The App: Quipper
The Device: HTC Incredible (Android)
The Price: Free
The Basics: Quipper is an app built for two different perspectives: those who want to learn and those who enjoy a good round of trivia. The app consists entirely of user-created quizzes, with subjects ranging from the Renaissance to 1970s television. Quipper can function as a study-aid , letting you research a subject or create a custom quiz of questions you need to study (and which can then be used by everyone else also studying the subject) or it can be a wonderful time-waster/road trip tool, where you pick a subject and see just how much you know (because there’s nothing sweeter than proving to your girlfriend that you know the name of Richie Cunningham’s older brother).
The Examination: Conceptually, I’m deeply in love with Quipper. I don’t think it’s where it needs to be quite yet, but with some updates and technical massages, I think it has the potential to become a truly essential app. I’m certainly not alone in thinking this, since the app recently raised a boatload of funding. Right now, Quipper feels like the first draft of something truly great.
A quick note: this review is of the Android version of Quipper. A brief Google search suggests that the iOS version may have some differences, but I haven’t had a chance to directly compare the two.
Although Quipper generally functions fine (outside of it slowing down and eventually locking up once during my time playing with the app), it’s not always pretty to look at. Its layout is functional at best and ugly at worst. Sure, it gets the job done, but it needs a complete and total visual overhaul. Too many apps look far too good for something this rough-around-the-edges and Quipper is far too much fun to be dismissed after a glimpse at its cluttered main page.
Quipper never stops being a little cluttered and visually cumbersome, but once you get familiar with navigating the app and actually dive into the content, much of those problems can be forgiven, mainly because Quipper is just plain fun to use. Although the main page offers “hot topics” (“Western Films” and “Music of the ’60s” are at the top of the list as I write this), I went to the Search tab to find my first quiz. You can search for any subject by typing in a word or phrase or by selecting an option from various categories (“Arts and Entertainment, “Math and Science,” etc) and from there you get even more specific (“Games,” “Classics,” “Chemistry,” “Biology” and so on). There are an impressive number of quizzes available under each subject and the beauty of Quipper is that if you don’t see one that applies to you, you can just make your own…which sadly can’t be done in-app. You have to register on Quipper’s site to create quizzes.
Once you’ve selected a quiz (I started with a James Bond quiz, because that’s how I roll), it’s pretty simple. You are given a question. You have four options. You pick one. You either get it right or you get it wrong. You are shown the percentage of users who picked each answer. Every ten questions, you have the option to call it a day or keep going. It’s that simple. Your stats (number of right/wrong answers, etc) are stored under the “Review” tab. The subjects you’ve selected are placed under “My Topics,” letting you revisit them as you see fit. It’s simple and more importantly, it’s a terrifically fun time waster.
But how is it as an educational tool? This is another area where Quipper can use a little more work, but it’s something that could be easily rectified. When you get a question right or wrong, a brief explanation about the proper answer and why it’s the right answer would be helpful and would actually educate the user rather than simply give them a “correct” or “incorrect.” This would also help curb mistakes on quizzes. During my several hours spent testing Quipper, there were a handful of answers that simply felt incorrect to me, but since the app offers no explanation for the answers, getting these wrong was frustrating. Was I missing something? If I’m incorrect, why am I incorrect and why did I think differently? It may seem like a small detail, but an addition would result in a hugely improved experience.
Right now, Quipper feels like a test run for something truly special. The app will stay on my smartphone, waiting for the the big update that’ll take it from good to great.
The Final Grade: B