Common question: Will I end up having to pay for this subscription?
How to answer: No, or yes if they want to keep using it after your gift period is over. Subscription services work in different ways, but generally speaking, once the gift period ends, they’ll simply lose access. If they liked it and want to keep access, then one of you will have to foot the bill. There may be different tiers available if the person wants to switch to a lower-cost plan or access different content.
Also, most of these services offer free trials, sometimes substantial ones. If they’ve never done a trial with that service before, make sure the person does the free trial period first before activating your gift subscription.
When Giving Smart Home Products
Smart home products can range from connected light bulbs, door locks, connected electrical outlet plugs, and security cameras. This is a vast category. Most people could benefit from some sort of smart, connected device, but you don’t have to go overboard and do their entire home.
What you need to know: For smart home products, you’ll want to consider how the recipient will access these devices. If they have a smart speaker already, does the product you’re planning to give work with that platform? Some products are more universal than others. Hue lights, while on the pricier side, are compatible across HomeKit, Google Home, and Amazon Echo devices. Others, however, may cause more headache than joy when it’s time to set them up. Sticking to reputable or well-known brands can also signal a minimum level of security and the likelihood they’ll work and be supported for the long term.
You’ll probably also want to know how comfortable the recipient is with smart home technology, and whether they’re OK setting it up (or you’re giving yourself a job as well as giving them a gift). Connected lights are neat, unless they constantly leave the person in the dark.
Common question: Can it be hacked and my house be taken over? (Additionally: Will this use a lot of internet data?)
How to answer: No, your house won’t be taken over. But since a device that’s connected to the internet is potentially vulnerable to an outside source, it’s important to take some easy security measures.
Make sure the Wi-Fi network the new device is connected to is password-protected. (And make sure only people you trust have that password.) Make sure the device itself has a strong password, or any account you have to set up to use it has one. If the device or service offers two-factor authentication, that will help as well. Finally, don’t reuse passwords across devices or accounts. Even complex passwords are less secure if they’re used over and over again.
As far as data usage, it varies. A connected light bulb will only use trace amounts of data, while security cameras can be data hogs, especially if you have them set up to save video to the cloud.
When Giving a Smartwatch or Fitness Tracker
Not only have smartwatches and fitness trackers become popular gifts, they’ve also become more affordable. Even Apple is trying to lower the Apple Watch’s entry price through older models and the new SE model.
What you need to know: Smartwatches can provide a range of functions. You should probably learn whether the person is serious about health and fitness and wants a tool to help with that, or they’re more interested in general-purpose things like checking notifications and answering phone calls. Some Android Wear watches can be used with an iPhone, but Apple Watch cannot be used (very well, at least) on Android. You should definitely know what type of phone they use.