Measure in Style With Ruler 2

The thing I’ve noticed about having iOS devices is that I’m always looking for ways to consolidate my life; when there’s an app that does the same thing as one of my tools, I’m eager to try it and see if it can simplify my life. That’s why Andrew (of Classics fame) and Alexa Kaz created Ruler.

To learn how fun it is to use Ruler to measure things from your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad, keep reading after the fold.

Overview

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, Ruler is exactly what it sounds like: a ruler for your iOS devices, but with a few tricks up its sleeve.

Pricing

Ruler normally cost $1.99, but is currently on sale for $0.99; for a well-designed single-use utility, we think that $0.99 is a proper price, and expect that most users will be happy to fork over the dollar for the fun and useful experience it provides.

For current price information, check the App Store or the app’s web site.

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The main user interface of Ruler.

Using Ruler

When I first heard of this app, I wondered what the point of a full application for measuring things would be: what difference could there be between it, and a scale picture of a measuring tape? The secret is touch; with Ruler’s unique touch user interface, you can actually get more accurate measurements than you would with a typical physical ruler.

The entire metaphor behind Ruler is that you drag a comfortably sized pointer to the end of the object you are measuring; the app takes care of the rest.

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Drag the pointer to the right until it is lined up with the end of the object you are trying to measure.

Step 1. Getting Started

We’re all familiar with how to measure things using a physical ruler, but when confronted with a different method, we’re baffled. That’s why it’s so great that when you first launch Ruler, you are shown a helpful tutorial on using it. If you decide to buy the app, definitely pay attention during this tutorial, as it will help you understand better how to use it.

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When you first launch Ruler, it will show you a quick, animated tutorial on how to use it.

Step 2. Measuring Something Short

The easiest thing that you can do with Ruler is to measure an object that is shorter than your device’s screen. When I was first playing with Ruler, I chose to measure the width of my credit card. First, make sure that the big blue pointer is as far to the left as possible, at zero; then line up the object to be measured such that its left edge is flush with the left edge of your device’s display, matching the tip of the blue pointer.

Then, all you have to do is drag the blue pointer to the right until it is pointing at the right end of the object to be measured. You’ll notice that as you drag it, the number in its center changes: for instance, after measuring my credit card, it said “2 1/32 in.” It’s that simple!

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Once the blue pointer matches the right edge of the object to be measured, you're done!

Step 3. Measuring Something Long

I mentioned that Ruler has a few tricks up its sleeve: this is one of them. I was at first at a loss to understand how it would be possible to measure an object that is larger than my iPhone’s screen, but believe it or not, Ruler makes it a snap.

For this example, I measured the length of a sheet of paper. First, make it so that the left edge of your object lines up with the blue pointer at zero. Then, drag the blue pointer to the end of the screen, and after doing so, swipe the brown ruler at the bottom to the left. You’ll notice that the ruler now starts close to 3″. Finally, physically move your device to the right once by its screen’s length: this is probably the hardest part of the whole exercise, and is best accomplished by placing a finger adjacent to the end of the screen, and then moving the screen so that its beginning is adjacent to the finger. Now, all you have to do is repeat this maneuver a few times until you’ve reached the end of your measurement.

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With Ruler, you can even measure something that's longer than the screen of your device!

Step 4. Saving Your Measurements

Saving a measurement is really easy. All you have to do is tap the little folder icon in the bottom right-hand corner, and press the plus button; type in the name of your object, and hit Return. (I would prefer that instead of Return, the keyboard were configured to have a Done button.)

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Ruler provides helpful instructions along the way.

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Now that your measurement has been saved, you can retrieve it at any time.

Step 5. Inches or Centimeters?

With Ruler, you can choose to measure things either in inches or centimeters. To make the change, all you have to do is slide the little switch in the middle of the pointer, and the ruler will redraw itself.

A neat nuance to this feature is that if you are looking in your list of saved measurements, toggling the units switch will convert all of your records immediately.

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Just flick the units switch to convert between inches and centimeters!

Bonus: Ruler On Your iPad

Ruler is a universal application; this means that it works at full resolution on all of your iOS devices: iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. We are very pleased with the iPad support, seeing as this makes it much easier to measure things that are a little bit larger without having to displace the screen.

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When you buy Ruler, you can install it on all your iOS devices, including iPad.

Final Thoughts

The most noticeable part of this app in my opinion is its visual design; the crisp, realistic graphics that make up the ruler, the pointer, and the gears are simply fantastic. We can tell that a lot of work went into making Ruler beautiful, and we would expect nothing less from one of the co-creators of Classics. Equally pleasing are the subtle sound-effects, such as when you are dragging the pointer, or opening the save measurements drawer. Overall, the attention to detail is fantastic.

Another thing that contributes to the positive user experience was the tight integration of the app’s built-in tutorial; every time we got to a new part of the app, there was helpful text and/or arrows that helped us along, while staying out of our way.

It wasn’t all positive, though: a problem that we kept running into was that of inaccurate measurement, which is not the app’s fault per se. The problem is that even with practice, it took many times to measure the long edge of a sheet of printer paper at 11″; most of the time, the measurement came out to be closer to 10.5″. Of course, this is because I wasn’t being completely accurate when I offset the device by a screen’s length. But the problem remains that it took a very long time to get an accurate measurement of an object longer than the iPhone’s screen. I cannot think of a way to improve this feature in the application, since the problem seems to be inherent in any attempt to measure something longer than the measuring device.

The final issue that we noticed was that Ruler would occasionally crash. Ruler is still pretty new, and I’m confident that this will get ironed out soon.

Despite the minor frustration in measuring longer objects, Ruler is simply a charming utility that we’re happy to rate at 8/10; if the intermittent crashing issue were fixed, I’d readily give it a 9/10. I wholeheartedly recommend that you go ahead and give Ruler a try, and remember that it runs beautifully on iPad too! Let us know what you think in the comments below.


Summary

Ruler 2 is a beautiful and incredibly useful take on the ruler app. Despite a few minor issues, this app is well worth the price and is far beyond most of the other apps in its category in terms of functionality and user experience.

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