blankblank blank




On The Levels I: Bubble Battle



Most of the apps reviewed on this website are geographically-related, but I’ll occasionally do reviews of apps designed to record non-geographic attributes; after all, the website’s byline does say “Recording” in it :). Some of the most common types of measurement apps in the Android Market are the ones designed to measure the orientation of objects, e.g. levels, inclinometers, protractors, etc.. Today, I’ll be looking at two of the most popular bubble level apps, both of which are called “Bubble”. Future reviews will cover lots more of these, hence the “I” in the title.


Application Name: Bubble

Description: Bubble level for measuring phone orientation

Publisher’s website: KTK.BZ

Cost: Free

Version/date reviewed: v. 1.8.2  /  10-24-10

Phone/OS: Droid X / Android 2.2

bubble_qr

Android Market link (mobile app only)
Android Market link (browser)


This is perhaps the most popular bubble level app on the market; it claims over two million downloads, and based on the number of comments I believe it. In appearance, it’s one of the more realistic, “life-like” bubble levels.

bubble_1

Figure 1: Here’s the display with my Droid X laying “flat” on a surface. Unlike most other Android phones, the Droid X can’t lay fully flat since it has a “hump” on the back that holds the camera. Fortunately, like most level apps, Bubble can let you calibrate your unit to compensate for this, as well as compensate for inaccuracies in your unit’s orientation sensor

bubble_2

Figure 2: Here, I’ve stood my phone on end (in portrait orientation), and Bubble automatically switches the level type to a horizontal one; tipping the phone into a landscape orientation (long end on the ground) would create a similar display rotated 90 degrees from the one at left. I also set the background to black, and added a pitch indicator.Tapping on the screen “locks” the angle measurement, tapping again unlocks it.

You also have the app speak the angle, and also set an alarm notifier (buzz, beep or light) to indicate when it’s level.

Other Issues:

Biggest issue I have with this app is that it automatically switches the level type as you tilt the phone. For example, if I have the phone in portrait orientation, and tilt it more than 60 degrees, it automatically switches the level display into landscape orientation. So, I can’t measure inclination angles of more than 60 degrees. The option to “lock” the level mode would be a useful addition. And while the display is realistic, I think I’d actually prefer a non-realistic bubble with more clearly-defined edges. Finally, I wish it would display the first decimal place; the orientation sensor is capable of that kind of accuracy.

Final thoughts:

Good app, but the lack of mode locking and reduced degree display accuracy are definite minuses.


Application Name: Bubble (level)

Description: Bubble level for measuring phone orientation

Publisher’s website: AndroGames

Cost: Free

Version/date reviewed: v. 1.6.0  /  10-17-10

Phone/OS: Droid X / Android 2.2

bubblel_qr

Android Market link (mobile app only)
Android Market link (browser)


This second Bubble app is generically similar to the first, but does have some significant differences, good and bad.

bl_1

Figure 3: Compared with the first Bubble app, this one displays the angle to one decimal degree of accuracy, a definite plus. The bubble doesn’t look as realistic, but I actually find it easier to view, and the crosshairs also give a better feeling for how far off you are from vertica

bl_2

Figure 4: Tilting the phone in portrait or landscape mode can automatically switch from the round bubble level mode used in flat orientations to the linear mode seen at left. But the app’s Preferences section lets you turn on a “locking” option that freezes the mode, keeping it from changing when you tilt the unit more than 60 degrees. So, by tapping on the “Locked” section at top, I can turn the unit more than 60 degrees without having it flip to a different mode; now, I can measure angles of more than 60 degrees.

bl_3

Figure 5: You can calibrate the unit to adjust for an uneven phone; preferences lets you set display options, and also set the “viscosity” of the fluid so that the bubble moves more quickly (low viscosity) or slowly (high viscosity). There’s also a sound alarm option to indicate when you’re level.

Biggest problem with this app is the inability to “freeze” a measurement with a simple screen tap, as you can with the other bubble app. Pressing the “menu” button to bring up the “Calibrate” and “Preferences” options will freeze the measurement, but in two out of the three modes this will partially obscure the angle measurements.

Other Issues:

None; worked fine without crashes.

Final thoughts:

This second Bubble app is mostly superior to the first one, but the lack of a measurement “hold” capability is a huge minus. You can sort of live with using the “menu” button as a “hold” button, but that’s an imperfect fix. Hopefully, this drawback will be fixed in a future version.


Looking for something else? Enter some keywords below, then click "Search".    




0 Responses to “On The Levels I: Bubble Battle”


  1. No Comments