This week we look at Syncopy, a simple copy and paste manager between your Mac and iPhone, and Safety Light, yet another flashlight app that "could save your life!"
Syncopy is a simple and beautifully designed app that keeps your copy and paste clippings in sync between your Mac and iPhone. Have you got the feeling of déjà vu? I know I do - Pastebot, another copy and paste manager was released just a few weeks ago on the App Store (and reviewed here). That does not, however, make Syncopy a useless app for owners of Pastebot. While it's easy to draw comparisons by reading only briefly into both apps, I've actually found that the pair cover completely separate territory, albeit in the same app sub-genre. This isn't going to be a review that decides whether Syncopy or Pastebot is the app most worthy of your home screen space, but I will be mentioning the latter occasionally along the way.
The first thing you'll notice about Syncopy is it's remarkably clean interface. There's literally no learning curve when it comes to Syncopy - taking aside the need for an account (more about that below), it has to be one of the most fantastically easy-to-use apps on the iPhone. It uses the cut, copy and paste functions in iPhone OS 3.0 to automatically show your last clipping. Tap 'paste to server' and just like that, the clipping is placed right up in Syncode's (the developers behind Syncopy) 'cloud'.
The fundamental difference between Syncopy and Pastebot is the way in which clippings are synced. While Tapbots' third creation requires a local wi-fi connection on both your Mac and iPhone (or iPod touch), Syncopy places your clipping on their server, which means you can access it all over the world. This is much more practical if you are, for example, working on a development project with a few colleagues and want to send a few lines of code quickly and easily. Send it from your iPhone, and you and your colleague will be able to download it immediately, no matter what their location is. The downside to this 'cloud' connection is that Syncode requires an account to use both the Mac and iPhone app. I hate creating new accounts, especially when I have to remember a password. I appreciate that this is only for better security, but I'd like this to be optional - I don't mind if my clippings aren't one hundred percent confidential!
With the Syncopy Mac application (a free download from the Syncode site), clippings can be downloaded onto your notebook or desktop computer easily. Once installed, it sits on you menu bar, and can be configured to download clippings from your iPhone automatically (à la MobileMe). Personally, I prefer to avoid installing menu bar apps, as having too many can conflict with app-specific menus on the left, but the tiny Mac app's interface is just as neat as the $1 iPhone app.
Support for multiple clippings or photos doesn't exist in Syncopy, and these are features I'd love to see added in future to make it a more complete app all-round - as for the rest of the app and the accompanying service however, I have very few complaints. While it may not boast quite as many features as the $4 Pastebot, Syncopy is a very impressive clipboard sync manager on both the iPhone and Mac.
Version reviewed: 1.0
Ah, the humble flashlight app. Considered to be more of an annoyance to the App Store than an advantage, there are literally hundreds of them on the App Store. That's why it struck me as rather odd that The Iconfactory (the pixel-pushers behind Ramp Champ and some of the best icons around) had made their own. After all, there's very little point in having a flashlight app that takes up valuable home screen space and essentially performs the same function as a blank Safari page. A simple flashlight app would have to boast a few extra features to be worth downloading- especially when it will cost you one of your hard earned dollars, too. That's where Safety Light steps in.
The $1 app takes the concept of using the iPhone's brilliantly bright backlight to stop you from falling over at night, for example, and adds a smattering of bonus bits and pieces to make it worth your while. The most prominent amongst those is the inclusion of an SOS signal, hopefully alerting "emergency rescue" parties to whatever your predicament may be. Safety Light uses the iPhone's built-in speakers to beam out a rather loud distress prompt. While the whole thing feels somewhat gimmicky, it's potentially quite a useful feature, and a nice addition to the app.
Here's my only problem with the app - it's still another icon on my home screen that could be avoided just by visiting a brightly coloured app (I believe I mentioned Safari before). Now that I have used it on occasion, I can see how it might just come in handy every now and then, but not enough for me to warrant placing it on the first or second screen, which is, to a certain extent, required to use the app effectively. For the record,*Safety Light also brings four preset lighting modes - emergency, alert, hues and disco to it's list of features, plus a simple flasher that can be easily configured for speed, brightness and colour in the easily accessed settings of the app.
That's about all there is to it - at the end of the day, there's only so much you can do with a flashlight app without venturing into other app territory. In terms of achieving all that's possible in a flashlight app, Safety Light has covered all aspects, delivering a powerful, 'one-stop shop' utility for turning your iPhone into a supposedly life-saving light. If you are going to download a flashlight app, spend a dollar and get the best one you can.
Version reviewed: 2.0
Developer: Craig Hockenberry