Nike Re-Releasing Shoe That Looks Like An iPhone Case

The hole-riddled iPhone 5C case that generated so much attention last year will be reincarnated in the form of a Nike shoe by none other than Apple designer Marc Newson.

Similarities between Nike's Zvezdochka, which first debuted in 2004, and Apple's iPhone 5C case are unmistakable. However, the two products are not officially related.

Named after the Russian dog that was launched into space aboard Sputnik 10 back in the 1960s, the Zvezdochka was originally designed by Newson as a modular shoe (consisting of four parts) that was inspired by the Russian Space Agency and his vision for "a multi-purpose shoe for cosmonauts."

In light of Newson's recent decision to join Apple's design team, working alongside friend and company design chief Jony Ive, the resemblance between the Zvezdochka and the iPhone 5C case is even more striking. However, Nike's site does not mention the apparent similarities.

Despite the fact that the original Zvezdochka predates the iPhone 5C case by almost a decade (and the first Apple iPhone by three years), its futuristic design proves just how far ahead of its time the shoe really was.

To celebrate the Zvezdochka's 10th anniversary, Nike is re-releasing the shoe as a limited-edition product beginning Dec. 29, through its NikeLab website.

Smart Locks: The Next Smart-Home Winner?

Nest paved the way for the smart home, showing investors that consumers would pay $249 for a next-generation thermostat. Now many are wondering what other connected-home products could become breakout success stories. In 2015, smart locks, and security related products in general, are the most promising.

For a smart-home device to succeed in the consumer market it must be as easy to use compared to its non-connected version and there must be a return for the consumer in terms of cash/energy savings or convenience. If connectivity merely adds complexity, a product’s in trouble.

Connected thermostats have proved a winner based on these criteria. The lock is a technology that has stood the test of time since metal keys and locks first appeared about 900 AD. If we’re truly ready to move beyond their elegant simplicity, we’ll need some clear benefits. Smart locks must make our lives easier.

A number of startups have risen to the challenge, including August, Kevo, Lockitron, Danalock, and Goji, which all have smart locks for sale in the $179 to $299 price range. Jason Johnson, who co-founded August along with designer Yves Behar, noted to me, “We wanted to wait until we felt there was a real problem to solve and not just make another gadget for the home that was kind of cool but you used it for a few months. We wanted to make something that would last for many years. It’s not easy to do. It’s not easy to find a product to do that in the home.”

As I discuss in more depth in my recent Gigaom Research report, smart locks offer attractive benefits: Being able to grant a house guest or a repairman short term access to your home via a smart phone, going for a run without taking your keys, and being able to use a friend’s phone to open your house in case you do the smart lock equivalent of “losing your keys.”

The trick in the smart home, of course, is always moving beyond the early adopter crowd. Right now, products are being developed that include everything from a connected water monitor for your fish tank to a connected toaster. Getting the broader market to pay for connected products is a different story.

I am optimistic about smart locks, partially because it is a very promising market not just in the residential sector but also in hospitality. Consider an Airbnb host who only wants to grant access to her apartment for specific periods of time and who doesn’t want to have to go meet her guest. Now she can just authenticate the guest’s smart phone for a set number of days. Business travelers are another opportunity. Instead of showing up at a conference and seeing a line of 20 people waiting at reception, your phone can check you in and serve as your hotel room key. I could see big chains like Marriott or Hilton integrating this functionality into their apps.

The risks? Like any newish technology there are imperfections. One reviewer complained that if he entered through the garage and walked by the front door, where his August smart lock was installed, it unlocked even though he was inside the house. One of the reasons the Kevo smart lock requires a simple touch sensor to unlock is that its designers felt intent to unlock was important in preventing situations like this. Others have noted that with features that automatically lock the door after it closes, stepping outside without a phone means being locked out of your house. (Of course, this feature can be turned off and, anyway, plenty of traditional locks work this way too.). Still, I think consumers will move past all of these minor glitches as they get accustomed to how the technology works. The technology is also likely to get better as data collected from a couple years of consumer use produces quicker product cycles and improved functionality.

Smart locks have a lot of benefits for consumers, and, longer term, businesses interested in maximizing customer experiences will see value in them. I suspect that will be enough to move smart locks out of the early adopter set.

Twitter Analytics Now Available On iPhone App

Twitter analytics are now available on the iPhone app.

Analytics show users how many impressions their tweets get and charts other engagement metrics, as well as retweets and favorites. So even if a tweet isn't getting retweeted 1,000 times, users can see if people are still interacting with the post.

The new feature launched for iPhone on Monday. To access mobile tweet analytics on an iPhone, users can click on one of their tweets, then tap the "View Tweet activity" beneath the post. After that, the analytics page appears to offer everything that's available on the desktop version. Here's how it looks on the iPhone:

Analytics are only available if you have the most recent version of the Twitter app, and they're only on iPhone (for now, anyway). It's unclear if Twitter is planning to expand the feature to its iPad, Android or Windows apps. Twitter didn't immediately respond to Mashable's request for clarification.

Originally designed for advertisers, Twitter rolled out its analytics interface to marketers, verified users and Twitter Card publishers earlier in the summer. In August, Twitter made analytics available for all users.

13 Free iPhone 6 wallpapers Must In Your Pocket

Treating yourself to a new iPhone 6 this holiday season? Time to customize it.

Creative wallpapers for your home and lock screens are a great personal touch for any phone. Don't just stick with the pre-selected, built-in wallpapers — branch out.

To help you narrow down your search, we rounded up some stunning photos converted to fit an iPhone 6 screen. Here are 13 gorgeous wallpaper designs you can use for your new phone.
1. Swirling skies

2. Overhead city

3. Fall feeling

4. City at sunset

5. Towering skyscrapers 

6. Winter trees

7. Aerial landscapes

8. Overgrown

9. Neon streets

10. Sunrise

11. Campfire

12. Christmas music

13. Bubbly view

Latest Firefox Phone Has Transparent Shell

A new phone that runs Firefox OS is launching in Japan on Christmas Day, and it's a looker.

The Fx0 phone has an unusual feature that makes it stand out next to iPhones and Android devices: The Fx0's exterior casing is transparent.

The see-through phone is the product of a partnership between Mozilla and Japanese telecom giant KDDI. It's the first Firefox OS phone to include features now commonplace among smartphones, such as 4G LTE and NFC (near-field communication), the technology used for mobile payment transactions.

In terms of specs, the phone isn't exactly remarkable, though it is a big step up from most Firefox OS phones. It has a 4.7-inch display, the same size as the iPhone 6, and also carries a 1.2 GHz quad-core processor and a relatively modest 2,370 mAh battery.

The phone was designed by Tokujin Yoshioka — who seems to have a thing for transparent phones. His brief was to embody the "openness, freedom and transparency" that Mozilla apparently wants to exhibit, according to a Mozilla blog post.

The Fx0 retails for 50,000 yen (about $420), which is a step up from Mozilla's $33 smartphone made for the developing world.

There are 16 phones that run Firefox OS, and they're available in 29 countries. No word on when or whether U.S. consumers will ever be able to get their hands on the Fx0.

LG Introduces Speakers You Can Text

The new Wi-Fi Music Flow speakers, which the company will unveil at CES 2015 in January, can accept commands from the messaging service Line. Besides the usual play and skip commands, you'll be able to use some natural language: For instance, "play music for party" will tell the system to start a party playlist.

Easy connectivity is also a big deal. Auto Music Play will detect a smartphone that comes within a foot of the speaker, and begin playing any music that's playing. That way,you can start listening on your commute, then immediately relay the playback to the speaker when you walk in the door

The Music Flow speakers connect via dual-band Wi-Fi, using both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, giving them more robust bandwidth than your usual Bluetooth connection. A user can also network multiple speakers together for surround sound, with a soundbar up front and separate speakers in back.

LG's 2015 line consists of three soundbars, three standalone Wi-Fi speakers, and a new portable model, the NP8350. The accompanying Music Flow app is available on iOS and Android.

No price or availability information yet. We anxiously await a text.

Windows 10 Much Better From Windows 8

What lies ahead for Microsoft in 2015 can be summarized in just two words: Windows 10.

The company's fate has always been deeply intertwined with Windows, but next year's upgrade carries unusual weight. Like Windows 7 did in 2009, Windows 10 needs to undo the damage done by its predecessor, Windows 8. It's no exaggeration to say that Microsoft can't afford to screw this one up.

Sure, Microsoft still makes heaps of money from its software that runs on PCs and servers in thousands of businesses — big and small — worldwide, and most of those computers aren't running the latest version of Windows, or anything even close. Windows 10 won't have any immediate impact on that dominating footprint.

But in the long term, a second flawed Windows release would be crippling. Only now are many businesses adopting Windows 7 en masse (thanks mainly to the retiring of Windows XP), and you can bet few will ever upgrade to Windows 8/8.1, given its many criticisms. The market will give one bad release a pass, but two in a row would accelerate the company's decline in both relevance and market share.

We're already starting to see a passing of the torch in the business sector: Earlier this year, Apple and IBM announced a partnership to bring IBM's business software to iPhones and iPads. As smartphones and tablets get more powerful, more work is getting done on them, but so far the future of mobile in the enterprise looks surprisingly Microsoft-free, apart from a few apps.

Counting down to Windows 10

Windows 10, which will get a grand unveiling on Jan. 21, could change that. The new OS is intended to fully unite Microsoft's multiple platforms, with phones, tablets, PCs and even the Xbox all based on the same code. That potentially will make it easier than ever for developers to build apps that work on all kinds of devices, and for those devices to work together to keep experiences seamless (e.g., relaying a video across multiple screens).

But hold on for just one second. Isn't that unified vision basically what Microsoft promised with Windows 8? After all, Windows 8 was supposed to give PC users a device-agnostic experience, one with strong cloud integration. Microsoft even re-engineered Windows Phone from scratch to bring its mobile OS in line with PCs and tablets (which were often one in the same).

Judging from PC sales, which have been declining ever since the debut of Windows 8, and the anemic market share of Windows tablets, which stands at 1.6% based on usage, that didn't work out so well. Windows 10 needs to deliver on promises that Windows 8 left unfulfilled.

"The one thing they've got to hit out of the park is Windows 10," says Richard Hay, who operates Windows Observer. "It's got to address all the issues [with Windows 8]. It has to be almost perfect."

There's at least one reason to be optimistic: the transparent way Microsoft is handling the release. The company is launching Windows 10 with unprecedented collaboration with its customers, particularly enterprise customers. There are clear ways to send feedback, and it looks like the company is actually responding.

"What's different about Windows 10 is that we see them collecting the specific feedback and responding to the feedback," says Hay."This is very different from the way they approached Windows 8."

Another point in Windows 10's favor is that Microsoft's cloud — which drives much of the technology that keeps cross-device experiences consistent — is stronger than ever.

But the idea of devices that automatically adapt to your context at any given moment is a puzzle that Microsoft and others are only beginning to really solve. Google's Android Wear and Apple's Continuity are just two examples, and both debuted in the last six months.

"Microsoft needs to deliver an operating system that works on both touch- and non-touch-centric devices," says Mary Jo Foley, editor of ZDNet's All About Microsoft blog, over email. "Microsoft needs to undo further the mistakes it made with Windows 8 (and which it began to do with Windows 8.1), and it needs to also try to deliver on its 'One Windows' promises by further aligning its different flavors of Windows across devices to try to keep developers in the fold."

Windows 10 will take device context further for Microsoft, something the company had trouble doing with Windows 8. At the Windows 8 launch, OneDrive (then called SkyDrive) wasn't robust enough to act as a user's primary data storage; the Azure cloud was nascent; and Cortana — the Windows Phone digital assistant — wasn't public yet. Now those services serve as the backbone of many parts of Microsoft's platforms. Windows finally has shoulders strong enough to hold up the promises from three years ago.

Windows Phone and mobile

If there's a weak spot in Microsoft's arsenal, it's certainly mobile, where Windows Phone still languishes at 2.9% market share. Some commentators have given up on the platform, pointing out that a large "app gap" still exists for Windows Phone — many apps never arrive on it, and those that do are under-featured compared to their iOS and Android counterparts.

"This is the unfortunate effect of not being the first mover," says Wes Miller, a research VP at Directions on Microsoft. "Today, if you're building an app, you build it for iOS first. And if you think you can get some money out of them, you might build it for Android users. And if you've got some spare time, you might build for Windows."

In 2014, we saw Microsoft, under the leadership of CEO Satya Nadella, finally address this problem, and abandon any "home team first" philosophy with its software products. Fully featured versions of Office, OneDrive and more apps came to iOS and Android, even going further than what had been done on Windows Phone.

"We're seeing this across all the platforms, that it's not so much the base of the platform — it's the apps and services available," says Hay. "It's exactly why Microsoft has made such a push to get their services on the other platforms, almost to the detriment of Windows at times."

Microsoft wisely realizes it's not going to capture market share with creative "bundling" tricks, like what it tried to do with Windows RT and Office. It's only going to win converts to its platform by offering experiences that competitors can't (Office clones that are "good enough" are a dime a dozen on Android and iOS).

So where does that leave Windows Phone? Like an underperforming hockey team, Windows Phone will likely take years to catch up to its competitors, if it does at all. In the case of mobile, however, there may no longer be a trophy to win once that happens. Mobile platforms are rapidly converging feature-wise, with few clear-cut reasons left to switch from one to the other.

"Plan A is to try to get developers to buy into the idea that they'll be able to create 'universal apps' that will run on Windows Phone, Windows and ultimately Xbox," says Foley. "If that fails, I think we will see Microsoft provide a way to run Android apps on Windows and Windows Phone, as has been rumored for the past year."
Windows in 2015

Still, even if the mobile war is winding down, there are new frontiers to conquer. Microsoft may have already lost in mobile, but if cross-platform context and collaboration is the next battlefield, Windows 10 could give the company an edge.

That all depends on whether Nadella and Microsoft can do two things at once: First, it must address the complaints of longtime Windows users to ensure upgrading to Windows 10 proceeds as smoothly and quickly as possible. No one wants another Windows 8, figuratively and literally.

"The generic consumer is very happy with their existing systems," says Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies. "I'm not convinced Windows 10 will drive any strong refresh. That was the original goal of Windows 8 — to force people to buy more systems. It failed badly."

Second, and more important,Microsoft must reach beyond immediate complaints and make a play for the future. Nadella's decision to focus on "re-inventing productivity," while a pedantic word choice, feels more correct than building PC/tablet hybrids or focusing on nonspecific things like "devices and services" (the company's central mission under Steve Ballmer).

But it only means something if the experiences Microsoft serves up take its customers to places its competitors can't. In simpler terms, the company needs to innovate — something that was seemingly squeezed out of its culture during its many years as an effective monopoly in computing.

There are signs of innovative spirit, however. Skype Translator, the digital storytelling app Sway and the Microsoft Band smartwatch/fitness tracker (complete with iPhone compatibility!) are all signs that the company is moving in the right direction.

Microsoft Band

Windows 10 needs to build on that foundation and not just be an adequate successor to Windows 7. It has to give customers — whether they're considering a Chromebook, a MacBook or even an entirely mobile experience — a reason to stop and look at what Microsoft is offering, show them why Windows will improve their lives, and perhaps even amaze them a little.

It's a tall order, but one Microsoft must fulfill if it hopes to regain any of the relevancy it once had. To win 2015 and beyond, Windows 10 needs to go to 11.

Where do you see Microsoft going in 2015? Let us know in the comments.

The most exciting Apple legal story you'll read all day

In a move that is sure to send massive shockwaves through Apple Store break rooms the world over, two former Apple Store employees are throwing in the towel on their claims against the company. The duo alleges that Apple owed them some cold hard cash after they spent as long as 25 minutes waiting for their bags to be checked before departing on breaks from their Apple Store shifts.

The checking of employee bags, backpacks, and any other pouch that could potentially be used to smuggle delicious iDevices and other Apple swag out of the store is a common practice, though having to wait nearly a half hour for such an inspection certainly does seem a bit out of the ordinary. We all know that feeling of leaving work after a long day, so we can certainly sympathize.

The Supreme Court, on the other hand, didn't see things the same way.

The court decided that the unfortunate delays weren't worthy of compensation, and tossed the case like a week-old newspaper.

Plaintiffs Deal Pelle and Amanda Frlekin have declared that they won't fight the federal motion to dismiss the suit, but will continue to pursue a ruling at the state level.
Apple filed its own brief on the matter, claiming that since no work is actually being done while an employee is waiting for a bag to be checked, no compensation is warranted. The company also requested that the state-level claims be dismissed.

Simplest Way To Extend Your iPhone's Battery Life

With the release of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, Apple’s handy gadget appears to remain the top selling smartphone this fall. However, despite the phone’s amazing functionality and impressive hardware, iPhone battery life can run out pretty quickly if you leave some features running all the time. So here are ten smple tips to help you get the most out of your iPhone battery life.

Don’t play music
To extend your iPhone battery life, you’ll want to minimize the amount of work your iPhone is performing. The first and easiest way to do this is to turn off your music. Even when your screen is off, playing music drains your battery fast. If you can’t get to a charger and need to get every minute possible out of your battery life, turn off your music player.

Turn Down screen brightness

Another simple way to extend your iPhone battery life is to turn your screen brightness down. Yes, your iPhone’s screen is crisp and saturated, but all that beauty does a number on your battery. To minimize this drain on your battery life, open the command centre by swiping up from the bottom of your iPhone screen. You can do this with your iPhone unlocked or from the lock screen. Once the command center is open, slide the brightness toggle all the way to the left.

Turn off background motion

One of the newer features on your iPhone is that fancy parallax motion. In English, this refers to the way your iPhone background pans to show more of the photo when you tilt your phone. While a sleek addition to iOS’s design, parallax motion also contributes to a short iPhone battery life. To turn off background motion, go to Settings>General>Accessibility and toggle Reduce Motion to “on”.

Limit your location tracking

One highly useful feature on your iPhone is location monitoring. This feature allows you to use mapping apps, track exercise, check social media platforms, and search for services nearby. While these are all useful smartphone features, constantly refreshing your location keeps your iPhone battery life short. To manage your location tracking, visit Settings>Privacy>Location Services. Here, you can turn off location monitoring altogether, or switch off certain apps one at a time.

Turn off Wi-Fi

Another simple way to extend your iPhone battery life is to turn off wi-fi features. With wi-fi turned on, your iPhone scans every five to ten seconds to detect new wi-fi connection points. This constant scanning is part of the reason your iPhone can automatically detect and connect to wi-fi points you’ve used before. While this feature is immensely useful, it’s another function that quickly drains your battery life. To toggle wi-fi off, simply open the command center by swiping up from the bottom of the screen, then tap the button with the wi-fi symbol. You can also visit Settings>Wi-fi to turn your wi-fi on and off.

Turn off bluetooth

Much like leaving your wi-fi on, keeping Bluetooth on when you’re not using it will deplete your battery faster than normal. You can also switch Bluetooth off in the command center by tapping the button with the Bluetooth symbol. Even if you have a Bluetooth device connected to your iPhone, it’s a good idea to disconnect and power off your Bluetooth device if you need to stretch your battery life until the next recharge.

Turn off cellular data

Another simple way to extend your iPhone battery life is to turn off cellular data. This won’t interrupt your ability to text or call your contacts, but it will prevent you from browsing the web, using data, or sending and receiving picture text messages. However, if you need your battery life more than you need to text multimedia or use the Internet, this is an effective option to extend your battery life. To turn off cellular data, navigate to Settings>Cellular and hit the button that says “Cellular Data”.

Kill apps

Additionally, an easy way to extend your iPhone battery life without interrupting your communications is to “kill” your apps. Whenever you open an app, your iPhone leaves it running in the background so the app starts faster should you want to switch back to it. While convenient, this feature is misunderstood by many iPhone users, so they don’t know they need to properly exit apps when they’re finished using them. To see all the apps currently open on your phone, hit the menu button twice in a row. You can scroll through the open apps by swiping left and right, then exit an app by putting your finger on the window you want to close and swiping up.

Turn on airplane mode

Similarly, turning airplane mode on will drastically extend your battery life. Unfortunately, this will interrupt your ability to communicate with your contacts. With airplane mode on, your phone will not transmit any signals, which means you won’t be able to make or accept incoming calls, send or receive texts, or use the Internet. For this reason, turning on airplane mode to extend your battery life is best used only in emergencies.

Stop fetching data

Finally, another easy way to extend your iPhone battery life is to stop your phone from fetching data. This happens on apps that automatically download new information. Fetching data is most common on email, but can also be turned on for other services, like Calendar and iCloud. Instead of letting your phone constantly update your messages, photos, dates and reminders, just check your apps manually for new messages or content. Navigate to Settings>Mail, Contacts, Calendars>Fetch New Data and switch off data fetching and push data to extend your battery life.

10 Websites Every College Student Must Know

Alas, college students are generally good at spotting web trends. It’s also important for them to know how to use the web effectively and to their advantage, especially as a college student who might need to ace an exam and perfect their study habits in order to gain passing grades for expensive courses. Therefore, give these 21 websites that are either growing in popularity or already well known and highly useful a try:

The Internet-based world we live in means that common web-based homework tasks need easy and fast solutions. Ice Cream Apps fills the bill by providing students the software to take care of tasks like capturing screenshots, converting video formats, making slideshows and all kinds of stuff that college students’ coursework can require.

With Flvto, students are afforded an easy way to listen to video presentations on the go, even when they don’t have Wi-Fi access or their data plans are hitting 90% and they need to lay off all that streaming because Mom and Dad are getting Verizon Wireless warnings.  If you need to write an essay about the “Color blind or color brave?” TED talk, for example, just plop the URL into Flvto and listen on the go.

Photius is a weird little website with a throwback homepage look from the 1990s, but the best part is the fact that college students can save money on shopping by getting 20% off with a Nordstrom coupon, for example.

Slack is a website that helps not only business people improve their communication efforts, but students as well. It integrates with DropBox, always keeps your place when you jump around various applications and it connects teams, so it can be used by study groups and project partners with open, efficient communication.

With Pocket, college students can save articles they come across for later reading. If you’re writing a paper about “voodoo economics” for instance, it even lets you save the articles into a folder under the same name for easy reference later.

Want to know which teachers to avoid and which professors’ classes to take? Using the website Rate My Professors, you can find real-life reviews from real college students about their real experiences with real teachers – good, bad and ugly.

Want to know the straight dope about what it takes to gain an internship or a permanent job position with a certain company after graduation? Check out Glass Door, wherein actual employees have left reviews about specific firms and have spilled the beans about the true corporate culture.

During college, it’s especially important to know where you’re spending your cash, and Mint helps you do that for free and get supremely organized financially.

With Study Blue, college students can use the convenient service to make flashcards that help them create notes online without wasting paper. It represents a supremely portable way to create formal study guides and freshen up prior to tests without going through piles of text.

Study Hall helps students find jobs and start-ups get access to the top “hackers, hustlers and social media influencers” on college campuses.

Six Christmas Gifts To Avoid

Ever received a gift that you later tossed into the closet, never to be seen or heard from again? One of the main pitfalls of gift-giving is buying a present for someone that they will have no use for.

However, great gifts can bring people closer and are often hugely appreciated by the receiver. We have all been the impractical gift-giver at some point, so pay attention to the kinds of presents to avoid wrapping up this holiday season.

1. The re-gift
Most people have re-gifted at some point in their lives. Christmas shopping is stressful and time-consuming, so people often re-gift books, DVDs, ornaments and other items they were previously given that they had no use for.

However this takes very little time and doesn’t require any effort or finances, so it could leave the receiver feeling undervalued or hurt. Ask yourself if this gift going to spend another year simply gathering dust on your loved one’s shelf?

Chris, 25, received a re-gift from his brother Mark when they were both teenagers, an untouched CD Mark had received the year before. Chris didn’t enjoy the artist and the album was out of date, but he was mainly hurt by the lack of thought on his brother’s part.

“He just grabbed it and quickly wrapped it,” Chris said. “If he was short on time and money I would rather he just make me a card – I never listened to the CD [again] after the first time.”

The main reason people don’t enjoy re-gifts is because of the lack of thought put into them – family heirlooms and well planned re-gifts can be a huge success if your worry is money.

2. The overly practical gift
If you are buying gifts for someone you live with, and the item would still have been purchased, this isn’t much of a gift. A new microwave, laundry basket, or set of forks could be really useful in your house, but the recipient will probably feel that they were cheated out of a gift, as it doesn’t suit any of their personal interests.

Debbie, 54, was surprised to discover her husband Jeremy had bought her a mop for her birthday during the first year they lived together.

“We needed a mop, but if it had been any other month we would have still bought one,” she said. “I don’t enjoy cleaning and the present wasn’t exciting or fun. I made my feelings clear – he never bought me a gift like that again!”

If your partner asks for a vacuum cleaner, it will make a great gift. But if they don’t, consider their hobbies and interests. What would put a genuine smile on their face?

3. The gift with a point
Gifts come with a message, and normally the message is affection and love. Everyone wants the best for the closest people in their lives, and presents can be a great way to help people grow.

However, sometimes gifts can send a message that is hurtful to the receiver. Often gifts with a point can try to help people self-improve, from treadmills to cookbooks to exercise DVDs. These gifts could leave the receiver feeling offended, as it may seem like you think they are lacking and could do to improve.

“Both of my parents love horses,” Sarah, 34, said. “They both work with them and ride in their free time. I’ve never been a fan of them myself, but my parents always wanted me to work with horses as well. When I was 14, they bought me a book about horses for Christmas – I told them then I had no interest in horses and the gift wasn’t suited to me. Thankfully, they apologized and now they would never try to get me on a horse.”

Even though this present is normally sent with the best intentions, to save trouble, think about areas they are already skilled in, so the present is more useful to the receiver.

4. The ‘you don’t really know them’ gift
If you don’t know much about someone’s interests or passions, it can be hard to think of a gift they will enjoy. People often go for safe options like bath products, candles, and perfumes, which can be risky as people often dislike the scents, or are allergic to the products.

“I thought the gift was really cool, as I didn’t know the neighbors well, and I am still touched they considered me,” Reece said. “I’d never had an interest in hunting before, though, and I cut my finger pretty badly within a few hours of opening the present, so my dad took it away and I haven’t seen it since.”

If you don’t know someone well and you still want to get them something, gift cards are a great option to consider. Although some people think they are impersonal, it gives the individual the freedom to choose something for themselves that they will love.

5. The present with bad intentions
Unlike the gift with a point, this gift is never sent with good intentions. Examples include buying cleaning products for untidy housemates, dandruff shampoo to a sibling who doesn’t wash frequently, or exercise equipment for someone who is very weight conscious.

“I lived with my sister and her boyfriend for a few weeks before Christmas when I first moved to Scotland,” said Natalie, 46. “On Christmas Day her boyfriend gave me a bed and breakfast guide for the city. I was embarrassed in front of my family – I wanted to curl up and disappear!”

People often send hurtful presents if they dislike confrontation and don’t know how to tackle the problem, but they can be very belittling to the receiver. The most respectful way to deal with any problems you have with someone is to talk to them openly, rather than possibly causing any emotional damage.

6. The gift for yourself
Often when you live with someone, gifts are used by everyone in the house. But are you buying the gift for them, or you? People often get excited about gifts they know they can use, so they create reasons why it is useful for everyone.

This gift is often seen as selfish, as it doesn’t consider the person the gift is actually for and mainly benefits the person who bought it. This present is basically anything that you benefit from more than them – whether it is a car, a bottle of wine or a PS4.

Ask yourself if the present benefits you more than the person you are buying it for. If it does, keep looking until you find something you know that they, specifically, will love.