App Name: Instructables
Available Platforms: iOS (optimized for iPhone 5)
What does this app do? Are you itching to learn how to make a Lego USB drive? A bacon and caramelized onion pizza? How about Catnip Conversation Hearts for Valentines’ Day, or LEDs for your bike? From hobbyists to professionals, the do-it-yourself spirit is alive. Publications such as Make Magazine and events like the Maker Faire point to a growing interest (popularly called the Maker Movement) among communities of hackers, tinkerers and professionals who want to create things — from robots to steampunk art, from gourmet food to handcrafted housewares.
And it is that inventive nerve into which the Instructables app for iPhone taps. Released by Autodesk Inc., the app allows users to browse projects, create their own step-by-step guides, and share them with others in the Instructables community.
From the home screen, begin by browsing featured or recent projects posted by users, or tap the Explore button and search through 6 different categories, such as Technology, Food, or Play. Select Technology, for example, and the app displays a variety of subcategories to browse. Once you choose a project — an arduino guitar pedal, for example — you will see step-by-step instructions with photos to help you follow along.
In addition to the wealth of projects you can browse — there are over 100, 000 according to the Instructables website — the app allows users to create and upload their own guides. Once you enter a title and assign a category to your “Instructable,” you can type in step-by-step information and upload images from your camera roll. The updated version of this app allows users to manipulate images to best lay out their guides; tap and hold images to move them around the screen and rearrange them between steps.
Is it easy to set up? Downloading is a cinch. Once you launch the app, you can begin searching for that outdoor projector screen you’ve been dying to build. In order to share your own guides and projects, however, you will need sign up for an account.
Should I try it? iPhone users will find this app useful as it allows do-it-yourselfers to work with instructions by their side without having to go back and forth from a laptop or desktop. Since the app is optimized for the iPhone, however, users might prefer a more tablet friendly how-to app, such as how-to videos from Howcast.com.