Review: iTunes 12 Days of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas Apple gave to me…
Another festive season is over, another twelve days of Apple giveaways complete. This holiday was the third year that the technology giant indulged in a little festive spirit with daily freebies via their ’12 Days of Christmas App’. For the past few years I’ve downloaded the app in the run-up to Christmas pretty religiously – eagerly expecting some great new games, a bit of different music or perhaps a nice film or iBook. As the app counted down to the start of the Apple-wrapped presents the anticipation built then at midnight on Boxing Day a cute, jingly tune played and the present on-screen revealed….some Coldplay. Live at the Itunes festival.

Not to knock Coldplay it’s not too bad a freebie. If you have the tunes already, the classics ‘Fix You’ and ‘God Put a Smile Upon Your Face’ were included, it is nice to hear them in a different version. But my immediate thoughts were – great, another promotion of Apple’s festival that I fail to win tickets to each year. Hopefully the next day would be a bit more interesting.  I switched off and waited.

But, Apple were clearly playing it safe this year. The range of music offerings was all decent from GaGa to Guetta, Coldplay to the Foo Fighters and a bit of One Direction. And fair enough you may say – Apple should be trying to please as many people as possible and with this quite mainstream range of music they probably would. But, it was nothing special, new or particularly interesting.

Music aside there were some great features this year – all the video content was absolutely brilliant. The Top Gear India Special and the pilots of House and 30 Rock were both pretty inspired. Sure, like the music these are popular and classics, but unlike the music they are a relatively under used area by most of Apple’s consumers.  These 12 days of freebies are a brilliant opportunity to give taste of what we’re missing out on by not having video content or iBooks and the same should apply to music.

Like the music the apps were also a mixed bag. Both the games are fun, easy to play and boast the opportunity to play with friends – you can all share in Apple’s generosity. As you hit more and more cars and road furniture in the racing game Shift 2 Unleashed your windscreen gets more and more cracked – a nice touch. Sonic’s All-Star racing is also good, clean fun plus a great for the younger generation downloading. But it must be asked, why two racing games Apple? Why not a bit of variety?

Two new areas that Apple explored and expanded this year were books and non-gaming acts – and both were a huge success in my mind. In this Apple really fulfilled what I feel is the main point of the app – to give us something new and encourage us to use the range of Apple products. Snapseed, a photo editing app, is easy to use and slick. iBooks featured  Jo Nesbo’s ‘The Redbreast’ but most excitingly Lonely Planet’s ‘Best in Travel: 2012’ is a welcome addition to my iPod. With its top ten lists and stunning photographs it’s nice to dip in and out of and dream…

All in all this has been the best year yet for the Apple Christmas giveaway. With some genuinely innovative aspects my Apple usage has been pushed beyond the boundaries of a few games apps and a bit of music. All the media supergiant need to do for next year is make the music more unique – with a few tweaks this already brilliant gift would make everyone’s Christmas list next year.

Sarah Shapcott