The new LibraryThing iOS app review

App Name: LibraryThing
Related Website: http://www.librarything.com
Version reviewed: 1.0.1
Price: Free

Release Date: 19 October 2015

Introduction
LibraryThing this year is celebrating its 10th anniversary as an online service. It is a book cataloging service for creating database of your books as well as connecting you to other people with similar reading interests. This is its first iOS app for its cataloging service (it has produced other apps not related to its original function).

As of writing it has nearly 2 million members whom have cataloged over 100 million books.

Design
The app has a three-tab layout, a Home, Your Catalog and Add to Catalog tabs. The Home tab brings up five icons, a Your Catalog, Add to Catalog, Cover Explorer, News and Account icon. The Your Catalog and Add to Catalog icons lead to the other two tabs. So essentially there are three new functions in this tab.

The Cover Explorer brings up a list of groupings of covers related to your books. The groups include Amazon Covers, Low and High Quality Members Covers. The News icon brings up a list of news about LibraryThing ordered by date. The Account icon brings up information about the login, settings for your choice of cover upload size and app version information.

The Your Catalog tab gives you a list of collections you can tap to view. This can either be a list or cover view. In the cover view you can further tap the cover to view the book details.

The Add to Catalog tab shows you your recently added books and allows you to add books by input search or camera barcode scan.

Usability (Simplicity)
The app is highly usable in that the three tab layout is easy to understand although the repeat of Your Catalog and Add to Catalog icons in the Home tab is redundant. I am guessing they were included because of the lack of content in this tab. Inclusion however does not harm its usability.

Usability (Usefulness)
Rather than being a book catalog viewer only the app can act as an input device. This was not available as an option for smartphones until now so it is welcome and perhaps long overdue. The ability to scan barcodes make this app highly usable.

Conclusion
Ten years ago when LibraryThing first came into being smartphones were almost non-existent. The website had not been designed with smartphone technology in mind. The timing therefore meant that sites which came into existence later had a head start to smartphone applicability (BookBuddy was ahead of its time with barcode scanning). This had meant that until now only desktop input was possible. With the bulk input disabled sometime after its launch this had meant that inputting books was a difficult and tedious task. With this new app LibraryThing may just have rejuvenated itself as a player in this day and age of smartphone dominance.

Pros

  • Simple easy-to-navigate design
  • barcode scan enabled

Cons

  • No groups and talk access
  • No iPad version available

(Rating: 4 out of 5)

Skitch – Quick Review

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Have you ever wanted to annotate an image to highlight something important and had to resort to low-tech techniques like using the default Paint program in Windows? Are you looking for a better alternative? Look no further. Skitch is the quick and easy way to add annotation to your images.

Overview
Skitch, by Evernote, is a free app (iOS and Android) and software (Windows and Mac) to annotate images or PDF files. You can select import images from your camera roll, snap a photo, digital maps, webpage, draw a simple diagram or PDF (purchase required) directly in the app.

You can add mosaic, various arrows, emoticon arrows, draw, add shapes and text with this tool. There are eight colours (black, white, pink, blue, green, yellow, orange and red) five pen sizes in all of the tools bar mosaic. You can even undo or clear all annotations, and crop as well as rotate your images.

Sharing in Skitch is easy also. You can make an Evernote link and publish directly to Twitter and Facebook, send in Message and Mail. You can also share directly onto your iCloud enabled Calendar to schedule as a meeting diagram.

There are various options for saving your image as well. You can do this by saving to Evernote (obviously), save to clipboard and also to your camera roll. You can also send directly via AirDrop, attach it to a contact or print via AirPrint.

And once you’re ready to save or send you can add a caption to your image.

Additional settings include linking to your Evernote account and choosing which calendar to attach to. You can also set Skitch to automatically resize your canvas, turn on quick markup in camera mode and copy to your camera roll after sharing. And if you are sending via email or SMS the Skitch promo text can be appended to the end of your message.

Quick Review
Skitch does pretty much what I need it to do specially for photo images. And it does it well – really well – even on the small iPhone screen. The design is intuitive with side swiping for your main tools.

However, more features would be welcome for annotating maps. Drawing paths and routes to take was not easy on the iPhone and had worked much better on the iPad with a stylus.

One main disappointment was that the mosaic tool is not available in the PDF markup purchase. I had specifically purchased it for this tool so that I can mosaic out students’ names for presentation on the projection screen or CALL monitors. Not only was that not written up clearly (I had to look hard to find the disclaimer) but that it seems not to be diffcult to include. Considering the iOS purchase was $2 USD it wasn’t such a big deal but still it was a disappointment.

Summary
Still I am happy with this app. The software version, compared to the app version, is a bit slow and heavy like all software on traditional computers. It is handy to have especially on web-connected devices but for me it is still a low-usage app requiring preparation rather than being a tool to be used in class on the fly where I do most of my editing. And the PDF markup feature may not be worth the $2 USD pricetag since I can do most of my same annotations on the free Adobe Reader app.

Note: This review pertains to the iOS app version only, not the Windows or MAC versions. The version used for this review was 3.2.1 (3940).

Zamurai Mobile Whiteboard – Short Review

Back in the 1990s I was fascinated with electronic whiteboards. These things work like ordinary whiteboards on which you would write then press a button to print the content of the whiteboard for copying and distribution. It was better than taking a photograph, print or nowadays digital. The problem back then and still now is the prohibitive cost and that of the single format in the form of a physically printed page.

Now fast forward to 2014.

45NxYn2jsJgYg0yJNsFjOw-Zamurai_Logo_HorizontalZamurai Mobile Whiteboard is an app for the Apple iPad that works like a whiteboard for projectors. You simply write, draw or attach images to your tablet whiteboard space and it shows up on the big screen during meetings or in lectures. It is better than a whiteboard – electronic or otherwise – because you don’t need to physically be at the board. The physical act of drawing and writing is translated on to gestures you make on a tablet surface. It will also automatically be saved on your device as a note, or to be used in future meetings or lectures, or else can be saved for distribution later in various useful formats. Finally you can supplement it with image icons and digital images to make electronic whiteboarding just like old fashion displaying of photos and pictures.

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Manage your extensive reading lending library with BookBuddy

Do you run an extensive reading (ER) course? Do you have trouble keeping track of book in your lending library? If you said yes, to both questions then this may be the solution for you.

BookBuddy 4.0 is an iPhone and iPad, iPod Touch app. Features include:

  • barcode scanning
  • online ISBN search and save
  • backup database to the cloud (only Dropbox at the moment)
  • organize into customizable categories
  • keep track of when and to whom your books have been lent to
  • keep track of books you have borrowed from friends
  • ‘star’ books for easy access
  • status sharing on your social networks

The simply designed interface is very easy to use and navigate. The BookBuddy Lite does everything the paid version does except for a limit to 50 books. Purchase the full version for cataloguing more than 50 books. There is only one drawback: the app is, at, the time of writing USD$4.99. This is expensive when compared to other similar apps but still cheaper than many desktop-based solutions.

From an academic standpoint also it is worth the money. it means you can also use it to keep track of your personal and academic book lending libraries at the same time.

My rating:  4 out of 5

It is comparatively expensive and no barcode scanning for non-English books (you need to do a Search Online for finding book info here … hopefully for now).