There are many unit converters on the App Store. It’s the kind of app that looks easy to build, has lots of “meat” to work with and affords huge space to work in, in terms of design and visual language. Thus it’s no wonder that many app developers try their hand there.
When iOS 7 came out, I felt there’s an opportunity to do something in this space, for several reasons.
Units app is the result and I want to share some details of the design thinking behind it.
First reason – most of the existing converters on the market were built with emphasis on really strong, graphically heavy design. Most of them, especially the most successful ones, would find it really hard to shed their former UI and re-do from scratch. I know very well how hard that is – I did it with Banca and it’s a given that some chunk of your customer base will be…well, irked, to say the least.
Second – this app and this content is amazingly well suited to make good use of iOS 7 technologies, namely custom transitions. Hierarchical structure of the information lends itself very well to spatial transitions, where it’s paramount to keep the customer aware where they are in the sea of available content. You can see this in iOS 7 Calendar app and it fits perfectly here as well.
Third – and the most important – I was not aware of any unit converter that had the feature that I consider the most important to have. And that’s the headline Units’ feature – ability to compile a list of unit pairs, regardless of their category and have them all available on the same screen – the favorites.
That was the essential design goal. You need to have a broad unit support (I plan to add a lot more in upcoming updates) but most of the time you are really using just several well chosen pairs. For me, that list is:
- mph to km/h
- miles to kilometers
- square foots to square meters
- Fahrenheit degrees to Celsius
Possibly few others. And that’s it.
Forth – when I want to convert some units, I don’t want to hunt through menus and submenus and such – I want to type few letters and to find the proper unit. Hence the instant Search feature in Units, available from any screeen. Once you locate the unit you need, tap and it will open that unit’s category view, preselect the desired unit and instantly convert to all the other units in the category.
I strongly believe that Units is an excellent example of the kind of apps I want Radiant Tap to be known for – simple, efficient and beautiful. Take a look at the video below to see more. It’s a quick and dirty recording of what the app does – a better video is in the works, once few more UI improvements are implemented.
Units is available worldwide on the App Store, for $1.99 or local equivalent.