February 11th in iPhone & iPad Apps by .

Simple Physics App – simply addictive

So much potential in this instantly addictive app, but let down by some odd interface decisions and even bigger niggle… read to find out our thoughts. Simple Physics was recommended …

So much potential in this instantly addictive app, but let down by some odd interface decisions and even bigger niggle… read to find out our thoughts.

Simple Physics was recommended to me by a colleague on Friday, and by Friday night I was hooked to the point that you played it even after coming back from the pub in small hours.

The concept is simple. You have a series of engineering problems to design solutions for, using straight pieces of timber, concrete, or steel depending on what level you’re on. There’s a tutorial which starts you off and gives you a quick and simple route to getting stuck in to the app from the off.

To add an extra element to the challenges, you also earn stars for for coming in under budget ie using as pieces as possible. And there are different maximum lengths of material you can use on each level to make it a little more taxing.

Once you’re done you can test the strength of your solution to see if it can withstand the necessary forces upon it (such as weight, strong wind, rotation and gravity etc). If you’ve not engineered a strong enough design, the structure will collapse under testing. You get unlimited attempts to refine and re-test which is where it really becomes addictive.

If you’re into problem solving then this really is a superb app to get you thinking.

Simple Physics app

So whats wrong?

Well despite loving this app very quickly, we also had a few things we didn’t like which have given us a problem recommending it. The interface for a start isn’t ideal. It seemed too easy to be removing sections of construction rather than adding them, and vice versa as the toggle between them wasn’t clear enough at a glance. Which was frustrating at times!

Even worse, to test your new design, you have to perform three ‘clicks’ in different areas of the screen. This is rather annoying when you’re trying your solutions out, see they fail, then make changes and try again. A single ‘test’ button on the screen would be much better.

There are lots of little ‘tools’ for editing, seeing blue prints, trying out tension strength by ‘pulling’ and pushing on parts of your model. But to be honest, we never used them. It all seems a bit of a waste and got in the way of the fun. It’s all a bit ‘wordy’ too.

The app runs on iphone and ipad, although we did find it annoying on iPhone that even with our not-so-fat fingers, we were getting lots of times where the piece we wanted to lay was not going in the place we wanted to the ‘back’ or ‘undo’ button was used a LOT. Much better for iPad really in this case (even though there is a pinch zoom function, we didn’t find it that practical when eager to lay our new section and test it quickly).

The above we think could be tarted up very easily with a bit of advice to the developer from a user interface pro. We’re getting the impression that the app was maybe designed by a programmer, the user interface has taken perhaps second place to the science behind making the engineering functions work nicely?

And finally, the biggest problem with the app in our mind… only 10 levels. By level we mean here, 10 problems which need an engineering solution / design. Some of the levels can be completed, if you’re thinking straight, in just a few minutes. So there’s really not many hours of game play here at all. Especially when you consider the app is a ‘whopping’ £1.49 on the App Store!! Even at .69p I would’ve wanted at least twice as many levels, if not more. But seriously, for £1.49 I was expected MUCH more. The game is really let down by this. In fact it’s the single reason I would not recommend spending your hard earned iTunes cash on this app.

We strongly advise the developer to sort this out because it could be a truly GREAT app. I’m no programmer, but I would’ve thought that this sort of thing once the hard work of coding the physics and gravity etc is done, then adding more levels is relatively painless. It’s the progress of working through the levels which keeps people coming back for more and getting more and more hooked and talking about it to friends resulting in more downloads and more cash for the developer. After 10 levels, you’re really only just warming up, and it leaves you feeling rather, well, disappointed to say the least. After doing the first ten in just a couple of hours, I thought I was then going onto stage 2 with another 10 levels to test me… perhaps some new elements added such as moving parts or whatever. But nothing. Just an invite to download another app (Santa’s Engineer) which is free on the app store but again, only 5 levels on this one.

Today’s Top Tech Review Our overall rating:   3/5

What we liked…
  • Instantly addictive, like, REALLY addictive
  • Watching your design being tested is great
  • Great variety in the levels
What we weren’t so keen on…
  • Only 10 levels, so finished in just couple of hours
  • Over priced for what you get
  • Interface needs overhaul

Vital info

Software: Simple Physics

Supplier: Andrew Garrison

Website:Apple App Store

Price: £1.49

UPDATE: We’ve since heard from the developer and we’re happy to report that a new game is soon to be released, with many of the things we didn’t like fixed, and a more respectable 25 levels. Due out sometime in March. Come back to Today’s Top Tech for more on this later…

Self-confessed tech and gadget geek. Love all kinds of tech, but especially that which helps me work more effectively, and looks / feels good to use.

VIsit Jon Smith's website

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