Now that we're officially in the summer season, even appfreaks come out of our geeky caves and spend most of our time outdoors. Those lucky enough to have a garden have to make the most out of it with parties, barbecues and of course, some gardening. Having the iPhone with me at all times, it makes for the perfect support you need for all those doubts and problems we bump into when we grow our own food and flowers.
UPDATED 29/08/2010 - Applied objects is dropping the price of Gardening Toolkit with a special sale and celebrate the new 2.01. It now boasts over 200 new plant varieties, includes the option to select multiple gardens and a gorgeous glossary for those who are not experts yet, or English is not our first language. Don't let the one-star review on the UK AppStore put you off. Read the review and make your educated guess.
After some digging in the AppStore, I found Gardening Toolkit [iTunes Link] and decided to give it a go. This is the only app released so far by Applied Objects, but make no mistake, it has a level of polish that most developers haven't managed to match. Presented with a photo-realistic wooden interface (if you've read other AppFreak reviews you know this is a winner choice) Gardening Toolkit helps the novice gardener to keep tidy and organised all the crops. It allows you to select what have you planted in your garden to monitor closely all the needs and harvesting timing of the produce.
If you have ever attempted to grow anything you'll instantly see the appeal above the eye-candy: Most of the times its frustrating to see overgrowing plants that don't get to flower or those seeds that never make it. I have actually forgotten many times what did I plant on a certain spot that never grows…
Gardening Toolkit has a built-in library with a lot of flowers and vegetables species will all the handy information that usually comes on the back the seed bags. It includes the planting and blooming periods, amount of watering required, recommended weather, lifecycle,… I particularly like the fact that it comes with the Latin name, because we all know that veg and flowers receive different names even in the same language and can be tricky. During the app testing I have been adding notes to every crop as well. Pictures are good and help to make the app visually stunning. The developer took care to get the correct license and attribution from the photographer too.
Make no mistake, it has a level of polish that most developers haven't managed to match. On top of that, it has amassive veg and flower library.
You can select the plans you already have in your garden and the app will tell you when they're ready to be harvested, believe it or not, a Farmville for people who actually want to get their dirty! You can also set ToDo lists for different tasks with their personalised icon, but I haven't found it really useful. It worked as reminders, but there's no way to mark as done the tasks effectively. Gardening Toolkit also includes an "advice" section where you get recommendations and suggestions about what is best to plant at every month. I found that a filtering method with "Flowers", "Herbs", Shrubs", "Veges" and "Other" should have also been implemented on the search option, since you only get the Common name and Latin name. Hands-on video after the jump!
My family is originally from the countryside and I can guarantee that I know some gardening freaks as well, but with the iPhone on my pocket, now it's easier than ever to have all the help you need a couple of taps away. The app is on its 3rd update and hopefully we will see more improvements coming. I hope a version for the iOS4 comes out promptly and that fancy things like push notifications can be introduced in the future. If you do any gardening or just have some pots at hope to get started, Gardening Toolkit is a great app to have.
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