Developer: iPhone Studio
Price: $2.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.1   

Visuals Rating: ★☆☆☆☆
iPhone Integration Rating: ★★☆☆☆
User Interface Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★☆☆☆

After reading all of the features of this app I was really excited to check it out. It turned out to be one of the biggest letdown non-game apps I’ve tried so far. It’s important to know that I’m reviewing the paid version of the app, not the free one. The free version is rather effective as a shopping list (though extremely dull looking and featureless).

img_00212The basic feature of mShopping includes the ability to make a list with as much detail as you’d like to add to it. Obviously aimed at shopping (groceries, etc), the fields you can enter information in when adding a new item are: name, maker, model, note, price, quantity, web, and date. All are self-explanatory except for “web” – when clicking on this field the name of the item is automatically entered into Amazon, Google, or Yahoo (your choice via the bookmark symbol in the bottom right of the browser). The self-entering text and the choice of the different websites are great features but not enough. First of all, you cannot enter a website manually. This means that if you know exactly where your item is on the internet, you’ll have to go through Google or Yahoo until you find it – this is completely unacceptable to me, why not just give the option? Other features include showing/not showing checked off items and deleting checked off or all items on a list.

The previous paragraph basically exhausts the free edition. That’s all it does. Enter the item information and it appears on the list. Now to the differences between the paid version and the free version (in other words, the reasons not to buy the app):

The paid version allows the addition of categories and tags to you’re “shopping list.” Some preloaded (and not customizable I might add) categories include: DVD, Books, Music, Grocery, Electronics, etc. Seeing things like DVD, Books, and Music might give you the idea that you can catalog your media with this app – exactly the reason why I decided to review it.

Categories and Tags
You can catalog your media, but you wont be happy with it. Let’s start with Books. I decided to attempt to catalog some of my novels. The first thing that I encountered was that there is no “author” field, nor is there any customizable field where I can create the name of the field. Therefore, the only way to add the author’s name to the new item and still have the author’s name show up on the list is to write it in the “note” field.img_00271 This would be fine but it doesn’t give me an ability to search books by author since it’s a note, and in this app, you can’t search by anything other than category and tag. I thought about making the tag the author’s name but this would leave me with two problems: the author’s name wouldn’t show up on the list and if I put the author’s name in tags I would have over 100 tags (which I don’t want to do since the application doesn’t give a “genre” field and that’s would I would have to use the tags for). mShopping works alright with DVDs but it still isn’t enough for me. You can add a picture, but it doesn’t show up on this list, so visually mShopping just looks bad cataloging media. All you see is the name of the DVD, BORING!

mShopping also added a dock at the bottom of the paid version to sort items by Tag, Category, and Date added. But then again, this shouldn’t be looked upon as a great development – if this wasn’t added there would barely be any use for adding tags, categories, or dates. Also, you can change the tag or category of an entire list at the same time. Go to the tag or category button at the bottom, select the list you’d like to change, and press the small, tag-looking button. The problem I encountered here was that you cannot change the tag to all items listed under “No Tags”, which is the only reason I would want to change the tags for multiple items. If you’re only able to change the tag or category of items already possessing a tag or category, then it isn’t really changing the tags of multiple items, but just renaming the tag or category – big deal…

At first a seemingly great feature, turned useless – photos. mShopping gives you the option to add up to three photos to each item, great idea iPhone Studio, but you ruined it. The picture doesn’t show up on the list as a thumbnail (which to me would be the only reason to add a photo), so the only way to view these pictures are to press the item and scroll down. Why can’t I see the photo on the list, mShopping? Or better yet, give me a photo-only view of the list option. iPhone Studio focused too much on the wrong aspects of this photo feature. The useful feature of adding the photo from the registered website is included. I like this a lot, it saves me from having to take pictures of all of my DVDs, Books, and CDs. img_00362Photos

The problem with mShopping is that the app isn’t visually pleasing or useful enough for me to want to catalog all my media with it in the first place. Maybe the photo idea wasn’t for the media cataloging purpose but the shopping list, but why do that? When you’re going grocery shopping do you need a picture of a loaf of bread to know to buy some bread? Or when you’re going to buy some CDs, do you really need the cover art to effectively find your CD or even want the picture of an item you’re going to delete from the database after purchased?

Series of items. I’ll give a slight tip of my hat to this feature, great idea. It’s very simple – press the button with multiple plus signs instead of just one and mShopping will bring up the New Item screen again but with all of the information you inputed into the last item already filled in. This works great when adding multiple items with some of the same information – tag, category, maker, etc. I have no problems or suggestions for this feature, except maybe to change the title at the top from “New Item” to “Series Item” – I didn’t realize what the multiple plus sign did at first because I couldn’t tell the difference between the “New Item” screen and the series screen (probably because I hit the series button before I added any items to the app).

As I said above, if you need an app as a shopping list, go for it and grab the free version… but under no circumstances should anyone waste the $2.99 on the paid version. If you’re in dire need to buy an app to catalog your media (as I am), look elsewhere. I am currently on the lookout for one and will post a review as soon as possible.

Posted in: iPhone Apps and Games, Productivity, Reviews

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