DiyDict iPhone app muddles create-your-own book concept with poor execution

Mar 3, 2010
Tech

Apple recently included the create-your-own book iPhone app DiyDict ($1.99) in its “New & Noteworthy” section of the iTunes App Store, but I’m really not sure why. It may be because the iPhone app’s concept—you design a guidebook about whatever you want (the developer suggests a dictionary or a cook book, for example) and create it from […]

Apple recently included the create-your-own book iPhone app DiyDict ($1.99) in its “New & Noteworthy” section of the iTunes App Store, but I’m really not sure why.

It may be because the iPhone app’s concept—you design a guidebook about whatever you want (the developer suggests a dictionary or a cook book, for example) and create it from the ground up. I haven’t seen a similar idea in the iTunes App Store, but ultimately, DiyDict’s open customization is also its Achilles’ heel.

For a casual iPhone and computer user (I like to use the Mom-test here, as in, could my mother figure out this iPhone app?) you aren’t going to be happy having spent $2 on DiyDict. Within the iPhone app itself you can, of course, actually set up a handbook, add images from your camera roll as content or background and change things such as font, font color and size, as well as the notebook’s line colors and heights.

The first issue I have with DiyDict is that it took me a few reads through the instructions to even make sense of what to do initially to create my book. Once I got a test book to show up in the correct place, I started playing with the style options. Changing things is pretty straightforward, but there’s no indication that anything you’ve changed or added in the control panel (including photos) has appeared in your book unless you go back and look at the page directly. I had no trouble typing in the content itself, but with no landscape mode, I could see it becoming tiresome.

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Aside from the default background image, there are no other choices to choose from. The instruction panel indicates the correct sizes necessary to make your own image, but there’s also no way to create anything new in the iPhone app itself. Uploading an existing image or downloading one from the Internet isn’t ideal, because the back and edit buttons, while still in existence, are hidden, meant to be drawn in be the user.

Although the developer has built in Wi-Fi air share with the iPhone app that makes uploading files (and sharing a completed book) simple, you still have to do work outside of the app for the DiyDict to meet its full potential.

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