Conjure 3 review
Needs Mac OS X 10.5
Review Date: 8 Oct 2008
Price when reviewed: (about £13.82)
Reviewed By: Giles Turnbull
We had high hopes for this Leopard-only release of Conjure, as we were a bit disappointed by the previous version.
The application's developer, Conjure Bunny, hopes it will replace your Desktop with something more 'vibrant'. Indeed, Conjure has been rewritten to make use of Core Animation, the system-level framework that makes Leopard's eye candy look so tasty. However, while there are plenty of nice visual effects, the application can be frustrating in use.
Not that Conjure is particularly difficult to understand. It effectively acts as a secondary Desktop - in fact, an unlimited stack of Desktops that you can create and tweak to your own tastes. Each of them is a playground for interaction between you and your data - at least, that's how Conjure is marketed. The theory is that you might use Conjure's Desktops more intuitively than you would the standard Mac OS X desktop.
Objects placed in a Conjure Desktop can be directly manipulated, tugged around, rotated and realigned in any way that suits. You can type or draw directly on the Desktop and group items in Stack-style Clusters. Furthermore, your contacts can be dragged from the Address Book and turned into icons that perform actions - for example, sending an email or opening a chat window - when they're clicked on or dragged to.
There are some good ideas here - we're particularly fond of the aforementioned Address Book options and the Clothesline view of folders that lets you visually rip a folder in half and browse its contents in a vaguely Coverflow-like way. However, the good ideas can't hide the bugs and the odd behaviours. In our tests, objects did strange things such as vanishing or appearing some distance from where they were dropped. Object icons also tended to resize themselves without being asked. And maybe it's just us, but we couldn't help feeling that Conjure was an answer seeking a question: we struggled to think of circumstances where it would be useful.
Conjure remains an interesting concept, and this release is better than the ones before, but we can't find enough useful functionality to justify the price tag.
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