One of most common holiday gifts every year is an iTunes gift card. It seems that when people don’t know what to buy for a tech enthusiastic or a teenager, the go-to fallback is an iTunes gift card.

If you’re one of those people who received an iTunes gift card (or more than one) this holiday season, read on as I break down some of my favorite iOS apps to spend that budget on. If apps aren’t your thing, check out Apple’s “Best of” lists for some of the top music, movies, and tv…

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Dark Sky

My longstanding pick for a weather app on iOS has been Dark Sky. Not only does the app feature a clean and beautiful interface, the information it presents is insanely accurate. Dark Sky tells you, down to the minute, when you can expect rain, snow, sleet, or any other abnormal weather. Best of all, you can be alerted via notifications when the adverse weather will arrive.

There’s also support for viewing extended forecasts, as well as detailed radar images. Last but certainly not least, Dark Sky offers a very useful watchOS app and complication.

Dark Sky is $3.99 on the App Store.

Duet Display

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One of the more powerful iOS apps in terms of technological capabilities is Duet Display. This app allows you to use your iPad as a secondary display by simply connecting to your Mac via Lightning.

One of the things I’m most impressed with about Duet Display is the fluidity of content on the iPad. It’s really like the iPad is a fully capable secondary screen.

Duet Display is currently on sale for $9.99, but could change back to $19.99 at any time.

Tweetbot

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I’ve consistently recommended Tweetbot as my favorite iOS Twitter client. While the official Twitter app for iOS is gaining ground, Tweetbot is still a more fully-featured and stable client. Likewise, Tweetbot for Mac is far and away the best Twitter client you can get on macOS, blowing Twitter’s official app out of the water.

Tweetbot offers features like the ability to add notes to profiles, mute specific words, view multiple columns at once, and more.

Tweetbot for iOS is on sale for $4.99, as is Tweetbot for Mac.

RollerCoaster Tycoon

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Released just earlier this week, RollerCoaster Tycoon Classic has become one of my favorite iOS games. As someone who religiously played the games when they were available for the PC, the iOS client is modern enough to be enjoyable, but familiar enough to offer the nostalgic feeling.

You’re tasked with building and operating a profitable and well-liked theme park, building the wildest rollercoasters you can imagine. You hit a handful of obstacles along the way, though, so it’s certainly not easy.

RollerCoaster Tycoon Classic combines features from RollerCoaster Tycoon and RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 and is available for $5.99 on the App Store.

GoodNotes 4

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Earlier this year, I highlighted the best iOS apps to use for note taking, especially when paired with an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil and I personally came to the conclusion that GoodNotes 4 is the most powerful notes taking app out there.

The app offers support for creating multiple notebooks, indexing your handwriting for improved search capabilities, and pressure sensitivity.

GoodNotes 4 is available on iOS for $7.99 and macOS for $7.99.

Riptide GP: Renegade

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One of my favorite iOS games has gotten even better over the last year thanks to new gameplay features, a tvOS app, and more. Riptide, for those unfamiliar, is a water racing game franchise that features some of the best graphics you’ll find for iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV.

The latest version of the app, Renegade, includes a variety of new features. For instance, there’s a handful of new thrill-ride environments, transforming vehicles, and hydrogen riders.

Riptide GP: Renegade is available for $2.99 on the App Store.

Super Mario Run

Super Mario Run

It might be cliché to include this one because you’d have to have been living under a rock for the past week not to have heard of it, but here it is anyway. Super Mario Run is the first Mario game to come to iOS and quickly rocketed to the top of charts in terms of popularity.

Super Mario run is free but you’ll have to fork over $9.99 to unlock all of the levels of the game. If you’ve played Super Mario before, the iOS version will be very familiar. The “World Tour” mode takes you through 6 worlds with 24 brand new courses, each with a variety of obstacles.

Super Mario Run is available on App Store for free with in-app purchase.

Fantastical 2

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Easily the best calendar app on iOS and Apple Watch, Fantastical features a simple and easy to use interface, reminders, background app updating, and much more.

We’ve covered Fantastical extensively in the past and I continue to recommend it. You can import from other calendar services, sync between your various devices, and much more.

Fantastical 2 is available for $2.99 on iOS and $49.99 on macOS.

Day One Journal

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Day One Journal has long been one of the most popular iOS apps and if you haven’t invested in it yet, now is the time to. For those unfamiliar, Day One allows you to keep a daily journal, offering location support, 3D Touch, support for multiple images, and much more.

You can also lock Day One with Touch ID, export notes, and use an accompanying watchOS app.

Day One Journal is available on iOS for $2.99 through Christmas Day. On the Mac, it’s pricey at $29.99, but it’s definitely worth it.

Apple Music Subscription

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If none of these apps strike your fancy, you can always put that iTunes gift card towards an Apple Music subscription. Apple Music plans (in the United States) are as follows:

  • Single: $9.99/month
  • Family: $14.99/month
  • Student: $4.99/month

If you received an Amazon gift card, Best Buy gift card, or cash, check out our previous gift guides below for some ideas of things you could buy for yourself:

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