The iPhone app for Google’s intriguing new Schemer service hit the iOS App Store today, continuing Google’s fine tradition of apps that are feature-rich and aesthetically just okay (for the exception that proves the rule, see the new Google+ app).
What’s that you say? You’ve never heard of Schemer? Well, that’s okay. Google hasn’t actually made too big a deal out of the service, though perhaps they should. Schemer was first introduced back in December. At the time it was in an invite-only closed beta, so getting in to try the service out was not easy. Google finally opened Schemer to the public late last month and launched an update to the Android app, promising that an iPhone app would be coming along shortly.
In case you’re not familiar with it, Schemer is meant to help you find cool things to do out in the real world. Basically, it’s Google’s way of helping inspire people to actually get out from in front of their computers and do stuff. The things that you do are called “Schemes,” and they can be pretty much anything at all: reading a book, watching a movie, hiking a trail, seeing a landmark, cooking a meal, and more. It can be simple stuff like “read Steve Jobs’s biography,” or “watch all the Lord of the Rings movies in one sitting.” It can also be more complicated stuff like “learn HTML,” or “write a novel.” It also has social aspects, which is to say that it integrates with your Google+ account and allows you to share your Schemes to other social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Basically if you take social networking, check-in services like Foursquare or GetGlue, and a giant to-do list for your life and shake them all up together, you’ve pretty much got Schemer.
So, now that you know what Schemer is, it’s time to talk about the iPhone app. You already got the short version up above: the app has is pretty well kitted out in the feature department, but not all that pleasant to look at. When you open up Schemer on your iPhone, you’re first treated to your basic sign-in screen. Schemer doesn’t have a separate login, so you just sign in with your Google account:
Once logged in, you’re taken to your profile. Here you can see how many times you’ve inspired people (i.e., how many people have done or said they wanted to do a Scheme you created). You can also access the Schemes you want to complete, those you have completed, and more. Scroll down a bit and you see your top Schemes. (Note: Any conclusions you can draw about my personality based on my top Scheme are… probably accurate.)
The Schemes page is designed to help you find stuff to do. As you can see, the top two selections are designed to help you find stuff in your immediate area, and stuff you can do without leaving your house. Tapping either of these will prompt you to select some favorite categories, so Schemer can streamline your options a bit. Below that, you can pick Schemes in a pretty wide variety of categories ranging from entertainment to hobbies to fashion to fitness.
Of course, you can also create Schemes. Tapping the pencil-and-paper button at the top of the Schemes page brings you to a screen where you can type in whatever kind of Scheme you want. Here, though, we come to the one place where Schemer is lacking a feature that might be nice to have: there’s no way to put your new Scheme in any particular category. You can choose whether to make it public or not (hence the lock icon in the top right corner of the screen), but you can’t decide which category it should go in.
You can also choose from the seemingly endless variety of Schemes that have been created by other Schemers, or by the Schemer team itself:
Once you’ve chosen a Scheme, you can see more details about it, as well as what other Schemers are saying. You can also choose whether you want to do it or have already done it.
You can also share Schemes you find with your friends via email, or on social networks like Google+, Facebook, and Twitter. You can also add to the conversation about the Scheme, or you can delete it (if it’s a Scheme that you created).
All in all, Schemer is a pretty awesome service. The app is available for free from the iOS App Store, and the Android version is available on Google Play. Give it a try, and let us know what you think in the comments.