The best tech gifts aren’t gadgets

My favorite holiday tech gift doesn’t require batteries or software updates. It’s not even a device, even though it’s made of technology.

Can you guess what it is?

A few years ago, my wife experimented with an iPad and a digital stylus to create digital illustrations. Use Create, a drawing app, she uploaded a photo of our beloved corgi, Max, as a reference to follow before embellishing the image with a polka dot bow and a long tongue cartoon. I liked it so much that I chose a background color that matched our house and uploaded the illustration to the app Keepsakea printing service that assembles your photo into a beautiful frame before delivering it to your door.

A large framed portrait of Max now hangs as a centerpiece in our living room in all its two-dimensional glory. It makes me smile and is always the one to start the conversation when we have guests in. That’s more than I can say about the other tech gifts I’ve received over the years, such as video games and smart speakers, which provide only brief pleasure.

This type of gifting exercise — tech-related gifts that don’t involve hardware or mindless Best Buy gift cards — can be especially welcome this year. That’s because we live in an era of scarcity caused by a pandemic global chip shortage and the supply chain disruptions that have created Ordinary gifts are hard to buy. (Anyone who’s tried to buy a console in the past year understands the pain.)

So here’s a list of tech gift ideas we can give without actually buying tech stuff, from gifts you can create to experiences that will last a lifetime.

Last week, I told a friend that I have a special gift for her: I’m going to fix her iPhone.

She complained to me about her 5 year old iPhone SE. The device can no longer take pictures or install software updates because almost all of its data memory has been used up.

So, before she went away for Thanksgiving, I met her for lunch and walked her through the process of backing up photos to an external drive before deleting all pictures from the device. Then I plugged her phone into the computer to back up all her data before installing the new OS.

She was delighted when this problem was fixed before her trip. Now she can take a lot of pictures on vacation. In addition, the new Apple software update includes a tool to add digital vaccine card to iPhone wallet appwhich makes vacation travel a little less stressful during the pandemic.

For those who are a bit tech-savvy, this might be a sample. Listen to your loved one’s complaints about their technology and offer the gift of solving the problem. If it’s a slow Wi-Fi connection, see if you can Diagnose problems to increase speed. If it’s a short-lived phone battery, consider taking them to a repair shop to have the battery replaced for a small fee.

In some ways, this defeats bringing in a brand new device as it saves them the hassle of learning how to use a new piece of technology.

In addition to the digital illustration of my dog, there are many other ways we can use technology to create for friends and family.

First, I’m a fan of picture books that can be easily created with web tools. A few years ago, a colleague’s Secret Santa gift to me was a calendar she made using Google’s photo book service. She created it by taking photos from my dog’s Instagram account and compiling them into a calendar – each month is a different photo of Max taken next to a gift my wife and I cooked. I was delighted.

All in all, photo printing services offer great ways to turn digital photos into keepsakes in the form of old photos, large prints, and even mugs and Christmas decorations. (Wirecutter, our sister publication of product reviews, tested two dozen photo printing services and mark its favorites.)

Before the pandemic hit our lives, my wife bought a DSLR, a digital camera used by professionals, with the aim of learning more about digital photography. Then the lockdowns happened, the vacation became the motel, and the camera ended up just sitting in a drawer.

My plan for a holiday gift for my wife is a two-hour digital photography lesson with a photo studio in San Francisco that takes students for a walk across the Golden Gate Bridge while teaching the Basic knowledge of photography. (Hopefully she doesn’t read this column.)

What do your friends and family want to learn? We have plenty of options for potential gifted classes, as the pandemic has prompted many teachers to offer virtual instruction online, including cooking lessons and workout routines. The gift of knowledge goes a long way and sometimes pays off, like when the recipient of online cooking lessons uses that newfound knowledge to cook you dinner.

The pandemic may expose us to more usage than we can imagine in terms of longevity, so a great gift this year could be anything that makes us feel better. don’t pay attention to technology.

It could be renting a cabin in an area with no cell service, tickets to a play, winter hikes and picnics – anything that gives us a break after coming back. inevitable screen. The best tech gifts aren’t gadgets

Fry Electronics Team

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