The apps are functionally identical but we’ve branded them with their own identities to help give the collection concept more exposure in the Google Play Store.
What Do They Do?
The apps are simple catalogues or inventories of items that you wish to track. The items can be any mixture of things. For the Freezer app, the expectation is that these will be items in your freezer(s). For the Storage app, it will be items you have in your garage, attic or storage units.
The apps store all their data in ‘The Cloud’ using a secure database. Because of this the application requires you to sign in using a Google sign in. This allows Google to authenticate you and we can be sure that it’s you we are talking to and ensure that your data is kept secure.
Because the data is in ‘The Cloud’, the application does require a reasonably good network connection and there may be associated data charges when using the application.
The apps do support some limited capability when working offline. You can browse existing collections and modify items in them. These changes will be uploaded to the cloud when you next have connectivity. Be aware that another person making changes to the same items will likely cause problems and their changes may overwrite yours.
Collections, Containers and Items
Simply put, collections have containers that have items.
You can think of a collection as a group of freezers and fridges, or perhaps as a house. Collections have a name and a note associated with them.
Within a collection are containers. A container is a an area for items, or other containers. Containers have a name and note associated with them.
An item is a ‘thing’. It could be a frozen chicken, a bag of peas or a toy. Items have a name and a note associated with them. Items can also have a quantity, to indicate how many there are, and an expiry date, to indicate when the item expires. Whilst the expiry date is primarily meant for food items, it is just a date that could have any meaning, such as the date an item needs to be checked.
There is no limit the the number of items or containers a collection can hold. Neither is the depth of containers limited (think Russian dolls). You can also have as many collections as you like, both ones you own and ones that have been shared with you.
How to Organise your Collections
The key to organising a collection is to firstly understand your requirements for a collection. There are three key things to consider for collections:
Searching works within collections and you cannot search across collections (we might relax this in the future). This means that if you want to find all the items of a particular type, then they should probably go into the same collection.
For example, if you want to look for frozen chickens, then all your freezers (the ones in the kitchen, the garage and the pantry) should probably be in the same collection. In this example you would have containers called Kitchen, Garage and Pantry, each with their own containers and items.
When you share a collection, you are giving other people access to all the items in a collection. This means they have the ability to add and delete items in a collection. You need to think carefully about what you would like other people to see and be able to change. If you require some items to be private, then they should be in their own collection that is not shared.
If you will need to find items in a collection, then the hierarchy of a collection should reflect the layout of the collection.
For example, a Freezer collection should have containers that represent the drawers, baskets and shelves in a freezer. The items within the containers represent the real items on the shelves in your freezer. When you view an item, you can see the hierarchy to enable you to find it, e.g. Frozen Chicken -> Shelf 1 -> Garage Freezer.
For a collection of coins, then the hierarchy may be less physical and could represent, say, the denomination, e.g. a container of 50 pence coins containing all the different 50p coins.
The lists shown in the collections apps can all be sorted, with the exception of My Collections. The sort method chosen is remembered for each collection or container and, in the case of shared collections, only affects your view of the items.
The options for sorting are:
- Name. Items are sorted alphanumerically in ascending order.
- Expiry. Items are sorted by expiry date in ascending order. Items without an expiry date are shown at the bottom of the list sorted by name.
- Quantity. Items are sorted by quantity in reverse numerical order. Items without a quantity are shown at the bottom of the list sorted by name.
- User Defined. This initially sorts the list in the order in which items were added. However, in this mode you can ‘drag and drop’ items into any order. Just ‘long-press’ the item and then drag it to the desired location.
- To see a list of items that are about to expire, open the search screen and change the sort mode to ‘expiry’.
- To see a list of items that have zero quantity, open the search screen and change the sort mode to ‘quantity’
Tags can be attached to items and are useful for creating ad-hoc groupings of similar categories of items that may be spread across a collection, e.g. you could tag all ‘meat’ items in the different drawers in a collection of freezers.
Items can have multiple tags, so if your collections has lots of different chicken items (legs, breast, breaded, sliced, nuggets) you might want to tag them all with chicken and meat.
Tags are especially useful in the search mode where you can filter by a tag name to see all items with that tag. For instance, to see all items with a ‘meat’ tag, just select the tag.
Only the collection owner can create tags although any user of the collection can tag items.
Doing More with Tags
Tags can also be used for defining general attributes or facts of items.
For instance, imagine a shared collection on beers. Certain tags could mark the type (lager, ale, cider) others the strength (strong, med, light) and yet others the taste (fruity, hoppy, sweet, strong).
You can then filter on these to find drinks for the mood you are in (strong, hoppy, ale).
Tags could help with shopping (while we sort out a shopping list feature). For example, you are in the ‘meat’ aisle of your supermarket and want to know what meat to buy?
Open the app and got to the collection with food in it, select the search screen and filter by meat. Now sort by quantity and you can see a list of meat items that have zero quantity. Similarly for fish, bread, veg, etc.
When you want to share a collection, go into the collection and click on the ‘share’ icon. You will be prompted to enter the email address of the person you which to share the collection with.
When the other person installs the app and signs in, they will see a notification informing them that a collection has been shared. When they click on the notification, it will prompt them to accept or decline the invitation. If they accept, they will see the collection under their ‘My Collections’ tab.
Note that the email address you use to share must match the one that is registered with the account the person uses to sign in with, i.e. their Google or Google Play account email.
Important: Be aware that sharing a collection gives the invitee full access to add, change or delete items in that collection. The invitee cannot, however, invite other people to share that collection as only the owner can share a collection.
When sharing collections the other person will need to purchase a subscription to see the shared collection. We currently offer a 30 day free trial when you sign up which you can cancel at any point in the trial and you will not be charged.