Tap Tap Tap, the creator of Convert, knows beautiful, well-designed iPhone apps. It’s been behind the very slick book reading app, Classics and the stellar GPS app Where To. So it’s no surprise that this unit conversion application is a piece of iPhone beauty and useful to boot.
Convert offers you 15 different types of unit conversion, from basics like area, angle, weight, volume, length, and temperature, to the more technical such as energy, currency, force, pressure, power, and typography. That’s more unit types than what’s offered by the free Units app but it’s less than what’s offered by the similarly priced but equally beautiful and well designed Convertbot. Unlike either of those programs, Convert also includes a basic, built-in calculator.
Convert’s conversion interface consists of three spinning wheels, a calculator-like keypad, and something Tap Tap Tap refers to as a “Magic Lens,” which is used for selecting and displaying your conversion information. The spinning wheel furthest to the left is used to select the general category of units you want to convert, such as Length, and the next two spinning wheels display the specific types of units you want to convert, such as Inches to Millimeters. Once you select the specifics of what you want to convert, you use the calculator keypad to enter the number you want to convert and the results will display beneath the Magic Lens.
Convert has two features that were added to ConvertBot shortly after Convert’s release: Calculator functionality in conversions and copy-and-paste. For example, if you need to quadruple a recipe for cookies but can’t figure out how many cups the 5 tablespoons of vanilla the recipe calls for should be, choose the volume converter, select Tablespoons – > Cups, type 5 then *4= on the calculator keypad and Convert will calculate the 1.25 cups that you need. Once you’re done, hold your finger on the total and the copy option will appear so you can copy and then paste the conversion total into another program.
As beautiful and well designed as Convert is, there are a couple of things that drive me nuts about the program. First, the calculator paradigm seems to stretch a bit too far if you type a wrong number in. Instead of being able to delete the one mistyped digit, you’ll have to touch the clear key and retype the whole number again. Second, sometimes the rolling wheels were jumpy, skipping over the conversion units that I wanted even though I thought I’d zeroed the wheel in under the Magic Lens.
Otherwise, Convert is a pretty stellar app. While it doesn’t offer all the conversion options of Convertbot, it does offer some features that Convertbot lacks, which is reason enough to give it a try.
[Jeffery Battersby is a writer and IT Manager for a New York-based law firm.]