Developer: TapTapSoft
Price: $1.99
Version: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPod Touch 4g
iPhone Integration Rating: ★★★★½
User Interface Rating: ★★★★☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆
Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Point & Measure's help screenPoint & Measure wants to help you figure out the height and distance of objects around you. It does this by combining your iOS device’s built-in gyroscope with the magic of simple geometry: A² + B² = C², also known as the Pythagorean Theorem.

It would seem that this app could be used in a variety of different situations. For some reason, the first use case that popped into my head was taking the measurement of a tree before cutting it down; my dad cuts trees for firewood and figuring out how far the tree would fall is always the first order of business.  Other people could use it to figure out if that large potted tree will fit in your living room, or whether your four-poster bed will fit in the apartment you are considering renting. I imagine it might come in handy for golfers or anyone else who needs to estimate the distance to a given object.

The 45 foot microwave ovenI spent about an hour measuring everything in my apartment and even was able to calculate the square footage of several rooms correctly within a few feet. Almost immediately it became clear that accuracy depends greatly on steady hands; the same measurement can vary considerably depending on how precise your initial height setting is and how much you tilt the camera. Accuracy can be improved by setting your device on a stable surface. I tried lying on the floor of my kitchen to measure the height of my stove; this seemed to work better than standing in front of my microwave oven. Point & Measure has a built-in ability to snap a picture of an item and overlays the relevant measurements on it; it then asks if you want to save it or share it via several major social networks.

Application main screenPoint & Measure’s interface is fairly straightforward; it shows you a scope with a horizon line to help you line up the bottom of your object. Once you get what feels to be an accurate distance reading, you lock it in and then it calculates the height. From that point you can then snap a picture to save or share.

Point & Measure camera calibration screenThe app provides a “calibration” utility which you can use if you are getting consistently inaccurate results. It seemed to me that you are better off practicing your device holding strategy rather than tinkering with the calibration settings. My only big interface complaint is that I wish you were allowed to set your initial camera height in feet and inches, which is how the Imperial world tends to think (Point & Measure’s default is Metric).

About half the time the results you get with this app are clearly wrong, and about half the time they seem fairly accurate. I did better the more I practiced with it. I had much better luck taking measurements of far away objects, like trees and houses, rather than measurements of small objects under 3 feet height. Overall, for the price of $1.99, it’s worth having if you find yourself in situations where knowing heights and distances would be helpful.

Posted in: iPhone Apps and Games, Reviews, Utilities

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