The Best Tech Gifts That Aren’t Gadgets – The New York Times

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

Can you guess what it is?

A few years ago, my wife experimented with her iPad and a digital stylus to make digital illustrations. Using Procreate, a drawing app, she loaded a photo of our beloved corgi, Max, as a reference to trace over before embellishing the image with a polka-dot bow tie and a cartoonishly long tongue. I liked it so much that I picked a background color that would complement our home and uploaded the illustration to the app Keepsake, a printing service that assembles your images in a nice 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 a conversation starter when we have guests over. That’s more than I can say about other tech gifts that I’ve received over the years, such as video games and smart speakers, which only brought short-lived joy.

This type of gifting exercise — tech-adjacent presents that don’t involve hardware or thoughtless Best Buy gift cards — may be especially welcome this year. That’s because we are living in a pandemic-induced era of scarcity driven by a global chip shortage and supply chain disruptions that have made conventional gifts difficult to buy. (Anyone trying to buy a game console for the last year understands this pain.)

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

Last week, I told a friend I had a special present for her: I would fix her iPhone problem.

She had complained to me about her five-year-old iPhone SE. The device could no longer take photos or install software updates because nearly all of the device’s data storage was used up.

So before she left for her Thanksgiving vacation, I met her for lunch and walked her through the process of backing up photos to an external drive before purging all the images from the device. Then I plugged her phone into a computer to back up all her data before installing the new operating system.

She was thrilled to have this problem fixed before her trip. She can now take lots of photos on vacation. Plus, a new Apple software update has a tool to add a digital vaccine card to the iPhone’s wallet app, which makes holiday travel slightly less stressful in the pandemic.

For those who are somewhat tech savvy, …….


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