Outpost was developed by Morfunk, a small developer based inÂ Philadelphia. Since it’s announcement few months ago, there has been a lot of attention andÂ excitementÂ around Outpost. We were very pleasedÂ to hear that few days ago OutpostÂ was submitted to the AppStore. We have been sent a pre-release to have a play with so here is what we think.
37signalsÂ are known for theirÂ widely acclaimed set of web applications forÂ organisingÂ teams built onÂ simplicity and effectiveness. Basecamp is one their feature productsÂ with comprehensive support for projects, message exchange, milestones, to-dos, timekeeping and writeboards. Designing an iPhone app to support basecamp is not just a technicalÂ challengeÂ but also a design one whereÂ 37Signals simplicity, clarity and ease of use may be aÂ challengeÂ to communicate.
We are very pleased to say thatÂ Outpost feels like an app built byÂ 37Signals.Â There is a great sense of care taken into the layout, navigation and functionality. Whilst some design elements are SDK defaults, little colourisation to the menu bar, already familiar basecamp identifiers and comment icons really help translate design values of 37Signals.Â The core functionality of is translated very well too. Similar to the Basecamp webapp, the app has been organised in such a way to differentiate activities relating to you and those inherit to the project. Bottom bar lists all the activities related to you whilst the navigation via the projects shows all the activities related to that particular project.Â
When you first open the application you are greeted with a welcome screen and fields to add you Basecamp credentials including the URL where your account is located. This is followed by a sync, copying data from your Basecamp account to your iPhone.Â The first syncÂ can take up to 5 minutes or more. Our took around 2, with around 25 projects and so so data. When you update or add new content changes are automaticallyÂ uploaded to the server. This may appear slightly slow at times especially when you are finished with the app and need to wait for the sync to complete but this could be partly blamed on Apple for not allowing processes to run or at least finish in the background.Â We have also foundÂ occasional slowdowns, especially when trying to assign one of your team members to the task. AlthoughÂ the app is designed to work off line, at times, it appears that the slowdowns are a result of the app syncing the data on the go. Interestingly it is important to note that the Outpost team have gone through greatÂ lengthsÂ to minimise syncing time, ie syncing only your most accessed projects but unfortunately when accessingÂ buriedÂ data things can get a little slow.
Other features are as you would expect. Its is very easy to navigate the projects, flip rotation to access the project is a nice touch, avatars in comments are great and there is really very little you would want to change. Nevertheless there are features we would like to see in the future. MostÂ importantly, access to “Time” on Basecamp as well as some form of support for files, PDFs at least. Compared to other iPhone Basecamp applications available in the AppStore such as GroundworkÂ and Projects, Outpost is definitely most appealing. Groundwork offers very similar features but can be slightly slow at times as the data is loaded on the go. Projects on the other hand includes additional features such as Time but seriously lacks attention to detail that comes naturally toÂ Outpost. If you are considering the price, Outpost isÂ $12.99, almostÂ tripleÂ than Groundwork ($3.99) and slightly more expensive than ProjectsÂ ($9.99). The choice is going to be hard especially because none of these apps offer lite/trial versions.
If you are looking for an app that resembles simplicity and beautyÂ of Basecamp,Â Outpost should be your number one choice. If, on the other hand, you are after the features, ‘time’Â particularly,Â Projects is the app to have. Finally, if you thinkÂ $12.99 orÂ $9.99 is too much to shell out for an app/service you may not use that often then you should considerÂ Groundwork ($3.99). We own all three but it is theÂ Outpost that has taken position on the first home screen. See below for video walkthrough and screens of the app.
Version: 1.0 (Pre-Release)
Posted on: 05/12/2008