More often than my brothers would like to admit, I like to poll people about some discussion we’re having at the moment. These are usually strangers, and it’s usually a handful that I don’t think will hit or mace me. I’m happy to announce that I no longer need to do that, thanks to an app by Input Factory Inc. called Polar, which lets you poll complete strangers without the awkward initial conversation. Let’s see how it stacks up.
Polar is an app that allows you to quickly and easily create photo polls, which you can then share with friends.
In order to get started, you’ll have to create an account, which is a quick and painless process. The form is short and while they do send you a verification email, you don’t need to verify in order to start using the app (I imagine you’ll have to verify eventually, though). Polar let’s you do three key actions: vote, comment and create.
Voting & Commenting
The name of the game with Polar is simplicity. You’re presented with a scrollable screen of polls, all with two answers. Just press the side you agree with; it’s that simple. Once you vote, you can see the results. As a web developer/designer, I really like the fact that Input Factory Inc. (of which the venerable Luke Wroblewski is a part) takes into account a lot of mobile design principles that have been put forth in the last few years. While using Polar you can tell that the developers are also mobile app users and that they know how people use mobile apps. You can use the app comfortably with one hand for example, and the polls are dominated by photos, so they don’t require a lot of reading, if any at all.
There are also a couple of other features related to the polls, if you want to do more exploring. First, as I mentioned, is commenting.
Pressing the Comment button will bring you to an input screen where you’ll see the name of the poll as well as other comments. Press Add to add your own. The next feature is the Results button, which you’ll only see after you’ve voted.
As you can see, this screen shows you who voted and which side they’re on. Finally, pressing “…” will bring up a context menu (shown above on the right) where you can flag the poll, share it, or follow the user that created the poll.
If you haven’t noticed already, there are four fixed icons at the bottom of the app. So far we’ve only really explored one: Home. The next two icons have to do with your own polls. Let’s start with Create.
This is a truly beautiful screen that highlights how much thought went into this app. What you essentially see is a blank poll that you get to fill out. Pressing on any of the sections will allow you to edit the default text; for example, “Yes,” “Add a Question …”and “No” can all be edited by pressing on them. One thing I’d like to point out is that by default in iOS, you can’t get rid of the keyboard without pressing Done. Knowing this might be confusing to users, the developers added a keyboard icon that replaces your profile photo when the keyboard is up. This is a small (possibly unnoticed by most users) UI addition that makes the app a lot better.
Then you have the option of adding photos, which you can do with your camera or by search.
You can add one image which will extend across the whole poll, or two images, which you can then scale and drag to make them fit. Then press Create Poll and you’re done. Once the poll is created, Polar gives you some very nice sharing options, including Facebook, Twitter, Email and even SMS.
The best part is that users do not need the app or even an iPhone to vote. Sharing generates a web accessible page where any user (signed up or not) can vote. This is another way the developers show that they really understand general User Experience (UX). They know that people won’t always be on their phone, especially if it’s through Facebook or Twitter, and that the majority of mobile users are using a device other than an iPhone. They’ve made these polls truly accessible.
Once your poll is created and launched, you’ll be able to access it easily from the second fixed icon, the Results icon. Press that to view all the polls you’ve created or voted on.
This screen will operate just as we saw earlier. You have the ability to see how many votes each side got, and who voted for which site.
The final fixed button is your profile.
You can add some basic information like your name, short description, link and location. You will also see your stats — how many polls you’ve created, voted on and commented on. Again, these screens are incredibly beautiful and very well designed.
Polar is a simple but fantastic app that showcases how great mobile apps can be. It’s focused, beautiful and well thought out, making it incredibly easy and enjoyable to use. There are some core features, as well as some nice little extras built in. For someone like me, who’s into polling/stats/opinions, it’s a great way to kill time too. The best part is that it’s not just an iPhone app, it’s a truly mobile app. While you use the iPhone to create, anyone with access to the web can vote on the polls, which makes this a super useful all for gathering a consensus or opinion (though technically, I guess it would not be a scientific study). And all of this from a free app. It’s definitely worth the look. You won’t be disappointed.