iPhone App Review: PocketTools: All in One Utilities

iPhone App Review: PocketTools: All in One Utilities

October 23rd, 2011 by

The iPhone has a Swiss Army-like stash of capabilities based on its built-in sensors, but practically none of the built-in apps take advantage of them. PocketTools by developer CreativeMotion LLC packs six high-quality tools into its diminutive interface, giving you access to some handy things that you are likely never carrying on your person but kick yourself for not having when you need them. It has a flashlight, bubble level, protractor, ruler, unit converter, and even a plumb bob. Those tools along with a well-planned interface and some nice settings choices make it a great app to have.

How It Works

From the main screen you have a choice of the  six tools, listed in the menu on the side. The menu can be auto-hidden after a set time or swiped away manually with a two-finger motion. Most of the tools are self-explanatory and have been seen in other apps in the App Store, but this particular implementation of these utilities makes it worth walking through them step by step.

  • Flashlight: Uses the iPhone 4 and 4s LED light as a flashlight. Has a single button for power on and off. Nothing to see here, move along.
  • Plumb Bob: Has a nice little drawing of an actual plumb bob against a calming wood backdrop. Crossed red lines help you line your target, but it’s the camera feature that really makes this one stand out. Tap the camera icon and the wood background is replaced by a camera view, letting you line up the plumb bob with the real-world object you’re trying to straighten. Nice!
  • Bubble Level: This tool switches you to landscape mode, and the bubble level can be used with the device lying on its back or stood up on a long side. Nice additions to this screen include a “hold” button that toggles to lock the bubble in its current position (“See honey, the washing machine IS crooked!”), as well as a manual calibration button that will calibrate to “level” at whichever position the device is in. Toggle either button off to return the bubble to its normal position as reported by the on-board sensors.
  • Protractor: Now I’ve never seen this before on an iPhone. This doesn’t use any sensors, but you lie your device against something and then drag the handle on the protractor in order to measure an angle. Neat.
  • Ruler: This is really two tools in one. The ruler is the style where you just lay something against the iPhone and measure against the ruler on the screen. You can flip which side the inches and cm appear on, as well as flipping which direction the numbering starts. The neat-o button on this screen is the “caliper”, so you can line something up with the “zero” on the caliper and then drag the other end in order to get a more precise measurement. My favorite tool by far.
  • Last but not least, the unit conversion tool. Not just units of linear measurement but also energy, force, data, power, mass, temperature… you name it, you can probably convert it using this tool.

Pros And Cons

PocketTools is a great multi-tool app, and definitely my favorite out of all that I’ve seen. Rather than have 100 different screens of different icons for you to scroll through, the developers have chosen to focus on the handful that people would probably actually need, and then they’ve presented them in as pleasing and useful a fashion as possible. As I mentioned above, the inclusion of the calipers alone is by far my favorite tool and makes this a keeper on my device (and the inclusion of a flashlight tool means I can delete another app to make room for this one).

One niggling issue is the slow response on the very first launch of the unit conversion screen. It seems like every time I start the app cold (as opposed to when I’ve been using it recently), the unit conversion screen takes an extra few seconds to register the first tap. It’s a minor issue but a noticeable one in an otherwise mostly flawless utility.

Overall

If you need a multi-tool on your iOS device, this should definitely be one you take a look at. What it lacks in volume it more than makes up for in execution and the inclusion of great little extra features.

  • http://www.facebook.com/andrew.zimmer00 Andrew Zimmer

    I've been thinking about the ruler. I wonder if it's posible to measure greater distances (such as wall to wall in a house) by lining up one side of the phone with a wall, pressing start, and then moving it to the other wall gathering data from the accelerometer and gyroscope in conjunction..

    • creativemotionllc

      This was certainly a feature we honestly had suggested for development. However, the accelerometer does not make readings in a way that would make a feature like this in any way accurately feasible, as awesome at it is ūüôĀ

  • CreativeMotion

    Hey everyone, we had forgotten to mention that a free version of PocketTools was also developed and will be released in the app store soon! Look for it within the coming week!

  • Alex

    PocketTools FTW

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