Version Reviewed: 1.3.2
iPhone Integration Rating:
User Interface Rating:
Re-use / Replay Value Rating:
There's nothing quite like realizing that you've got an essay due at 10pm the night before, but most of us students aren't exactly good at keeping our agendas straight...especially if you're like me, and your agenda gets "stolen" by the third week of school. An iPod or iPhone, however, is harder to lose, and if you have the right app, it can replace your paper agenda entirely. iHomework is a fairly robust agenda app that just might do the trick for you.
iHomework categorizes your assignments on a course-based system (as well as by due date), so it's prudent to switch first to the Courses tab and enter in all of your classes. For each course, a name is required (duh!); optional fields include the teacher's name, a location, time, website, and grading options. When you add a teacher, you have to either pull their info from your contacts or add them to your contacts. Some will find this to be annoying, but I liked the comprehensive nature of this approach; not having to re-add contact info is always a plus in my book. For the grade settings, you can use either the regular scheme (points-based) or the advanced grading scheme, where certain types of assignments are given different weights. For example, Quizzes might be worth 20% and Homework could be worth 50% of your final grade. All in all, adding courses is a painless process, and this step goes by quickly.
From there, you can head on over the Assignments tab, which is where your work goes. When you add a new assignment, you must select a name, a type (quiz/homework/etc), a due date, a course, and a priority level (this defaults to "High"). You can also add notes or enter a grade. Adding assignments like this might be tricky if you wait until the bell to type them in, but that's generally a problem no matter what.
When viewing assignments, you can sort them by day, week, or by course. There's a color-coding system, too, and while it's initially set to color based on deadlines, you can change this in the Settings app so that your assignments are colored based on type. By tapping on an assignment, you can view it in more detail and edit its information; from the standard view, however, you can still mark things as complete with a simple tap of a finger.
You can also add reminders (as in: It's so-and-so's birthday!) in the Reminders pane. However, these reminders don't actually "remind" you of anything unless you specifically check the app. It's definitely a useful feature to have, but unless you're using iHomework dutifully, you might forget to look. Then again, why wouldn't you check your planner every day?
The interface is clean and polished all-around, iPhone-style. Everything looks completely natural and very similar to the OS, and it all works as you'd expect. It's clear that thought went into this app. For example, when you view a course, there's an option to see all assignments, complete and incomplete, that have been entered in the app. The versatile grading system virtually guarantees that dutiful users can check their grades anywhere (assuming you get your grades back in a timely manner!), though with the proliferation of online grade systems, this is less of a need than it used to be. And I do appreciate the wealth of information that can be added about each course and each instructor---you can even add additional teachers to a course, so TA's needn't be left out.
Sure, there are some things that could be added. Some sort of desktop syncing would be nice in case the app crashes, I wish that the settings weren't located in the Settings app; yes, Apple recommends this, but I personally never look there, and having the reminders pop up just like calendar notifications would be another nice feature, but all in all, iHomework is a robust, well-designed app that does its job, and does it well. I, for one, plan to use it during this year in lieu of an agenda. At least I won't lose my iPod...it's attached to my hip!