I love things that multitask. I carry a Leatherman multi-tool, and my phone does a heck of a lot more than just make phone calls. So when I heard that reduxsoft offered an app called Army Knife 8-in-1, I obviously had to take a look at it to see if it could find a place in my multipurpose heart. Sadly, Army Knife lives up to old phrase: “Jack of all trades: master of none.”
Army Knife aims to mimic the traditional pocketknife by giving you a set of tools that may become indispensable at the very moment they need them. The app features a flashlight, a heart-rate detector, a tape measure, a vernier caliper, a bubble level, a protractor, a supersonic whistle, an S.O.S. light and a flashlight. (A free version—Army Knife Basic—offers just the level, flashlight and S.O.S. light features.)
Certain features just work. For example, the flashlight provides you with a white screen, the supersonic whistle is great for party tricks and training your dog. (I have a threshold of 18Khz, who knew?) The protractor can be held under a sheet of paper and be used quite easily to measure angles, and the caliper works as long as you can hold whatever you’re measuring on or next to the screen. The heartbeat monitor works flawlessly, asking you to tap the screen for every measurable beat. If I ever find myself playing the part of Tom Hanks in Cast Away, I could leave the S.O.S. light blinking while I took a nap.
But Army Knife’s measuring tape falls short. To use it, you’ve got to hold your finger stationary and move your phone underneath it, along the length of whatever it is you’re trying to measure. When you’ve reached the limits of the screen, you’ve then got to move your finger to the next section, and move the phone again. The actual usefulness and accuracy of this method has got to be something similar to buttering bread with a ball point pen.
I’ve found Army Knife’s bubble level tool to be one of the more robust of the app store, but sadly, it only seems to work whenever I’m alone or don’t need it.
To reduxsoft’s credit, it seems committed to perfecting the app, if the multiple notations of bug fixes are anything to go by. But for now, Army Knife’s useful aspects are offset by its shortcomings.
Army Knife 8-in-1 is compatible with any iPhone or iPod touch running the iPhone 2.1 software update.
[Rob de la Cretaz is a full-time polymath and a proud resident of Pittsburgh.]