It’s hard buying gifts for people, and wads of cash, though expedient, can seem tacky. If you want to give something meaningful without losing your mind or blowing your whole budget on just one gift, it really takes some effort. And there’s really no guarantees you won’t lose your mind.
Helping to preserve your sanity, or at least what’s left, is iWishfor. This little app lets you create wish lists for yourself and browse the lists of your friends and family, taking the guesswork out of the holidays. Can iWishfor really save you all those headaches and maybe some returned gifts?
Make a List, Check it Twice
You have to create an account with iWishfor before you get started. After you’ve got your account up and running, you can log in with Facebook or email, but you have to create your account using your email address.
Once you’re into iWishfor, it’s really simple to start adding stuff. Scan the barcode, and hopefully iWishfor will come up with just what you want to add to your wish list. Before your gift is added though, you’ll have the chance to make sure everything looks right. Is the name correct, and does the price look right? If everything is okay, you can finish adding the gift to your wish list.
If iWishfor has trouble reading the barcode, though, you may have to enter it manually. It could be that it was printed funky, you can’t get a good shot, or iWishfor just doesn’t recognize it. If you’re lucky, and I almost always was, iWishfor will pull up exactly what you’re looking for when you type in the barcode just as if you’d scanned the gift. If not, you can enter all the information yourself, and hopefully the next person to search for that gift can use your description as a jumping off point.
The third way to save gifts is to just enter them manually. You’ll take a picture of the present, enter a title and let iWishfor know how much it’s going to cost. This is sort of the last ditch effort to get your gifts onto your wish list, but it’s a really simple process and only takes about a minute.
Find out Who’s Naughty or Nice
Once you’ve got all your presents in your list, your friends and family can find them and buy them and shower you with gifts at Hanukkah, and Christmas, and Epiphany, and Easter, and the Fourth of July, and Arbor Day, and Lunar New Year, and your birthday and even their own birthdays if they’re hobbits. But first they have to find you and you have to find them.
The app really wants you to invite people to join and connect with you and your wish lists; links to invite people show up all over the place. You can invite people one at a time by entering their email addresses, or you can select a big group from your contacts.
What you can’t do is find your friends on Facebook who are using the app or post and invitation to iWishfor as a Facebook or Twitter status update. What I’d really like to do is see the people who have already signed up for the app via Facebook and only connect with those friends, since I can login with Facebook, anwyway. That’s not an option, though. It’s email or nothing.
All I Want for Christmas is Better Integration
I did send out several invitations to friends and family to join iWishfor, but no one seems to have taken me up on it. That’s really unfortunate, because without wish list sharing, iWishfor is a hobbled app. I can’t see anyone’s wish lists and they can’t see mine. For right now, I’m just creating a personal shopping list of things I want but no one will ever buy for me.
If there were integration with other wish list sites, such as Amazon, iWishfor would really have something here. If I could save things in iWishfor and have them end on another wish list site, or view my friends’ Wishlistr wish lists in iWishfor, this little app would have solved a lot of headaches for me. There is a lot of potential right now, but what iWishfor really should wish for is better integration.
And Maybe Better Cellular Data, Too
iWishfor probably works best when you’re wishing for gifts from brick and mortar stores; you can’t save things from Internet stores. That’s a big stumbling block for two reasons. The first is that I want a lot of stuff from the Internet. I want things from Etsy and Amazon and ThinkGeek. But to wish for those things in iWishfor, you need a barcode, and there isn’t a barcode readily available when you’re doing Internet window shopping. Sure, you can enter all of that stuff manually and take pictures of your computer display. Entering gift wishes manually is actually pretty easy, but once you’ve gone to that trouble, really, wouldn’t you have just used a wish list web app?
The second reason iWishfor’s reliance on brick and mortar stores is a problem is that cellular data just isn’t that reliable at packed stores. There are too many people in one place, and this is especially true at Christmas. The app relies on a data connection to do anything at all, even manually saving a new wish, and if you’re in a packed mall on an overburdened cellular network, you can run into some problems. I tried wishing for things at two box stores in different parts of town and a big mall. No dice.
There’s a Lot of Potential
I feel like I’ve been a big bummer about iWishfor, and I don’t mean to be. If you’re on a reliable Internet connection, preferably Wi-Fi, it works really well. The app is really cute and festive enough for Christmas with its red and white color scheme, without being out of place during the rest of the year. You can see what other people are wishing for in almost real time if you want to get ideas for your own wish list, and the ideas are broken down by age and gender. There’s a lot of good.
The app is trying to solve what is a huge problem for a lot of people: figuring out what to get all the people you don’t know all that well. It just seems really unlikely that if I don’t know someone well enough to have idea what they’d like for Christmas, I’m going to be brazen enough to ask them to install an iPhone app, either. Sure I asked my mom and husband and close friends to join up, but I’m all set for them for Christmas. Anyone else, well, I’m going to quietly stalk their Amazon wish lists and Pinterest boards like a true Internet creeper.
If iWishfor can get more integration going, or even just the ability to create gift idea lists for people who haven’t joined, it’s going to be an amazingly useful app. For now it’s too soon to tell; but since i WishFor really is an app that has utility all year long, I’d recommend keeping a close eye on it as gifting chances roll around.