Holiday Gift Guide: iPhone Apps for the Home
Welcome to TUAW's 2011 Holiday Gift Guide! We're here to help you choose the best gifts this holiday season, and once you've received your gifts we'll tell you what apps and accessories we think are best for your new Apple gear. Stay tuned every weekday from now until the end of the year for our picks and helpful guides and check our Gift Guide hub to see our guides as they become available. For even more holiday fun, check out sister site Engadget's gift guide.
The iPhone is an integral part of most people's online life. They use it to check email, chat with friends on Facebook, tweet with followers and so on. It only makes sense to use the iPhone around the house, too. You can manage grocery lists, track chores or use the iPhone as an emergency remote when the original is lost somewhere in the couch cushions. If you have a homebody on your Holiday gift list, you should check out some of these popular iPhone apps for the home.
Grocery Gadget ($3.99)
Grocery Gadget is a full-featured shopping list program that lets you create a shopping list and assign it to a store. You can also add details like price, tax, category, aisle in the store and brand information. You can also take a picture to identify the product or scan a bar code to grab the product information. The app has an online component that'll let you manage the list and sync it between devices.
Allrecipes Dinner Spinner Pro ($2.99)
Dinner Spinner Pro is a whimsical app from Allrecipes.com that lets you spin your way to a recipe for your next meal. The app lets you select some basic meal information like dish, ingredient and prep time to find a new recipe. You can also spin the categories and pull up some random recipes. It's a fun app that'll tie into your Allrecipes account if you purchase the $2.99 pro version.
Pocket Money ($4.99)
Pocket Money is an excellent checkbook for the iPhone, iPad and the Mac. The app has all the basic features you would expect to find in a finance app, including split registers, support for a variety of account types, budgeting and reports. You can sync your accounts between multiple iOS devices and your Mac desktop.
BillMinder is an app to track your bills and alert you before they are due. It's a full-featured app that supports recurring bills, categories and reports. Like so many other apps, it syncs between iOS devices and has a cloud storage option to back up your bills. I wished I had used that backup option before I lost all my bills in an update-gone-awry that wiped my device. BillMinder also links to Pocket Money, so you can mark a bill as paid in BillMinder and automatically enter it in your Pocket Money account register.
Box it Up (Free)
The last time I moved a few years ago, I used sharpies to mark my boxes and a paper list to keep track of each box's contents. If I was moving today, I could use Box it Up to track my packing progress instead of the cumbersome pen and paper method. The inventory app is simple to use. You create a box, specify a room and start adding items to it. The app includes a search function, so you can easily find the box in which an item is stored. This feature is very helpful during the unpacking process. You can also backup the list to Dropbox or send it as PDF via email.
Home Inventory Photo Remote and Mobile Backup (Free)
Home Inventory is a cross-platform solution for keeping track of your valuable possessions. It has a desktop component (available in the Mac App Store for $9.99) that you can manage with your Mac. There's also a companion Photo Remote app for the iPhone that'll let you take photos and enter basic details about the items in your house. Think of it as your inventory scanning device. There's also a mobile backup app that stores your inventory list on the iPhone. Both of these companion apps are available for free.
Delivery Status ($3.99)
Delivery Status is a package tracking app that'll help you monitor items are they are in transit The app supports USPS, UPS, Fedex and more. It'll even pull in tracking information from your accounts with Amazon, Apple and Adobe. If you setup a June Cloud account, you can update your tracking numbers via a web browser, or sync the tracking information with other iOS device and the company's Dashboard widget for the Mac.
Cozi Family organizer (Free)
Cozi Family organizer is a cloud-based app that let a busy family share a calendar, manage shopping or to-do lists, and contribute to a family journal using their iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. The app gathers a lot of information together and presents it using a polished UI. It's also one of the first FlyLady approved organizers, which may be important to those folks who follow her anti-CHAOS system of cleaning.
If you're tired of the traditional piggy bank for your kids, then you need to check out iAllowance. It's a virtual piggy bank that you manage on your iPhone. The app keeps track of multiple banks for your children and manages the chores they do to earn their
keep funds. Besides money, you can also dish out rewards for a job well done. You can also sync between devices and upload the data to Dropbox as a backup.
Air Video ($2.99)
Air Video is a video streaming app that lets you stream AVI, DivX, MKV and other video files to your iPad or iPhone. It converts the videos on the fly into a format your iOS device supports. If you have an Apple TV, you can even use AirPlay to pass the Air Video stream from your iPad to your HDTV. On the Mac, some of Air Video's functionality is replaced by AirPlay, but it's still useful for large video libraries that are encoded with unusual codecs or files that reside on a Windows machine. I have an older Windows-based home theater PC that now serves as a media server powered by Air Video.
Sonos App (Free)
Sonos makes a popular wireless speaker system to fill your house with music. In its simplest form, it uses a Zone Bridge that plugs into your router and lets you stream your iTunes library to every room that has a speaker. You can stream the same content to all your speakers or setup zones and stream one song to your living room and another to your basement. The best part is that you can control this system remotely using an iPhone. We recently reviewed the Play:3 wireless speaker system, which, at $299, is one of Sonos's less expensive models.
Mobile Mouse Pro ($1.99)
Mobile Mouse Pro is for home theater PC owners who wants to use their iPhone as a mouse. It uses the accelerometer to track your hand motions and translate them into mouse movements on the screen. Users need to install the Mobile Mouse server on their HTPC.
Roku Remote/ Logitech Remote/Apple Remote (Free)
The App Store is filled with remote applications to help you control your home entertainment system. You can use them to replace your remote or as a backup for when you can't find them. I use the Apple remote all the time for the Apple TV. It'll work to control your Mac, if you have IR enabled.
Point and Measure ($1.99)
Point and Measure is an app that'll turn your iPhone into a measuring tape. It's fantastic for those smaller home improvement projects that require you to make a lot of measurements. It's easy to use and fairly accurate once you take the time to calibrate it and learn how to use it.
Total Connect and Total Connect Comfort (Free)
Honeywell has a series of home security and home comfort systems that you can use to automate your house. The company has introduced two mobile apps to help you control the system remotely. The Total Connect Comfort app lets you control your cooling and heating system while you are at home or traveling. You can change the temperature of different zones in your house, view the humidity level and retrieve system information via email. Honeywell also has a Total Connect app that ties into your security system. It keeps an eye on your property and will alert you of any movement or changes in your location. The app is free, but it requires a monthly Total Connect service fee.
IP Cam Viewer Pro ($3.99)
Many people don't want the complexity of a full-fledged security system, and choose to install several security cameras around their house instead. Of course, you'll want to watch them remotely and one of the best apps to do this is the IP Cam Viewer Pro for the iPhone. The app lets you pan, tilt and zoom the camera and listen to the incoming audio. You can also send audio if your camera supports this feature. If you see an intruder, you can start recording and capture the crime as it happens.
Software Updatesmore updates
- Apple Remote Desktop updated with Yosemite support
- OS X Yosemite 10.10.2, iOS 8.1.3 updates now available
- Sports Illustrated 120 SPORTS channel comes to Apple TV
- Logic Pro X update brings AirDrop support, new effects, tools, and more
- Parallels Access 2.5 released, adds file manager, computer-to-computer remote access
- The Google Translate iOS app is about to get a lot smarter