iPads are great devices for gaming, communicating with others a devouring multimedia content. Despite its technical limitations, there are tasks that are more enjoyable on a touch screen while sitting on the sofa than being stuck to your desk computer. In this blog I have covered many apps that help you to be more productive or that save you time, apps that are there for a purpose. But what I love about the latest from Suburban Industries is the spirit of crossing fun and productivity in the same app.
Superstash [iTunes Link] is an iPad web browser that allows you to capture screenshots and organise ideas while you navigate the interwebs. If you have used Skitch or LittleSnapper for the Mac, you know that taking those small screenshots and saving them for later can be very useful. You might have spotted a great web design, a quirky solution for that very same problem your blog has, some cool illustration or a product you liked. If you are on your iPad, the solution can only be taking a "manual" screenshot pressing the physical buttons of the device and then sending the file from your Photo Library to your email or something like Evernote or Posterous.
Superstash addresses this creative workflow with tools on the same screen without the need to switch apps. You can choose to crop a portion of a website that you are interested in or make annotations doodling and typing text adjusting both colour and fonts. Mobile Safari, the default iPad browser,is not even capable of taking a screenshot of the whole website. So now comes the productive side: you can curate your own screenshot gallery within the app organising it in folders and assigning metadata such as a title, star rating and tags.
Imagine you need inspiration to decorate your home office or your room. Going through different blogs and websites can be a real time waster if you don't manage to remember anything good you have bumped across. On my iPad, I would send emails with links of a website or an specific blog post. Now I can launch Superstash, start browsing with the peace of mind of knowing that I will be able to save my inspiration ideas easily anytime. If I'm working on a specific project, I can keep everything in the same folder while assigning tags so everything can be found fast.
Superstash comes with a built-in inspiration browser, a website with links to some of the best creative content on the web, which acts as a starting point to your browsing. This page is always accessible from the lighting bolt icon on the navigation bar AND the bookmarks icon. It seems like a strange decision, but after some uses you'll find yourself using it a lot because it is the fastest way to get to Google (there is no search box on the top bar.)
While the app is open to user customisation, this wasn't so intuitive with the editing tools. Once you tap on the camera icon, you are presented with different options: save, email, pen, colour, text, eraser and clear. It is all very straight forward, but you need to realise that to configure these, you need to tap the button and hold a couple of seconds to make the changes. For some reason, the font types available are more on the Windows side (relax, the default is Helvetica) instead of the system fonts you see on iBooks.
Overall it is a very polished app with a clear goal of making web browsing a bit more productive and a bit more fun. The only thing that bothers me are some of the transitions used. When you bring up the editing tools, the page slides down a la multitasking and all the buttons and URL box disappear from menubar. A "back" button will be the only hint to revert to the standard view, which I found counter intuitive. This doesn't happen on the gallery sub-menu, so I don't see the reason not to have it on the browsing window! The animation is not pixel perfect, so hopefully an update will fix this.
In my wish list I hope the developer decides to add some shapes in a future release such as arrows, circles and rectangles. I have been using Skitch since 2007 and I see myself highlighting small detail with arrows and rectangles all the time. Doodling... Not so much.
Superstash has a very useful blog with hints and tips to discover new uses for the app. There is no native support for Dropbox yet, but you can set up emails to Evernote and the likes. If you often take clips from the web for future inspiration or are a designer who wants to keep ideas tidy, I suggest you give it a go. The app has been well designed and it is very pleasant to use, crucial when you you market a an app for people with eye to detail. I hope further updates will add some extra functionality, but it is a solid start thanks to its great approach to web browsing: something between spending hours online without realising are keeping track of all the interesting things you find.
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