iAmCharded!_1

UPDATE 10-4-2009:

See Developer’s response at the end of the review

Overview

We’ve all asked ourselves at one time or another, “If I plug my phone in now how much of a charge can I get before I have to leave?”, well the developer of iAmCharged!, Vladimir Kofman attempts to help us answer that question. iAmCharged! analyzes your device’s battery and tells you how long it will take to get a complete charge. Seems to me just about everyone would be in the market for an app like this one. Haven’t we all had those days where we’re too busy to charge but low on juice? You guys know what I’m talking about, so that’s why I downloaded iAmCharged! without a second thought. Let’s see how well the app works.

Features

iAmCharged! SettingsFirst of all, iAmCharged! is super easy to use. You simply start iAmCharged! and plug your iPhone or iPod Touch into your computer or wall charger. Let’s take a look at the features and settings iAmCharged! has to offer:

  • iAmCharged! analyzes the battery and then tells you how long it will take to complete a full charge.
  • You can set iAmCharged! to alert you when the device reaches either a fast charge or a complete charge.
  • iAmCharged! has two display settings, my favorite is the countdown timer, the second is a large battery percentage display.
  • iAmCharged! has a cool graphing feature that shows you how your iPhone or iPod Touch charges over time.
  • The developer included seven cool alert sounds that can be set to custom interval.

I set iAmCharged! to alert me when my iPhone reaches a complete fast charge, I really dig that option. Usually when I am busy an 80% fast charge will do, so an alert at that point gives me the option of grabbing my baby and hitting the bricks.

The Breakdown

Let’s take iAmCharged! and break it down into two chunks, the good and the bad.

The Good

One thing iAmCharged! does well is simplicity. iAmCharged! is one of those straight to the point apps and I personally find that refreshing. Sometimes apps have way too many unrelated features and you have to wade through them to get to the core functionality, but you don’t have to deal with that here. iAmCharged! is compact and it has a small footprint so it won’t take up much space on your device.

The Bad

Unfortunately there can be a negative flip side to simplicity and iAmCharged! suffers from it.  iAmCharged! is as bare bones as you can get and it is glaring in the UI because it is boring as all-get-out.  We all know that third-party apps can’t run in the background so you will need to leave the app open for it to do its thing. That means that iAmCharged! will be the first thing you see when you look at your device because the device won’t sleep while the app is open. You can see now that you’ll spend quite a bit of time looking at iAmCharged!, and I don’t know about you, but if I have to stare at an app I want it to look good.

One other nitpick thing that caught my attention is the remaining charge percentage in iAmCharged! didn’t match what my iPhone reported as the remaining charge percentage. What’s up with that?!  I just couldn’t shake the fact that I couldn’t figure out which percentage was correct. Yes, it is probably my OCD kicking it but after I saw that I couldn’t concentrate, I kept wanting it to catch up and match.

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iAmCharged doesn’t quite do the job that it’s supposed to, so I’m not feelin’ the app right now.  To be honest though, I don’t think that is the developer’s fault because Apple has the platform locked down too tight.  Since this app is a utility app I bet getting it through the approval app was tough.  What would I like to see in the app?

First, I’d like to be able to use other apps while iAmCharged! is doing its’ thing, that’s a pretty sensible request right? You and I know though, that there is no way that will ever happen. I’d also like to have an option to put the countdown to charge timer in the taskbar. Before you bust out laughing, I know that it’s never going to happen.

Comparison

Right now there isn’t another app of this kind in the App Store so if you are dying to have this type of functionality then you only have one choice. The great thing is that the developer appears to be very responsive and he’s basically begging for feature requests, so if you decide to buy the app take him up on it

The Verdict

I was excited about iAmCharged! when I read the description in the App Store. I downloaded it right away and played around with it, but I have to say I got bored with it quickly. iAmCharged! doesn’t seem polished enough for me right now.  One positive thing I see is that the developer has a great idea but he needs to cook it a bit more and add some flavor.  Another thing iAmCharged! has in its’ favor is that the developer seems extremely eager to engage iAmCharged! users, and that is rare.  So maybe with a little work, some time, and user input the developer could have a real gem on his hands.

Developer’s Response

The Developers of iAmCharged! Reached out to discuss some of current shortcoming of the app as well as discuss future plans for iamCharged! updates.

  • “Background mode”: Unfortunately until Apple changes its’ API, iAmCharged! like any other application cannot run in the background. This is however not a deficiency of the app but instead the OS.
  • “Boring UI”: While by default the iPhone will not be put into sleep, while iAmCharged! is running, the user can put it into sleep manually. (We may add a user setting for this in the coming next version). The alert function will still work. Any ideas for a less boring UI would be very welcome, though the idea was to give the important information regarding the charging status and not an entertaining UI. The use case for this app was mainly that the user will plug the phone into the charger and launch the application and forget about it, until the alarm alerts the charge completion. We did not expect. the user will watch for 2 hours at the app until charging is completed. We will think how to change this maybe in the 3rd release.
  • “difference of percentage between OS and iAmCharged!”: This is actually something we noticed early on, but could not help. By Apple policy, we are bound to use the official API call for requesting the battery percentage. However it turns out that the percentage reported by the API differs from the percentage displayed by the OS ( in the upper right corner of the iPhone). Unless Apple fixes/changes this, we unfortunately cannot do something about this.
  • What can we expect next from iAmCharged!?  According to the developer we should see:

    • New cool alert sounds
    • Alert volume control
    • Usability fixes
    • and more…