Shopping this year through iPhone and iPad apps is significantly more convenient thanks to Apple Pay and Touch ID. The latest iPhones and iPads allow you to avoid the arduous process of re-entering your credit card information each time at checkout and instead pay for your purchase with the touch of your finger.
The Apple Store app has received a face lift or two since last year, especially the iPad version which now looks more like the revamped online store, but all of those changes don’t stop at the surface. Since the release of iOS 8.1, the payment process for shoppers has been streamlined with Apple Pay support for the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad mini 3, and iPad Air 2.
If you’ve already setup Apple Pay on your compatible device, you can use the payment option at checkout to complete your purchases either for in-store pickup or through shipping. The Apple Store app for iPhone also doubles as a checkout method at the Apple Store for many off-the-shelf items allowing you to pay with your phone without having to wait around for someone to be available before checking out.
It’s also not a bad way to find gift ideas for people with categories including connected home, car and travel, HealthKit, toys and hobbies, and much, and it can help you locate your closest Apple Store if you’re on the hunt.
Apple is currently offering free two-day shipping for in-stock items ordered before 5 pm EST each day.
Finally and maybe most convenient, you can even buy and send both Apple Store and App Store/iTunes/iBooks gift cards directly from the app. Apple Store gift cards to be used in the store or online can range from $25 to $2,000 and be sent by email or physical mail. App Store gift cards can be sent by mail including personal gift messages with $25, $50, and $100 options, all with Apple Pay as an option at checkout.
Amazon.com for me is home to where most of my online shopping exists, and the Amazon app for iPhone and iPad is essential for holiday shopping. While you can use the mobile version of Amazon for pricing out your purchases and filling up your shopping cart, the dedicated app includes a few extra features like push notifications for delivery status updates and the ability to search with your voice or even using your camera.
While the app doesn’t support Apple Pay at checkout, current Amazon customers can make instant purchases with 1-click checkout enabled, and in some cases you can even have Amazon handle the gift wrapping for you for a price. You can also scan the barcode of other products when you’re shopping to discover Amazon’s prices for items you may be buying.
While Target doesn’t accept Apple Pay in its retail stores, it does have a very nice iPhone app for shopping that supports the faster checkout method with options for picking up purchases in stores. You can browse your store’s local ads with links to discounted products right in the app and access mobile coupons for using in the store through Passbook.
Once you add items to your cart, you can check out with Apple Pay as your payment option and verify your purchase using Touch ID. (Initially, Target only supported using Apple Pay for one item at a time, but a recent update added cart support as well.) In-stock items can be picked up at your local store or you can choose shipping options for online-only products. Target is also offering free shipping on all of its items (with the exception of oversized items) for a limited time to make holiday shopping easier.
The Disney Store supports Apple Pay both at its retail stores and through its iPhone app, and if you’ve got kids on your list of people to shop for, it’s probably essential for buying the right gifts this year.
In addition to supporting Apple Pay at checkout for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus users, the Disney Store app allows you to browse products by Disney characters by picking movies including Frozen, Big Hero 6, Star Wars, The Avengers, and more. You can also browse products from the app in categories for boys, girls, babies, and adults.
Finally, the app features a holiday shop section for picking out Disney-themed decorations, pajamas, and more, and a dedicated gift guide section presents popular items and breaks gifts down by prices in sections under $50, under $100, and over $100.
If you’ve looking to leverage the convenience of Apple Pay during your holiday shopping this year, you’ll also want to check out the Staples iPhone app.
While you may think of the retail chain as somewhere to go for your office supply needs, Staples also carries a range of consumer electronics including gaming consoles like the Xbox, iPhone accessories, iPads and iPad accessories, Beats headphones and speakers, and more.
Staples also supports paying with your iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus in its retail locations using Apple Pay.
Whether you’re offloading old technology or shopping for a deal, you’ll want to have the eBay iOS app around this season. If you’re selling an old iPhone, iPad or anything else, the eBay app allows you to create a listing in seconds by scanning the barcode on the product packaging. Not to mention it’s the best way to keep up with bids and execute savings from price drops you spot from eBay coverage on 9to5Toys.One hitch: you won’t find any Apple Pay support just yet.
Groupon’s iOS app, which “delivers unbeatable deals for 50—70% off the best stuff to do, see, eat, and buy in more than 500 cities located mostly on earth”, is a great place to shop if you’re looking for out-of-the-box gift ideas at a discount. For me, a quick browse recommended a local dolphin tour on a boat, admission for four at the local battleship museum, and a discounted kayaking trip for two, all of which you can buy directly in the app with Apple Pay using your thumbprint to authorize the purchase.
Fancy is another great app for recommending purchases and gift ideas and it totes Apple Pay support for fast checkout without having to create an account or enter payment or shipping information. From fashion to electronics to furniture and art, Fancy presents a wide range of products making it more likely that you’ll find that out-of-the-box gift idea for someone you’re shopping for, and it doesn’t hurt that you can check out with Apple Pay. I used Fancy with Apple Pay last month to order a gift for a family member, and the packaging included stickers and some cool branding too.
Apple retired iPhoto and its photo printing capabilities on iOS 8, but if you’re looking to order digital prints of your photos and pay with Apple Pay, Print Studio is worth checking out. Print products include simple prints, photo books that you create right from your iPhone and have delivered to you, framed prints at various sizes, photo magnets, photo strips and posters, greeting cards, photo buttons, and more.
Shipping in the United States is a $6 flat rate with free US shipping on orders over $50, and $12 flat rate for international orders. Print Studio says shipping in the US takes 3-10 business days with international shipping spanning 1-4 weeks. For last minute photo printing and quick card making, I’ve used the Walgreens app with pickup options within an hour or so, and the drug store chain also supports Apple Pay at checkout.
You can’t do online holiday shopping without accumulating a long list of packages to track, and Deliveries has added some really great feature since this time last year, namely a dedicated Mac app. You’ll also find Notification Center widgets from each version of the app.
So how does Deliveries work? Once your online order ships, you can grab your tracking number of drop it in the Deliveries app. Deliveries will do the rest, updating you at the status of your shipment changes. It’s also rather useful when mailing shipping gifts off to family and friends and ensuring they arrive on time securely.
With a few more weeks of holiday shopping left, these apps for iPhone, iPad, and Mac should help you successfully pull off your gift buying this year. And be sure to check out our holiday gift guides for our gift recommendations and 9to5Toys.com for the latest deals on everything this year.