No, it’s not what you think. The Bar isn’t a drinking game or a travel guide designed to help you find a local watering hole. It’s actually something very different altogether. The Bar is a utilities app designed to help you monitor large file transfers and downloads while you’re away from your computer so you can spend less time staring at the screen and more time maxin and relaxin! Created by Goal Moon, this app lets you comfortably view the current status and time left on any large file or folder transfers, and large Internet downloads directly from your iPhone. When I first learned of the app, I was a little confused because the idea is so revolutionary I had never even considered it. Here’s how it works.
You initiate a download or a large file/folder transfer on your computer. After a few minutes you realize that you are all finished with your other work and cannot go any further till this transfer or download is finished. But the dialogue box on the screen says its going to be an hour or more. You could get something else done, like some house cleaning, yard work, or lunch with a coworker. The Bar is here to help.
Just fire up the app and use it to take a picture of the progress bar on your computer with your iPhone camera. The app overlays a little box around the progress bar. When it does this just adjust the box so it fits perfectly around the progress bar (see above). Then wait a little awhile and take another picture with the app, repeating the process, only this time you move the “Bar size” slider, which is the red line in the shot above, so that it covers the current progress bar length. The result is that it can compare how far the progress bar has advanced from picture one to picture two. It estimates how long the transfer or download has left and you can go off and do something else. It will notify when it is finished. You will have to set the time (see the image below).
If you get a call, don’t worry. It still keeps track of the time in the background. You might come back and notice that the app’s reported time remaining is off what the computer says. You can go back and “recalibrate” it which is essentially repeating the second measurement.
The Bar currently doesn’t run in the background with the new iOS4 background support. However, if you switch to another app and return to The Bar it will update the information.
So after testing I uncovered a couple of problems with this app. First, it doesn’t appear to be very accurate. I tested it with a 2.7 GB folder of pictures. On my initial test The Bar reported the transfer would finish in an hour vs. what my computer which said it would take fifty minutes. Initially I figured a ten minute difference isn’t all that bad, but I quickly changed my mind. After recalibrating a couple of times I noticed that the app started reporting much longer transfer times than my computer. In the end my computer finished the transfer and the app said it still had more than an hour left to go.
The second issue I found was that manipulating the little box that overlays the progress bar indicator is so sensitive on the iPhone 4 that it is hard to make it fit accurately. My box was either a tenth of a centimeter too big or too small for the first five or six tries on each end. I finally was able to get it right, but it took repeated steps.
Finally, is this type of app really necessary for everybody? My thoughts are probably not. Although, I guess if you frequently download and transfer large files (music, video, images, etc.) you’d probably want an app of this nature. If it is something that you would use, perhaps you’ll have a better run with it then I had. Personally I’d need the accuracy to be significantly improved before I could find the app useful.
With all that said, The Bar is likely to be an attractive app for all you big file transferers and downloaders out there. Performance wise the app was solid; it never crashed or froze on me once. Support for the app seems fairly abundant. On the app’s website you can find a lot of support related and how to information. I especially felt the demonstration video (shown below) was a great tool to orient the user to this unique utilities app. Finally, the app itself is very creative. I never would have even thought about a tool like this. But as the Apple ads say, “There’s an app for that.”
Update: August 18th, 2010 – Goal Moon has recently brought out a new exciting release of The Bar.The full list of improvements includes:
- Progress bar reading position auto lock. Hold the tap for a while moments and the application will lock your position to avoid error in reading when you remove your finger. By halting the position you’ll see icons of padlocks on all four corners of the app screen.
- Inclusion of transparency in the frame’s bar, which measures the progress bar.
- Improved recalibration process. A new algorithm ensures greater accuracy in this process.
- The persistence process is adapted to iOS4.
- Inclusion of a method that calls the user to review the app after a few times using it.
- Two new buttons on the info pages: Tell-a-Friend and Review The Bar
Internal code optimizations.
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