Have you ever wondered why most of Apple’s free applications are rather simple? That leaves the door open for app developers, whether for the Mac or iOS devices, to create improvements, and up the ante with better features, and that adds to the ecosystem. Apple’s main applications have improved through the years, yes, but most remain much as they were. Simple to use, simple to learn. Safari, Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Reminders, Notes, iPhoto.
Here’s the tale of an application for iPad and iPhone which does something remarkable in its plainness. We’ve been looking around for a grocery store shopping list app that is quick and easy to use, inexpensive, and synchronizes data between devices (not shared by iCloud or Dropbox; we maintain separate accounts). What I settled on was a very simple shopping list application called Kitchen Sync. It comes with a long list of household and grocery store items. Add items by touching the + Plus sign. Even add it to a category. Scroll down, find an item, touch it, and the item is added to the list, then the list is synchronized to devices connected to the same account.
The benefit here is obvious. Multiple people (husband and wife, for example) can add items to the shopping list, then delete them once they’re purchased; one by one, or tap Clear to remove all the items. The lists are then synchronized again. The learning curve is next to nothing. You already know how to use it.
Touch an item and it’s instantly added to the shopping list. Swipe to remove it from the list. Press + Plus to add an item to a list or category. Press the iOS Sharing Box to email or text the list. The synchronization between Kitchen Sync on multiple devices is handled in the background, no iCloud or Dropbox required (will sync.
The beauty and power of Kitchen Sync is in the simplicity and ease of use. Most grocery shopping list or list making apps have far more features, but usability is more important. When comparing applications, the battle should not be between users and features, but the peace between user and usability.
Kitchen Sync is a delight to use because it just works for the intended purpose. Can you repurpose Notes or Reminders? Yes, but syncing requires sharing an iCloud account. Most of the other grocery shopping lists are cumbersome to setup and use. Kitchen Sync is instantly usable, quickly syncs lists between devices, and seems to get out of the way when being used. It’s also free, but only 99-cents if you want it to sync lists between devices.