iPod App for the Apartment Hunt?
May 13, 2010 5:25 AM   Subscribe

Looking for an iPod Touch database app to collect observations when we visit potential rental apartments.

So my boyfriend and I have a deal that if I organize our housing search for him, he'll fly to the city we're moving to and do all the legwork of checking out potential places. He'll be looking at many places in just a few days, and I've been imagining a database app he can use on his iPod Touch (not iPhone) that will allow him to collect data quickly and easily. I don't need an app to troll Craigslist or anything like that; just to collect data onsite.

I've been looking at HanDBase, Bento, TapForms, ListMaster, and StoreIt, but it's so hard to tell from those screenshots and descriptions what has the features I want. Here are the features I'd like:

• Cheap! I don't really see myself using a database app that often beyond this search, and I don't need sophisticated reports or analyses.

• Easy-to-navigate forms, including pop-out menus that allow my bf to select things like descriptors of neighborhoods, number of bedrooms, etc.

• Because I've promised to take care of the details, it would be great if I could build the form and enter some data (like the address) on my iPod or desktop and somehow get it to his iPod.

• Speaking of which, it would be cool if the app had a desktop client that I didn't have to pay for.

• Location-aware? That'd be awesome but not necessary.

• Obviously, we need some way to get results from his iPod to my desktop.

Do you know of anything? Maybe all DB apps can do this, but, never having used one, I could use some guidance. Thanks!
posted by miriam to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I'd go for Bento (aka FileMaker Junior), because it's quite flexible and slick, so you'll probably end up finding other uses for it later, as well.
posted by rokusan at 6:45 AM on May 13, 2010

This sounds like a job for Evernote. It's available on a number of different platforms and it's free! In advance of his trip, you could prepopulate a number of "notes" with the address of each place he'll visit and any number of additional descriptors (clean bath? yes/no) that he can fill in as he goes. He can, of course, make free-form notes. As a bonus, you can add photos and audio clips to each note.

It's a really flexible program and you'll likely find use for it once you're in your new place to keep track of other I-just-moved-and-need-to-make-a-list lists.
posted by heathergirl at 7:22 AM on May 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

The iApp version of Evernote gets real slow and clunky the bigger your database is, especially if you're syncing with the desktop version and haven't synced in a while. But that's just from my experience with lots and lots of images. That said, it is perfect for what you need, and a fresh installation shouldn't be problematic.
posted by Robot Johnny at 7:29 AM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think this is the sort of thing Bento would be good for. Evernote is cool, but it is more of a giant memory dump.
posted by chunking express at 8:13 AM on May 13, 2010

When I was shopping for houses I found the "Better Home and Gardens Real Estate Home Selection Assistant" to be very helpful. It does some of the things you want as well as organizing photo albums of each property really well and is location aware and has built in information about neighborhoods. Its probably not as flexible as Bento or Evernote but its definitely more "plug and play."
posted by Bango Skank at 8:30 AM on May 13, 2010

When I was looking at houses in Canada for when my wife moved here from California, the easiest way for me to do it was considerable numbers of pictures and video (so I could talk over it with extra non obvious detail). I then typed that up and emailed it with pictures to the missus.

That way I got through the viewing as quickly as possible with the minimum of disruption to the process. In addition, my perception of things was different to my wife's, so pictures really helped. I just took a picture of the listing and the house number and all the shots could be ordered into folders by time taken when I got home. This worked really well.

Anything involving a protracted typing on something as clunky (relatively - I own an iphone) as an iPod Touch would have enormously extended the process, I think. You may have a lot of houses to go through, so there may be a lot of typing to get through to accurately describe each property. Making voice notes with video and pictures was really all I found I needed. I think there is a possibility you are over complicating this, and it is possible that no iPhone/iPod touch app would be good for this.
posted by Brockles at 9:54 AM on May 13, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks, all! I actually have been using Evernote to organize my Craigslist ads, but I didn't realize it had the capability to do forms. I'll give that a shot! And thanks, Bango Skank, for the app recommendation. That does sound like what I'm looking for. Brockles, I hear you for sure, but my boyfriend a) enjoys technology and b) doesn't always notice the same things I notice, housing-wise, so I though this might be a way for us to stay on the same page.
posted by miriam at 12:03 PM on May 13, 2010

This sounds like a job for a ballpoint pen and a spiral notebook.
posted by neuron at 1:40 PM on May 13, 2010

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