This week we look at two useful iPhone apps with a particular emphasis on style - Sketches 2 and Pastebot.
Part of the first five hundred apps on the App Store, Sketches became an iPhone artist's best friend at launch with it's fairly easy-to-use interface and a basic range of shapes and objects for playing with. It was almost like a small glimpse into a world where Photoshop could be used on the iPhone. Now that there is actually an iPhone version of Photoshop, Sketches has been given a complete overhaul - and like Tweetie 2, it's a paid upgrade from the popular original.
It's got a very similar icon and the same cork board screen for viewing your sketches, but that's about all that's the same (in terms of interface) in Sketches 2. When you choose to start a new sketch, the redesigned tab bar gives you a pretty amazing array of editing options - among them are colour, opacity, width and brush options, a whole range of icons and objects plus text editing, background selection and sharing, including save to camera roll, Twitter sharing, emailing and even web server options. One of my favourite features is the ability to choose a map background based on your current location - you can then add pins and crosshairs for, say, a quick party invitation.
Sketches 2 does sacrifice some ease-of-use in exchange for the new features added, but it's a fair exchange, and after a few minutes of use it's easy to make your way around the app to create new masterpieces. The only major problem I had with the app was with misplacement of new sketches on the cork board screen, and I imagine the developers will release an update to sort it out soon enough. Sketches 2 is a very capable sketching app for the iPhone. At less than $4, it's a sound investment for your iPhone - and just like the original, I have a feeling I'll be using this one quite often.
Version reviewed: 2.0
I'll start this review with a rather bold claim - Pastebot is the most beautiful iPhone app I've ever used. It's a bold claim because I (like many other iPhone users) have seen dozens of outstanding user interfaces for the iPhone, and most of them have been reviewed right here on MacTalk. Pastebot is truly in a class of it's own though - it's truly a complete user experience. Tapbots, who are also responsible for Weightbot and Convertbot are known for great design and useful apps. Pastebot is advertised as a copy and paste "commander" - a place to manage all your clippings from around your iPhone.
Everything about Pastebot has been created with an immense amount of care. Even the sound effects fit the app perfectly. Upon first entering the app, you're taken through a quick tour of the key features - it almost completely teaches you how to use the app in seconds. Then you're shown your clipboard with a few images and text clippings in there as a demonstration of it's functions. It's very simple really - copy anything from anywhere on your iPhone using the copy and paste features introduced in iPhone OS 3.0, and as soon as you open Pastebot again, it's pasted into your clipboard. You can edit text right inside the app, or add a Photoshop-style filter (such as saturation or sepia tone) to images before exporting it again.
My single complaint isn't because of a major bug or an interface niggle (the interface is really quite perfect) - I just haven't found a legitimate use of the app yet. Unlike previously reviewed Convertbot or Weightbot, I've never wanted a copy and paste manager for my iPhone. Perhaps as the iPhone and it's operating system become more complex and powerful there will be a pressing need for it later on. At $2.49, Pastebot is worth downloading just for it's sheer beauty and crispness, and who knows, you might just find a use for it at some stage too.
Version reviewed: 1.0