Holiday gift guides 2022: Spotify, Apple Music, Xbox, and more cloud subscriptions

Holiday gift guides 2022: Spotify, Apple Music, Xbox, and more cloud subscriptions

Cloud computing has quickly found its way into every corner of our lives.

It can be a tremendous help with both job searches and career advancement. It’s the pillar of the work-from-home movement. And those digital nomads who work and play from a variety of locations are always able to access the systems they need.

It’s just as valuable to our leisure time as well. The age of physical media is disappearing quickly, with virtually every form of entertainment now being delivered remotely.

So while we admit a “cloud computing gift guide” might be an unusual name, it’s likely something you’ve considered in the past as you looked for the best present for that friend, associate, or loved one. And even better? Most of the items we’re suggesting make excellent last-minute suggestions.

Here are some cloud-based ideas for the 2022 holiday season.

Buy a single video game at your local GameStop or Walmart, and you’ll be looking at price tags of up to $80 each. But for just $15 per month, you can get a membership to Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which offers hundreds of titles, including new releases from the company’s growing list of studios. Within seconds of selecting a title, members are in the game—and they can stop playing on one device (console, PC, smartphone, or tablet, or streamed directly to your smart TV), and pick up the game on another in exactly the same place they hit pause.

While vinyl and cassettes are making a comeback, when it comes to music discovery and listening today, there’s no matching the streaming services. A virtually unlimited catalog of music is at your fingertips, making both the workday a bit less mundane and your personal time peppier. Free options are available, but the commercials get intrusive fast. Premium subscriptions generally start around $10 per month. Beyond music, there are also thousands of podcasts and, with Spotify, audiobooks on-demand.

You’ve heard the advice time and again: Have a different, hard-to-guess password for every site you log into. Problem is: Keeping up with those is a challenge—and coming up with passwords is tricky. 1Password stores your data for various sites in the cloud, letting you have a separate login wherever you go, but you only have to remember your master password. The data is encrypted, so your personal and financial information stays safe.

It’s handy to be able to reach your files wherever and whenever you want, but it’s sometimes a leap of trust to upload them to a third-party service, regardless of how well-reviewed or acclaimed it might be. One alternative is a personal cloud system. Western Digital, for example, offers four terabytes of storage that hooks up to your computer for roughly $200, with no monthly fees. It’s a baby step into the cloud for people that aren’t ready to trust their files, photos and documents to a company like Amazon, Google, or Apple.

If you share a number of files for work, you likely don’t want to do so via personal systems, such as iCloud or Google Drive, where personal information is stored. Dropbox is a favorite alternative for professional users, with over 700 million users. Prices start at $10 a month for two terabytes and advance in price and storage capacity from there.

Not everything cloud related has to be high tech. Sometimes, silliness is just what the holiday calls for. Got an engineer or data scientist on your list and you can’t quite find the right thing for them? Etsy, as it so often does, can come to the rescue, with a sarcastic cloud-based T-shirt for less than $20 that will be a conversation starter at work.

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