Things I don't like about iBrewMaster
I have seen iBrewMaster described as the BeerSmith of iPhone apps. This is not true.
IMHO iBrewMaster is not worth the $10 price tag. I recommend avoiding it.
I bought iBrewmaster with great anticipation after reading so many positive reviews on itunes and positive reviews here. I admit I may not have searched hard enough here before buying it.
I am writing this thread to offer my impressions of the tool now that I spent $10 on and can't get a refund for.
I find iBrewMaster to be poorly designed and incomplete in as much as it lack obvious features.
Here are some issues I found:
1) Navigation within the app is terrible.
When brewing, after setting up a recipe, you work from the batch screen. Before I mashin I measure the grain temperature. To change this value you have to navigate through 6 screens to get from the batch view to the screen where you edit your mash profile. Here is a tour:
Start in the batch display. Press batches to get to the list of batches.
From the list of batches, press setup on the bottom row to get to the setup screen. Please note, I edited the bottom row to avoid having to go through the "more" list. That would have added one more screen.
Now on the setup screen scroll down and press the to mash profile option.
Now select your preferred mash profile.
Finally we can edit the grain temperature. To get back we repeat the same multi screen process in reverse.
When setting up recipes and getting the tool optimized I was constantly walking through pages. It got old and made the app a chore.
2) Entering numbers for values requires endless use of numeric sliders rather than just typing.
The photo above is an example of the numeric sliders. These are all over. They really slow down number entry. This has been pointed out to the developer (by other users) through the in app feature request tool.
The developer responds: Status: Under Review, comment from Joe "See the sync feature request notes...considering the dozens of places pickers exist and the thousands of lines of code behind them...this would be part of the rewrite to support iCloud syncing"
Under synching Joe comments, "We really want this feature, unfortunately, it will require an entire rewrite of the apps...This will be an extremely large under taking and is under consideration...we may implement this with more advanced features, elimination of pickers, and expanded functionality. We'll first complete the inventory model, Mac fixes, and release the Android version, at which time we'll take a closer look at this".
Sorry for all the quotes, but, bottom line the pickers will be there for a while.
By the way, the in app feature request tool is a good idea.
3) The app requires users to enter efficiency when designing an all grain recipe, but, the app doesn't bother to calculate efficiency from your measured volumes and original gravity.
This drives me crazy. Calculating efficiency is easy. Probably an oversight, but, to me it is a big one. If they get around to efficiency I hope they add the ability to add measured pre-boil and post boil volumes so you can calculate accurate mash and kettle/brewhouse efficiencies.
its not perfect, it hasn't been out too long either, but ive had pretty decent success with it on the ipad, the pickers slow things down, but i'm not in a race. i give it a B-/C+ for now, i am sure it will continue to evolve over time and eventually get better. $10 is not very much really, so i don't personally consider it a "waste".
4) The mash water calculations are confusing and difficult to use.
Setting up the mash calculations is confusing. Initial infusions and infusion steps seem fairly straight forward. This part of the tool sometimes has an "auto calc" button to press and sometimes does not. I am not sure why and it is not obvious to tell which fields are are auto calculated and which are not since all boxes are the same color.
My favorite is adding a batch sparge. First, I didn't find a batch sparge option so I created my own. I came up with a totally blank screen in mash setup! What?!
Here is the blank screen, renamed "Batch Sparge". I selected "auto calc." and "sparge". Notice I did not set a Target Mash temp or water temp. Setting those has no effect.
This is a screen showing the resulting batch sparge step. Notice it calculated I need 13.53 quarts at 175F. Changing the water temp or target mash temp on the setup screen has no effect on the 175F output. That is odd and not confidence inspiring.
5) The water volumes are displayed at different relative temperatures in different places.
The water volumes for mash steps are measured at room temp (I think). The boil size output seems to be at 212F. I think these numbers should be consistent.
I figured this out because the tool tells me I have 6.87g boil size and 5.2g batch. If I subtract 1.3g for boil off in 60 minutes and 0.15g kettle trub loss I get 5.42g. It took me a long time to realize I need to multiply the 5.42g by 0.96 (5.42*0.96=5.2) to account for 4% shrinkage. I like to check the math.
6) There is a setting for kettle trub loss. Instructions tell you to set this to 0 if you pour all the trub in the fermenter. That seems wrong to me. I still loose volume to trub. It is just that I keep the trub volume around longer. I bring this up because the developer just put out a bug fix talking about how this setting affects OG prediction. I don't think it should.
7) There is no setting for volume lost to yeast. I think this should exist to accurately predict final batch size and to accurately calculate brewhouse efficiency. Yeast reproduction will absorb some water which results in less beer (final batch size) which in turn affects brewhouse efficiency.
8) You can't get a refund. I know this is Apple's fault, but it is still annoying and a $10 price tag for the app makes this harder to stomach.
I got this response to my refund request from the developer: "In either case, we are unable to provide refunds as Apple handles all the financial transactions. They do not even let developers know who has purchased their apps, let alone allow them a means of providing refunds. You would have to contact Apple to request a refund under their refund policies as they are the reseller. Please understand that we would certainly provide a refund if possible, however, it would be like going to Sony to refund a TV that you bought at Best Buy. We simply do not have the physical capability."
He is right of course he can't give me the refund. He was also quick to respond and polite.
When I contacted Apple for a refund through the "report a problem" link in my emailed receipt, iTunes told me to contact the developer about my problems and deactivated the "report a problem" link. Now when I click "report a problem" it tells me I have already reported a problem and can't do so again!
I don't mind paying the price tag to be honest; it's not really all that much and I've paid for much worse apps. It's two cups of coffee out of my life.
With that being said though I do think iBrewMaster has a long way to go. It fails for me on so many levels. I even use the iPad version which I consider to be much easier to navigate than the iPhone version.
I don't mind the numeric sliders. Sorry to rant on this but it's a damned iOS app -- almost every date or numeric field in any iOS app uses numeric sliders.
What I despise about the app is:
1. Calculations. Real versus actual, efficiency (you talked about it)
2. Inventory. Sucks. Period. Never should have been put in until it was done. There is no definitive way to subtract a batch's ingredients from inventory. and when it does (when does that happen?? LOL. I know it happens at some trigger) if you modify the damn recipe it basically resets it, but doesn't put the ingredients back into inventory.
3. Social integration. This is broken. as soon as I create a new batch it posts to my FB wall because the default "brew date" is today. Once I go in and edit it to move it forward to a planned date the system doesn't care because it's already posted. Then when it does post it's more of an Ad for iBrewMaster.
4. Mash Steps -- Horrible. I tried to figure out how to do a decoction + batch sparge. Took me a good 20 minutes. I could have done it on a bit of paper with a pencil in that amount of time. I love how Beersmith does this guys. Batch/Sparge is an ending option -- not really a mash step. Mashing ends at mash-out, the rest is rinsing.
Anyway.. figured I'd agree/disagree with you on a few points.
I really do want iBrewMaster to get better. I love carrying the iPad into the garage rather than my laptop but I just don't have any desire to design or use iBrewMaster as my primary tool because of all the problems with it.
I'll stick with beersmith and use iBrewMaster as a glorious brew-day timer for right now.
Thanks for doing this, I've not been able to find much in depth info on the program beyond "it rocks." Ive been considering getting this, rather than waiting for Brad t "get around" to writing an app for the iphone. But spending 10 bucks for it, and then spending whatever to get the bs app when it comes out doesn't seem right.
For me, all I really want is to be able to creat my recipes as I do in beersmith already and then be able to open them and manipulate them as needed on my phone in the field. I don't know if I necessarily even want to write my recipes on my phone, it seems too much to do on a small platform.
But thanks for giving some valid sounding criticisms of it....People seem to rave about it but noone seems to actually discuss how it works.
i think generally, people who are familiar with or accustomed to Beersmith will be generally disappointed with ibrewmaster.
for people who are new to brewing software and don't know enough to know what they are missing, and are especially looking for something for ipad, then ibrewmaster is probably more acceptable.
Navigation can be a little clunky, and there's 50 pages of directions that I kept in my bathroom for a month and a half, but overall I like it. I have it on my phone, I use it to brew with so it's definitely easy to carry out to the garage, and everywhere else I go. In fact, thats the big plus as far as I'm concerned. I always have my brew log and notes with me, wherever I go. I'm able to answer recipe questions at the HBS and events, bars, friends houses, etc. it also allows me to tinker with recipes wherever I go. I feel it's a great value for 10 bucks.
I think it all comes down to what one is used to/comfortable with. I started with brewpal, and have since dabbled with most of the available software for the Mac/iPhone. I have actually found the ibrewmaster to be the easiest, after the learning curve becomes second nature as to where to find things. I have found the calculations to be accurate, and don't mind the sliders, probably because they are used across the board in any iPhone app. It would be nice to be able to turn them off if desired though. I tried both beer alchemy as well as beersmith after using ibrewmaster, and while I like the interface of the beersmith app, I find it so convenient to carry my phone or iPad to brew day for reference that I have found myself reentering my beersmith data into my ibrewmaster app on the night prior to brew day, so have ultimately gone back to using the ibrewmaster 90% of the time. I do agree that the inventory function could be better, but it's not difficult to take a look prior to going to the LHBS to see what I need, and I have been very happy thus far with the frequent updates to the software, and trust that the function will improve with time. Other than that, from a practical standpoint, I think it's a wash as far as which one to use - provided that beersmith eventually gets a mobile version of its software. That essentially has made the difference for me. And I remain amazed how simple it is for me to create/edit recipes anywhere I am with the ibrewmaster. I have never felt constrained by the small device despite all of the information that the app is juggling/displaying. I also think the ability to simply create and manage multiple batches simultaneously is a great feature that is incredibly simple to use in ibrewmaster. This is a feature that I simply haven't found to be relocated by the other software. Just my two cents after having used several of the programs. FWIW, I have also used beer alchemy for a short period, but could never manage to use it as easily as the others. IMHO, beersmith and ibrewmaster are the two simplest to use and the best bang for the buck.
Thanks kehaar for sharing this. I think I will continue using Ye Olde ProMash on my laptop.
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