View Full Version : iPhone App Reviews - Articles, ThinkDigits

23rd March 2010, 08:14 PM
<h3>This week we look at Articles, a brand new Wikipedia client with an emphasis on style and ThinkDigits, another advanced calculator app developed here in Australia.</h3>
not finished yet, please don't publish early :)
<img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-5874" title="articles 1" src="http://www.mactalk.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/articles-1.jpg" alt="articles 1" width="230" height="346" />

Just like <a href="http://www.mactalk.com.au/2009/07/14/iphone-app-reviews-newsstand-wikipanion/">previously reviewed</a> Wikipanion, <em>Articles</em> is nothing more than a dead simple native Wikipedia client. Both take the enormous wealth of content that's constantly being revised and added to on Wikipedia, and put it in an app for the iPhone with an interface that's more suited to the touch screen device. Since the release of Wikipanion, however, Wikipedia developed its own mobile web app and native application for the iPhone &amp; iPod touch, which begs the question - are any of these apps worth downloading with an official client already released?

Having used both apps, I think the only appropriate answer is yes. While Wikipedia's mobile interface is fantastic when following links in Safari, Wikipedia is as much a reference tool as anything else, and I often look up articles without having followed a link first. Using a native client is essential for this, since Wikipedia's offering on the iPhone still has a lot of kinks that need to be worked out, and it's honestly not that great looking either. Up until now, my solution has been to use Wikipanion. Now, with the release of <em>Articles</em> for the iPhone, it has replaced the aforementioned app as my browser of choice.


<img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-5875" title="articles 2" src="http://www.mactalk.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/articles-2.jpg" alt="articles 2" width="230" height="346" />

<em>Articles</em> has one of the best interfaces I've seen on the iPhone, ever. I'm not surprised, since the developers from Sophiestication Software are also responsible for Where To? (<a href="http://www.mactalk.com.au/2009/07/28/iphone-app-reviews-where-to-anaconda/">reviewed here</a>), with an interface that still hasn't dated at all, despite being available on the App Store for almost two years. The article display and search interface is very reminiscent of the huge improvements Apple is making to Safari for the iPad, and I love it. Inside the menus of <em>Articles</em>, there aren't any icons or buttons where there shouldn't be, and even the ones that do need to be there are pixel perfect. Overall, it's a stunningly good looking app.

The app has some pretty fantastic extra features too. Though finding and reading Wikipedia entries is remarkably simple, <em>Articles</em> doesn't lose too much functionality in the process. Inside the bookmarks menu, you'll find a list of articles relating to places near your current location (displayed on a map via GPS) with the 'Nearby' button, which could be a very handy travel tool. Folders can be created of entries, which is useful for projects and assignments at work/university/school. The Random Article feature on Wikipedia isn't gone either, with a 'Surprise Me!' shortcut added in the bookmarks too. Multiple pages can be displayed inside <em>Articles</em>, similar to the way 'tabs' are handled in Safari.

Though <em>Articles</em> doesn't have a few of the features (such as 'find in page' and offline reading) found in Wikipanion, I just love the app's interface too much to ignore it. Wikipedia is a brilliant service, and this app brings 'the free encyclopaedia' to a whole new level on the iPhone. With some quick bug fixes here and there (one of the biggest concerns I have is with the search bar, which never completes article titles based on suggestion searches), I expect <em>Articles</em> to become the premier client for iPhone owners. Some users may be put off by the relatively high price, but even after just a few minutes of use I knew my money was well spent.

<strong>Version reviewed:</strong> 1.0
<strong>Price:</strong> $3.99
<strong>Developer:</strong> Sophiestication Software
<strong>Compatibility:</strong> iPhone &amp; iPod touch running 3.0 or later
<strong>Size:</strong> 1.3MB
<strong>Category:</strong> Reference
<strong><a href="http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/id317065689?mt=8">App Store</a></strong>
<img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-5892" title="thinkdigits 1" src="http://www.mactalk.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/thinkdigits-1.jpg" alt="thinkdigits 1" width="230" height="346" />

Last week I looked at two calculators I found on the App Store that made equations, graphs and all things mathematical far easier on the iPhone. This week, I'd like to extend that with one more app, which comes from within Australia. <em>ThinkDigits </em>(made by Australian developers Ignited Software) is one of the slightly more expensive but also more advanced calculator apps for the iPhone, and its range of functionality (expectedly) far surpasses that of the standard Calculator app that most iPhone users are content with.

In a nutshell, <em>ThinkDigits</em> is a little bit like a visual calculator. By that I mean that numbers become more than just digits on a bar at the top of the screen. In <em>ThinkDigits</em>, they're put on a page and displayed graphically inside 'thought bubbles'. The idea is that eventually you'll form bubbles that combine and are placed together to create a mind map of calculations. The app's statistical, financial and purely mathematical functions (all explained via a helpful in-app guide) power it. It's a novel idea, and while I'm not entirely convinced by the practicalities of this, I am sure that in some scenarios it could be a huge time-saver.

<img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-5893" title="thinkdigits 2" src="http://www.mactalk.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/thinkdigits-2.jpg" alt="thinkdigits 2" width="230" height="346" />

Creating an easy-to-use and clean interface for a complex calculator app is obviously very difficult. <em>ThinkDigits</em> tries to strike a balance between features and display that works in most cases. Making large, multi-step calculations on a small 3.5-inch screen sometimes means that the app's various buttons and backgrounds can feel a little bit crowded, but it really depends on what kind of equations you plan to conduct with the app. Be warned that there is quite a learning curve to some of the more complicated functions in <em>ThinkDigits</em>, especially considering the mind-mapping metaphor that is used extensively in the app.

To be completely honest, I rarely deal with advanced mathematics in my day-to-day life, so I'm sure I have only truly understood a handful of the features I've been able to play with. One of my favourite parts of <em>ThinkDigits</em>, however, are the fantastic sharing options. They're the best I've seen in any app as far as I'm concerned, and I love the idea of being able to backup all your work into a single file. That's very helpful when working on a multi-step calculation where you need to see how you've progressed through the equation (in case, for example, a variable needs to be changed half way through).

Overall, I'm impressed with <em>ThinkDigits</em>' abilities. As I wrote above, there's certainly quite a few features in this app that are worth looking into. Whether you should spend the $5 and get it depends once again on what kind of calculations you need to deal with every day. For some people though, <em>ThinkDigits</em> may just be the best calculator they've ever downloaded.

<strong>Version reviewed:</strong> 2.1
<strong>Price:</strong> $4.99
<strong>Developer:</strong> Ignited Software
<strong>Compatibility:</strong> iPhone &amp; iPod touch running 2.2 or later
<strong>Size:</strong> 5.9MB
<strong>Category:</strong> Business
<strong><a href="http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/thinkdigits-mindmapping-calculator/id295731695?mt=8">App Store</a></strong>