iHandy Level – ****
Thirteen-year-old Connor Mulcahey made headlines last week when he downloaded the billionth app in Apple’s “Billion App Countdown Promotion.” As the grand prizewinner, he’s now enjoying a bunch of Apple gear and a $10,000 iTunes gift card to purchase more gadgets, games and gags for his iDevices.
While many of the top selling apps only cost a buck, this is a huge business for Apple–and the iTunes app store opened its doors only nine months ago. I’m probably not the target customer for much of what’s available and have only a handful of these apps. However, the easy impulse buy can be addictive, (I’ve just downloaded “Flashlight” while writing this) and I have become reliant on some of these. I wake up in the morning to the gentle strumming guitar available on “Nightstand’s” alarm clock. I improve my vocabulary and spelling with “Dictionaire.” My kids love “Koi Pond” and “Brushes” is great for quick design doodling. However, “Pocket Guitar” leaves me longing for my Fender Telecaster and as for iFart and iBeer… well, let’s move on.
One app in particular is quite ingenious and employs the iPhone’s built-in accelerometer to great effect. The iHandy Level, one of five tools in the iHandy Carpenter suite, is a virtual bubble level and is very cool. Just to be certain, I calibrated it with my “real” bubble level, and then began straightening picture frames around my house. It works and it even allows you to adjust the bubble sensitivity for greater accuracy. The illustrative design of the interface mimics the look of real tools in nice detail including the feel of machined metal and wood grain. Now, I might not trust this for serious measurement, due to the short 3-inch span of the iPhone screen, but as a portable design aid it’s pretty sweet.
By the way, the desk I’m sitting at is –2.1 degrees off level.
The “Yes to Less” rating is based on three criteria: beauty, ingenuity, and functionality. Designs can earn as many as five stars (“Flawless”), or as few as one (“Clueless.” )
Readers are invited to nominate design examples–from the brilliant to the egregious–for Carbone’s consideration. Email him at: kensblog (at) carbonesmolan (dot) com.
Ken Carbone is the cofounder of Carbone Smolan, a design and branding agency in New York.