App Review: VoogleXL 10
Following in the footsteps of their last application under the Voogle banner, webOS World, the creators of Villo.net, have recently pushed out a new app for TouchPad owners, appropriately called VoogleXL. This latest app to grace our TouchPad app catalog is a nice, clean-looking alternative to the GVoice app by Eric Blade, even while it does have some small glitches that could be worked out. At $1.99, it's not only an affordable solution for bringing Google Voice to your TouchPad, but is considered a "Must Have App" time and time again in the reviews by other VoogleXL users.
But how did it hold up in our own tests? Hit the break below to see some screenshots of the app in action and find out if it's a good fit for you.
It's not difficult to build a nice looking app in webOS, but VoogleXL has definitely been built to feel as natural to use as possible within the webOS ecosystem. It uses the smooth webOS panels that were released with version 3.0 to separate the layers of content, and from that one layout you will never have to switch to another view to see all of the content. On the far left you have your folders panel, giving you instant access at all times to all of your folders and labels within Google Voice. To the right of that in the middle panel is the list view of all conversations and messages within the selected folder (Text messages will show in the "Texts" folder, Voice messages show in the "Voicemail" folder and so on). Finally, in the panel to the far right you have the content view, showing the entire threaded SMS conversation or message from the item that you selected from the middle panel.
With these three simple panels that give you access to all content in your Google Voice account, the app is able to do what other Voice apps have a problem with - provide a great experience without any extra clutter or confusion. Read and reply to text messages or listen to your voicemails right from within the app - it really doesn't get much easier. Another nice feature of the app, which should be included with any of these kinds of communication-based services, is the way it ties into webOS notifications. With these notifications, you can tie your non-Pre3 webOS device to your TouchPad and sync text messages and voicemails between the two (without needing that pesky non-existant OTA update). You can also change the ringtone and background-sync settings for the app from the preferences screen, both of which are features that are difficult to complain about.
No app is perfect, and sadly, even as simple and useful as VoogleXL is, this one is not exempt from that rule either. Whether I am waiting for the content to refresh or for my voicemails to load, it seems that I was waiting more than actually managing my account. When switching between folders, even if I had already looked through them, the app reloads the content within them (causing me to wait). When selecting an item to look through, whether it was a voicemail or SMS conversation, I had to wait unnecessarily long for that item to load; and waiting, as you may know, is not a fun thing to be doing when there is an urgent message that needs to be listened to.
Strangely enough, with all of the refreshing that the app does on its own while you use it, the lowest setting for automatically checking for new items is only 15 minutes. If you are the type who receives messages often and doesn't want to keep refreshing manually, that might be a pretty annoying problem to encounter (a suggested improvement would be to add 1, 5 and 10 minute options as well).
That said, I can't help but appreciate that the app does what I need it to very well and very simply. I like that it doesn't have a complicated interface and that it is easy to use. It just looks better than the alternatives out there, and that means the experience, albeit slow, is more enjoyable. With it sitting at a whole $0.50 cheaper than GVoice, VoogleXL accomplishes the exact same thing in a cleaner interface and a developer that promises more updates to follow.
If you're a fan of Voogle 3.0 on your webOS smartphone, or are just looking for an easy-to-use Google Voice app for your TouchPad, take a look at VoogleXL before making the final purchase decision. It's only $1.99 in the TouchPad App Catalog, and with promises of updates coming in the future, it shouldn't be too difficult to part with the two bucks needed to get a decent Google Voice app right now.