Good review of mobile apps for PubMed

Todd Vandenbark

The blog iMedicalApps took on the challenge of evaluating the various mobile applications for searching PubMed in detail, which took a whopping seven pages for the final report. The blog’s editors conclude:

Of the reviewed apps, only two are worth considering, namely Pubmed Clip and Pubmed on Tap. Of these, Pubmed on Tap is the most solid choice, with basically everything you will need onboard for a reasonable price. For a little more you can get Pubmed Clip, which has by far the best looking interface and offers some distinct features that set it apart from the rest. On the iPad it gave a lot of errors, but as an only recently released initial version, we expect it to improve with time [Both Pubmed Clip and Pubmed on Tap are customized for both the iPhone and iPad].

PubMed also has its own mobile version, but as these authors accurately point out, “Although Pubmed has a mobile version of its website, it looks outdated and is not the easiest to use.” The first page opens without any search box, but instead offers a list of links to select from. Clicking on “Search MEDLINE/PubMed” takes the user to a page with not one but three search boxes:

  • Search with no filters
  • Search systematic reviews
  • Search via Clinical Queries

For a quick-and-dirty way of getting a site up, this actually has some merit if you are using a mobile device to find fast answers. Using the Clinical Queries search box with the “therapy” option selected, a search on “preeclampsia” comes up with 434 items. Unfortunately, there is no way obvious or easy way to narrow these results, which come 20 to a page, forcing the user to scroll excessively.

Perhaps with more practice, one could learn to use this site more effectively, but for now, a 3rd-party app appears to be a better solution.