There’s no shortage of conversion utilities available for iOS, but very few of them have a keen eye for design. Even fewer are beautifully designed while offering professionals the things they need to get their work done. So many conversion calculators are happy to be only glorified calculators, still relying too much on human measurement and inaccuracies. Vert is one of the rare few that excels at everything it does, and looks beautiful to boot.
I reviewed Vert for iPhone when it was initially released, and was thrilled when they got in touch with me to announce an iPad version. The iPad edition is everything the iPhone version was, and then a little more. Read on to find out why this might become your favourite conversion tool while you’re on the job.
Beauty in the Details
The first thing you’re going to notice is the interface, which is simple, beautiful, and — most importantly — highly functional. Whether you hold your iPad in portrait or keep it in landscape mode, the app always guides your eye with brilliant themes and an interface that highlights just the right amount of information. There are a ton of included themes — and happily, none of them are held back by an in-app purchase paywall — so you’ll have no problem finding the set of colours that look least distracting.
For me, after some extensive fiddling with the iPhone app, I left it at the initial theme since that had the boldest contrast to my eyes. Some of these themes are a little lost on the iPad because they coordinated best with the iPhone 5c’s multiple colours, but I can appreciate them nonetheless.
You’re also going to notice huge scrolling icons for picking items you need to convert. As I wrote in my original review, I think the UIPicker in iOS 7 is a little broken (there’s a great writeup on it if you’re interested). Having huge toggles and selectors makes it a lot easier for me to use the app.
Favourites and Categories
The app uses favourites for finding something quickly later. I’ve favourited the categories and tools I’m likely to use most. For me, these lie in the realm of Typography, Distance, and some other simple tools. The typography category is indispensable for me, particularly as a graphic designer working within print. I love knowing how big a font can be within a predefined measurement; it makes my client work way easier.
The categories themselves are all rather in-depth: there’s no shortage of categories like Cooking, Data Size, Density, bra cup sizes, hat sizes, and even suit sizes. If you’re into rock climbing, you’ll appreciate the app’s conversion tool for me. (I don’t rock climb at the gym, so I’m afraid I’m at a bit of a loss as to what the terms even mean.)
You can mark Categories and units of measurement as favourites. For me, that means it’s very easy to just tap the Star to reveal only my favourites and quickly get to Currency and USD->CAD. That’s an important part of the app for me, and it really cuts down on the amount of time I have to spend exploring for the tools I need. I’ve written about this countless times, but it reveals a respect for the user that I definitely appreciate.
The Little Touches
Perhaps more important, though is the app’s built-in calculator. I wouldn’t use it for complicated BEDMAS equations (it’s not a scientific calculator), but for simple and quick calculations, it’s hard to beat the convenience. It’s built right into the app and it’s easy to use. Its layout doesn’t have any nostalgia factor for an old real-world calculator and properly takes advantage of the iPad’s screen space, which I think is a good thing.
The app also has a much-improved Search function since the last time I used it. It’s a lot easier to find Units of measurement than it was before. For example, searching for “CAD” or “Canada” will both bring up the Canadian dollar. If you’re looking for the United Kingdom’s GBP, you can search for “gbp”, “British pound sterling”, or “United Kingdom” and get a result. This is because the Search now lets you find results across the CODE or NAME of any unit, and the even the country for currencies. It’s a great improvement to what was already a highly-functional system.
That all being said, nothing is perfect. While there are some great additional new features in the update, including the ability to choose which feature will Launch automatically when you start the app, there are still some nagging flaws.
The first is some missing Unit conversion tools that some people may find handy. For example, one astute reader pointed out in the comments of my iPhone review that he wished the app included pixel to em conversions for the Typography category. As somebody who uses this category all the time, I think he’s absolutely right.
The flaw isn’t that there’s the occasional Unit missing — that’s to be expected — but that Vert is on the expensive side for conversion tools (a sale price of $1.99 is a luxury purchase when there are so many free options available). That’s not a bad thing per se, but it means that there can’t be any Units missing.
Finally, the one nagging flaw I have with the app is the Favourites function. In itself, it’s not bad, but over time, I’ve found double-tapping on a Star to favourite a Unit or Category is a little cumbersome. A single tap should be more than sufficient enough, especially since double-tapping is not a particularly common iOS trick. As soon as you favourite an item, the Star goes from hollow to filled, and that should only take one tap. It’s less to learn for most users, and thus less to forget about.
At the end of the day, with my slight niggling concerns aside, Vert is still my favourite iOS conversion tool. With the move to a universal app, the app becomes a handy desk reference tool when I’m working on projects for my clients. I can see it being tremendously handy in a ton of different workforces as well. For $1.99, you’re not going to find many (if any) conversion apps that are as beautifully designed and feature-complete as Vert.