I once left for spring break without any socks, which may sound like the precursor to a wild story, except I was headed to Rochester, New York, to ride out a blizzard at my friend’s father’s apartment. We got to town, hit up the mall, and I bought a six-pack of cheap socks. If I had written a packing list or had an app to help me prep my trip, such as Packing Pro (for iPhone) ($2.99), chances are I would have forgotten the socks regardless. Life rolls like that sometimes. You know you ought to pack socks and you simply don’t, even if it’s written down.
To pay $3 for an app that reminds me to pack socks—or medication, sunscreen, a light jacket, a knitted cap, and my swimsuit—seems frivolous even to someone as into organization as I am.
For some, however, it might be the very specificity of the reminders in this indie app that make it worth the modest cost.
Checklist Planning and Packing
Packing Pro helps you pack, and that’s just about all it’s designed to do. You work from a sample list of items to pack or create your own and tick off items as they go into your luggage.
It has a handful of other reminders, too, like booking reservations and watering the plants before you leave home, which you can save into checklists to guide your harried soul while you’re running around your apartment like a chicken with its head cut off worried that you’ll miss your flight if you dally a moment longer.
The default palette puts before you a lackluster brown color scheme and insipid fonts (using excessive italics) that suggest perhaps what’s inside is equally uninspiring—however, the lack of visual panache really does not speak to the attention to detail that went into creating sample packing lists. They are comprehensive and thorough, and at any time you can create a new item, which you can classify to any one of dozens of pre-programmed categories.
Moreover, you can change the color scheme and fonts, but, ultimately, no one should waste her time customizing the look of a single-utility app that’s overpriced to begin with. Theme customization options turn out to be just one fatty area. The app needs a lot of tightening.
From the homescreen, I created several packing lists, a few from sample lists and a few from scratch, but based on real travel experiences as I tried to think through the kinds of things I would genuinely need. Packing Pro’s sample lists range from “male” and “female” to “camping” and “business.” The sample female list did have more than I imagined it might, but all the other sample lists are male-oriented. Where are the bras and sports bras? The business sample list includes three ties, a suit jacket, and a handkerchief, but not pantyhose, jewelry, or tampons.
Pack It Up, Pack It In…
As mentioned, I could always add the items that I wanted to include by either writing them in as special entries or finding them on other lists to add–except that customizing a packing list proved to be much more time-consuming than packing on the fly, forgetting my socks, and picking up a few pairs when en route to my destination. Again, there’s fat to trim. The app requires heavy-handed tightening and simplification to be more useful.
If Packing Pro were a 99-cent iPhone app, I would have scored it slightly higher than the three-star grade it got. It’s not a terrible app, but it costs too much for such a single-purpose tool.
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Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc