Review: Brusher19th Nov, 2013
A better Toothbrush Timer?
I was recently contacted by an iOS developer who upon reading my review of Toothbrush Timer, was inspired to create a similar, and hopefully better, app of his own. Brusher, as he titled it, is certainly a catchier name. And while it is significantly more attractive, it has plenty of shortcomings of its own.
When the app is first launched, all you’re presented with is a very barren UI and an almost-scary-looking model of a mouth. I experienced a moment of, “wait, what?”. Unsure of what to do, I did the only thing I thought was reasonable. I tapped on the screen. A pleasant “bleep-bloop” type sound effect played and a timer started counting.
While showing you how to brush your teeth, Brusher does make a marked improvement over Toothbrush Timer. By showing a 3D representation of the mouth, it’s easier to highlight where you should be brushing, but at the expense of not being as “cute” as a simple row of cartoonish teeth. This view is definitely more useful, so I’m still calling it an improvement. Perhaps this view with a slightly less realistic model would feel less weird.
In addition to timing your brush session, Brusher also tracks when your toothbrush should be replaced and when your last dentist’s visit was. As a bonus, Brusher can also add these dates as events to your calendar. I’m significantly more likely to see the replacement date ahead of time so I know to buy a toothbrush in advance. Brusher also sets up reminders about both of these.
The total brush time is adjusted explicity in terms of how many seconds each section of your mouth is brushed from 6–12 seconds. The default is 8 seconds, for a total brush time of 2 minutes, 8 seconds. This is much more precise than the timing allowed by Toothbrush Timer (which used ismple 10 second increments), which is a nice touch, but it results in some odd total times that may be of mild annoyance to users with obsessive compulsive tendencies. There is also a separate timer for using mouthwash, which is an unchangeable 30 seconds. Being able to adjust this from 30 - 60 seconds would be a nice addition.
The interaction / navigation within the app is a little odd, though. To view how many days remain until you should replace your toothbrush, you may simply swipe from the timer you’re currently on (toothbrush or mouthwash), to view it. To changes timers, however, you must tap a small icon in the upper left corner. It would make more sense if the mouthwash timer was just another “slide” in the set.
The first-use experience would be much smoother if underneath the timer there were a simple start / stop button. Figuring out that I need only to tap isn’t very hard, but when the application first loads I’m not given any information to learn from so it’s far from ideal.
While Brusher is a nice improvement over Toothbrush Timer, it’s still far from great. The overall utility of these apps is still questionable in my mind, but if you’re concerned with being really precise in your brushing there may be some value. Brusher, however, is priced at $1.99. The better visuals, more appealing sound effects and additional features are probably worth paying for. But in a world with extremely useful free apps, getting the average user to pay more than $0.99 for an app can be tough, and you certainly don’t want to leave them feeling cheated.
It’s not terrible, but Brusher has a ways to go before it can be called good, particularly if you’re charging me for the experience.
Brusher: 3/5 piles of poo.
Note: For this review Brusher was purchased using a redeem code provided to me by the developer. I did not spend the $1.99 on the app, but did keep in mind the cost while trying the app.