Earlier this week I shared by personal gift guide for the Apple fans in your life, suggesting products like iPhone cases, drones, HomeKit accessories, and much more. This time around, I’m sharing apps and products that will be greatly appreciated by the Apple-loving students in your life this holiday season…
Sylvania HomeKit Light Strip
As a student myself, I’ve slowly started to learn the perfect balance of how much technology is useful in education. You don’t want to become too dependent on it, but there’s definitely a middle ground at which you’ll be most efficient with your time.
My personal picks include a variety of hardware and software products that have become instrumental in my routine. They vary in price and will surely be appreciated by any student looking to make technology a component of their education. Read on as I break down the most useful technology, apps, and accessories to buy for Apple-loving students this gift giving season…
One of the biggest parts of my ritual inside and outside of class centers around the combination of the 9.7-inch iPad Pro and accompanying iPad Pencil. I’ve made it a habit to download any sort of PowerPoints and notes provided by professors prior to class and use the Apple Pencil and iPad Pro to follow along and annotate during class.
For classes where the textbook and readings are digital, the iPad Pencil is also useful for highlighting and noting of important information as I read.
Personally, I prefer the 9.7-inch iPad Pro to the larger 12.9-inch model, but students in design and other similar art programs may appreciate the larger model.
The iPad Pro and Apple Pencil are certainly an expensive investment, but one that has become integral to my routine. The iPad Pro 9.7-inch starts at $533 on Amazon, while the 12.9-inch model starts at $799. The Apple Pencil comes in at $95 on Amazon.
If the student in your life is going all-in with the iPad Pro, one of the best investments could be a keyboard. My personal pick for iPad Pro keyboard is the Logitech CREATE.
Logitech’s CREATE, available for both the 9.7-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro, features Smart Connector support, making the pairing process incredibly easy. Smart Connector Support also means that you don’t have to worry about charging the keyboard as it will simply pull power from the iPad itself.
CREATE also features backlit keys as well as a dedicated row of iOS function keys, and has a built-in fabric Apple Pencil holder to help you keep track of it.
Especially in college, you’re always on the go and finding an outlet is sometimes more challenging than some of your classes. For this reason, a backpack with a built-in power source could be one of the most useful purchases you make. Personally, I reccomend the TRAKK Fuel backpack.
The TRAKK Fuel backpack includes a built-in 7000mAh battery and built-in Lightning, and microUSB ports, as well as a USB port for charging other device types. The back is also durable, featuring a water-resistant and dustproof design, with shockproof build quality.
If a backpack with built-in battery power isn’t quite up your alley, or you want more power, you can never go wrong getting an always-on-the-go college student a battery pack. My personal pick is the Anker PowerCore 20100.
This model features 20,000mAh of battery life, which can charge an iPhone over 6 and a half times. It’s on the heftier side in terms of size, coming in at 356g, but you get quite a bit of power in that weight.
If you’re looking for a more portable option, the PowerCore 10000 offers 10,000mAh of battery life and comes in at half the size.
College kids love music and a solid, powerful Bluetooth speaker would without a doubt be a well-received gift. There are a variety of well-reviewed options on the market, but below are my personal picks at various price points:
- Small & affordable: UE Mini Boom – $39.99 refurbished
- Midsize: JBL Charge 2+ – $79.95
- Powerful: Bose SoundLink III – $269
- Runner up: UE MegaBoom – $248
- For all elements: UE Roll 2 – $95 or Bose SoundLink Color II – $129
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in college, you won’t always have time to run to Starbucks or make a pot of coffee before you head out. For me, this is mainly due to the fact that I can’t get out of bed early enough to do so. And that’s where the Keurig comes in.
Personally, I have the Keurig K55 model and it works perfectly for my use case. Though, Keurig does offer other models that offer various other features such as better interfaces and more water support.
Some of these products may seem a bit bland for a holiday gift, but fear not as there are certainly some more fun and exciting gifts you can get your college kid this year. Below are some of my personal picks:
- Grilled Cheese Cookbook
- Healthy & unhealthy snack packs
- Candles (because dorm rooms smell bad)
- Yeti Rambler
- Cards Against Humanity
- Speak Out
- Cuisinart 3-in-1 grill and panini press
- Apple TV
There are a variety of apps that are incredibly useful for students. Many can be bought with that inevitable iTunes gift card they’ll get this year, but some can also be purchased and gifted specifically from you to them.
As I mentioned before, I’ve become reliant on my iPad Pro + Apple Pencil setup for note taking and annotating. My go-to app for this has become GoodNotes 4, as I laid out earlier this year.
After trying most of the popular note-taking apps on the market, I found GoodNotes to be the most useful and feature-rich option available. You have the ability to create multiple notebooks – like one for each class or subject – and then create individual pages within each notebook with varying page styles
GoodNotes also indexes your notes, making them easy to search. The app even indexes your handwritten notes and annotations, making them searchable as well.
GoodNotes 4 is available on the App Store for $7.99.
Quizlet is an app and website that allows users to create flashcards and practice tests for anything imaginable. Whether it be creating a study guide for a pesky required blow-off class or creating flash cards for a chemistry exam, Quizlet can be very helpful.
Many teachers now take advantage of Quizlet as well and upload all of their study guides and vocab assignments directly to the service, making the process even easier for students. On the iPhone and iPad, Quizlet allows students to view flashcards and quiz themselves over the material. The app will also generate a practice test using the data you give it.
Quizlet on the iPhone and iPad is free, but many students like to upgrade to the Plus level, which gives them the ability to upload images, add voice memos, and makes the service ad-free. Quizlet Plus runs $15 a year.
Odds and Ends
If you’re looking for a few less exciting but still very useful gifts for your college kid, there are a handful of things I’ve found helpful. Even simple things like desk lamps and organizational tools can prove to be very useful in college.
- Aglaia Desk Lamp w/ USB port
- Tech Armor Complete Cleaning Kit
- Velcro Cable Ties
- Bluelounge CableBox
- USB-C to Lightning Cable
- Desk Mini-Fridge
- Belkin Base for Apple Pencil
- Joli Originals Leather cases/sleeves
For more holiday gift ideas, check out our other guides below:
- How to upgrade your holiday lights with HomeKit for Siri control and automation
- Apple Watch Gift Guide: best docks, bands, and active lifestyle accessories
- Gift Guide: Michael’s favorite wallet cases for iPhone
- Premium Wireless Audio Gift Guide: a sound choice for the music lovers in your life
- Gift Guide: Ben’s top picks for the gadget lovers in your life, from $6 to $1000
- Gift Guide: Benjamin’s top ten picks for best iPhone, iPad & Mac tech gifts any Apple user will love
- Gift Guide: Chance’s top products and accessories for Apple fanatics