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Tapose Is a Good Idea Gone Bad

By John P. Mello Jr. MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Apr 6, 2012 5:00 AM PT

Tapose Is a Good Idea Gone Bad

Tapose, an app from Zanther, is available for US$2.99 at the App Store. Tapose is a great idea for a tablet app that was pushed out the door too soon.

After four months in the Apple review process, the journal software arrived at the App Store recently, but it still doesn't seem ready for prime time.

On a first-generation iPad, it's often unresponsive, buggy and prone to frequent crashes. It's not very intuitive, either.

That's a sad state of affairs, because the app, which turns the iPad into a multi-purpose journal, is a based on a terrific concept.

Off Microsoft Scrap Pile

Tapose's roots burrow back to a project shut down by Microsoft called "Courier." The project aimed to create a double-screen tablet computer designed to create content.

When Courier's development ran at cross purposes with its Windows 8 tablet initiatives, Microsoft scrapped the project. The dual screen concept, though, captured the imagination of two Seattle area developers, Benjamin Monnig and Ricky Drake, who saw the potential of bringing the idea to the iPad in what has become Tapose.

The software is based on a journal metaphor. When you open a journal, it displays two pages--a pseudo emulation of the Courier motif.

The virtual paper of the pages can be customized. For example, you can use grid paper, parchment or lined canary yellow legal-style paper.

You can type text on pages. A wide variety of fonts, in several sizes, are available. Text can be styled--bold, italic, underlined, aligned -- left, right, center -- and formatted into lists.

400 MB Cloud Storage

Several options are available by tapping the page number at that top of each page. They let you undo actions, search your notebook and pull up an "index" of the pages in it.

The index is a popup window that displays thumbnails of your pages. You can rapidly move through the thumbnails by sliding your finger on them. Pages can also be deleted or moved around in the index view.

Another option presents you with choices for sharing your notebook. You can share it on Tapose's cloud (400 MB of free storage; $29.99 a year for more) or as a PDF file for email or storage on Dropbox or Evernote. You can print the journal, too.

At the left edge of the dual pages is a combination tool and slider bar.

The tools let you perform tasks such as drawing and writing with your finger or a stylus, erasing scribblings, highlighting text, creating sticky notes, recording audio notes and capturing areas on your screen by circling them with your finger.

Hub of Tools

The slide bar can be moved across the screen by holding a button at the bottom of the bar and sliding your finger on the display. That allows you to access material behind the journal. That can be another journal or one of the tools from the control hub.

You access the control hub by sliding your finger up or down the slide bar. Tools located there let you view thumbnails of all your journals, surf the Web, view maps, check contacts or call up a calculator. You activate the tools by dragging them to the area behind the journal pages.

Journals can be organized like apps on the iPad. So you can drag one on the other and a folder will be created for them automatically.

Tapose uses its own Web browser, but pages opened in it can be viewed in Safari. The disadvantage of that is that you have to leave the app to do it.

Custom Browser

A disadvantage of using Tapose's browser, though, is it doesn't support "smart" addressing. If you type "New York Times" in Safari's address bar, it will take you to The New York Times' website. Tapose needs something closer to an URL -- "www.newyorktimes" for instance -- to get your there.

The browser doesn't have conventional bookmarking and history functions but they can be simulated.

For example, by tapping an arrow beside the address bar, a URL can be saved to the Tapose clipboard and an icon for it placed on the slider bar. Then the icon can be dragged to a journal page. There it will appear as a thumbnail of the webpage. When you poke the thumbnail, you'll be taken to the page on the Web.

In a similar fashion, you can save locations you've pinned on maps.

Contacts can be dragged from your address book to become a card on a journal page or as someone to share your journal with.

Crashes Galore

When viewing a Web page, you can tap a minimize button at the bottom of the screen. That will reduce the page to a large thumbnail. Then you can create a new page. If you want to return to your first page, you can minimize the page you're viewing and tap the old page. As you repeat the process, you create a visual history of your Web session.

Getting the hang of Tapose can be frustrating. Not only does it respond sluggishly to screen gestures, but it can be annoyingly unintuitive.

For instance, to move from page to page, or screen to screen, in most iPad apps, you just swipe your finger across the screen. With Tapose, you have to tap the corner of a page or swipe a narrow area at the top of the page.

Because it's not as intuitive as it should be, the app's documentation becomes all the more important. Unfortunately, the app's docs aren't up to snuff.

I finally had to watch a 28-minute video on YouTube to find out how to use the program. The fact that the video was 28 minutes long ought to tell you something about the complexity of the app.

The most vexing problem of all with the app, though, was its constant crashing. Almost any action at any moment could send my iPad back to the home screen. That made the software worthless as a productivity tool.

Maybe some day Tapose ($2.99) will be fit for use on the iPad and fulfill its potential there. That day, unfortunately, is not now.

John Mello is a freelance technology writer and former special correspondent for Government Security News.

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