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Collaborate On The Go With 37signal's Official Basecamp App For iPhone

February 11, 2013

Basecamp (Free) by 37signals is the official Basecamp app for your iPhone. Finally, after many numerous third-party clients, such as Headquarters and Outpost 2, 37signals has released their own app for the collaborative task management service.

We use Basecamp here at AppAdvice, so I was pretty excited to hear that they just came out with an official app. I have gone through my fair share of other Basecamp iPhone clients through the years. I love the sleek design of the Basecamp app, as well as the intuitive gestures that you use to navigate through the menus and various items.

First off, in order to use the app, you will need a Basecamp account, of course. However, be aware that this app will only work with the New Basecamp projects, but if you are still using Basecamp Classic, you won’t be able to use the app. This is rather disappointing.

Once you are logged in, you will be on the main screen, with all of your projects (as long as they are the new Basecamp). You can tap on any of them to select it and view the project, or you can even get an overview with “Progress.”

The search bar at the top allows you to search throughout all of your projects for certain keywords, which is pretty helpful. Results will reveal which project the item is in, as well as whether it is a to-do item, in a message, when it was posted, and etc. The word is also highlighted for easy skimming with the longer message excerpts.

The Progress screen is pretty nice, because it is a dashboard of everything that has been happening in your projects for today, yesterday, the day before that, and more. As you reach the bottom, Basecamp will load up more updates, so you never miss a thing. You are able to see forwarded emails, comments, moved tasks, new and reassigned task assignments, messages, due dates, and whatever else.

When you select a specific project, you will be on “Latest Project Updates” by default. This basically shows what you would see on Progress: the latest comments, messages, assigned tasks, and anything else that was just posted. It is a great compact way to get a summary at-a-glance.

To change your view, just tap on the button in the corner, which reveals a slick drop down menu: Latest project updates, Completed to-dos, Discussions, To-dos, Text Documents, Files, Forwarded emails, Upcoming dates, People on this project, and Project settings.

With the To-dos and Discussions, you are able to add new items to them. Discussions allows you to post a new message, and you can change the subject line, add your body text, add images as files, and change recipients. To-dos will give users the option to add to-do lists, or just add new items to existing lists.

Whenever you are adding a new message, list, or task, a panel will slide in from the right and sit on top of the previous screen (you can see a sliver of it on the left), kind of similar to how Twitter for iPad was with various views and links.

Forwarded emails will contain instructions to setup email forwarding to your Basecamp project, and if there are any text documents or files contained in the project, they will show up in their appropriate category. Unfortunately, you cannot add individual files or documents from the Basecamp app itself — you will have to attach files in a message, or upload documents from your desktop. I was hoping that you could upload from these screens, but alas, you cannot.

Upcoming Dates is useful to see what items are due today or later on in the week. It is a nice summary that allows you to keep on top of your stuff, as well as your team. You can also add new events here as well. Project settings allows you to star/unstar projects for easier access, and the People screen allows you to send out invites to the project if needed.

So far, I find the official Basecamp to be a sleek solution for accessing Basecamp while on-the-go. I hope that it will get a native iPad version as well in the near future. However, the biggest pet peeve is that it is not compatible with Basecamp Classic.

Some of us are unable to convert our projects to the new Basecamp because they took away features with the new version, so we remain on Classic. However, the app does not work with Classic at all, and you won’t even see your Classic projects listed in the project list. Once again, 37signals shafts Classic users, and we’re stuck either using the mobile web version or relying on unsupported third-party solutions that barely work.

However, if you are only using the new Basecamp, then this app is a great way to manage your projects while on-the-go, minus some flaws such as not being able to upload files or documents directly. If you are still a Basecamp Classic user (for many understandable reasons), then don’t even bother with this app.

You can get Basecamp for your iPhone for free in the App Store.

Mentioned apps

Outpost 2 - Basecamp® for the iPhone & iPad
Outpost 2 - Basecamp® for the iPhone & iPad

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