockets
Stainless Steel Wallet — Stewart/Stand — $72
It’s the perfect gift for Edward Snowden: These wallets, passport holders, and other accessories by Stewart/Stand are made with stainless steel fabric that protects their contents from electronic spies. Increasingly abundant RFID chips, found in everything from Oyster Cards to American passports to European credit cards, can easily be sniffed for personal information—unless you have protection.
The fabric, surprisingly, feels more like silk than Brillo. It’s also lighter than a traditional leather wallet and, of course, can’t be stained (but can be scratched). Men’s accessories are the most popular and practical, but Stewart/Stand also sells stainless steel clutches for women with a paranoid streak.
Stylish, and no one has to know it’s dorky, too
Leather Touchscreen Gloves — Glove.ly — $95
Gloves that work on touchscreen devices have become a cliched stocking stuffer. But that’s not to say they aren’t a useful gift. You just need to raise the stakes a bit, and Glove.ly has kindly obliged with touchscreen-friendly gloves made of stylish sheepskin leather and a cozy wool lining.
There are no metal nibs on the fingertips of these gloves. Their capacitive capabilities are sewn into the leather for a look that’s more dashing than dorky. (Glove.ly also sells good-looking gloves made of cheaper fabrics that also work on touchscreens.) After a while, you won’t think twice when you’re taking out money from an ATM or snapping a photo with your phone and don’t have to expose your hands to the freezing air.