Advice on Home Gauge Companion

Hello folks:

I am looking at buying the Home Gauge Companion app to increase the efficiency of my report writing.
There are a few questions current users may have ideas about.
When talking to the Home Gauge staff, they have told me that this app works better on an android than an I phone. I currently take all my photos with an i phone and down load them directly onto my computer. I am looking at what other type of device I can buy that will work as a camera/ app, keeping my i phone as just my phone. At my last inspection, my I phone battery died as the inspection was huge and it was really cold out, so I took the rest of the photos with a Samsung Galaxy J3 Prime a friend had given me. The photos were poor in comparison to the I phone and the screen was less responsive.
What are you using for companion app and why do you like it? Are you maybe using some sort of camera thing and not a phone?
Also, I don’t want to buy the monthly companion cloud subscription. Are any of you downloading your inspections directly onto the computer from the app? Does this link well with the desktop version?
I am willing to spend the money on another device, but maybe there are I phone users who can attest to good results with the companion app and will save me the hassle of shopping around.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Kaitlan, I have the companion app on my android and use a cable to load the reports on the computer. To be perfectly honest I don’t use the app at all. I just take pictures (no notes), upload to my laptop with the SD card and create the report on my laptop. You can, however, transfer the reports with a USB cable. Start the report on the laptop. give it a clients name and a report number (2 digit year, month, day, last name initial). when I hook it up to my laptop(windows10) it shows up in explorer as my phone name and I open the “phone” (not the micro SD) where I find a folder marked home gauge and inside one marked reports. This is where I drag and drop my already started report (also in a folder called reports inside the home gauge folder in documents). I rename the report in the phone just by adding a ‘C’ suffix to the same name. This is just to differentiate report copies when I go to merge the results later back to the laptop. If you have a Mac, I don’t know. I would suggest you get a backup battery pack for your phone and keep it charged. The one I have is called “iHome” and I bought it at BBB. works good and will run my phone or Ipad when it is dead.

PM me if you have any problems and I’ll try to help you through it.

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Thank you so much for this. I really appreciate the detail of your email. This will really help. I will definitely contact you if I get messed up. I took only plan to take the photos in the right sections.
Thanks.
Kaitlan.

Kailan – So I’m an “IPHONE” guy, but when I started doing Home Inspections and decided on HG as my report writing software I was also told that the companion worked better on ANDRIOD. I ended up purchasing a SAMSUNG NOTE 8 because I wanted the stylus — which I have never used. I think the big thing is you want something with a bigger screen so its easier to use but not so big that it becomes bulky. As for pictures – I think you will find that while just about any of the newer phones have camera’s that actually “too good” then you will want to use with HG. HG actually recommends you use a 3rd party camera APP so you can lower the size of the photos to down under a Megbyte each. My NOTE’s stock camera APP was taking 4-5 MB pics that were too big to work nicely with HG. I think I use CAMERMX APP… As for the uploading… I pay for the service so you can use the companion and then upload the pics/report to the cloud and then download it all to your desktop to finish up. What I typically do is take the pictures in the HG Companion APP and then go back on my desktop and add the narratives. Works well for me…

Good luck…

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You MUST use Android with HG. With that said, the newest software update negates the phone’s ability to use a third party camera app with HG. You have to use the stock camera. HG updated the data transfer limit to help, but no solution.

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What is the newest software? Companion says 5.4.1.6 Still takes photos with the Open camera app.

Sorry, Android software update. I have been delaying mine as long as possible.

Hi Kaitlin,
I’m an apple guy all the way. I use an iPhone xs max for my reports on site and no issues. This phone does not have a phone number so it is basically an expensive iPod. This way I’m not interrupting my report when the phone rings. I also use companion. When I take pictures they go right into the section. When I’m done I upload the report to my apple laptop and finish the report. I run parallels on my laptop to accommodate the software. However, homeguage does write native to android but the programmers at hg use apple. Go figure. Good luck.

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I do have HG and also the Companion. I will normally start off the day at the HG desktop and then upload it to the cloud and then we will load it onto the companion for use during the inspection. (I say we because my son is now working with me, he is almost certified). My son will enter some info into the companion as we do the inspection but truthfully I use a separate camera for 90% of the photos when documenting issues and defects, it also has WiFi so I use it on a pole for roofs also. My camera hangs around my neck and leaves my hands free. I tried using a tablet, big screen is nice and easier to navigate on but I find that carrying it around is cumbersome …you always have to lay it down to do actual work and you can’t put it in tight places for a photo. (so the Companion is now on our android phones) I also do not trust the companion to positively save information, especially if you are in the middle of something and need to take a phone call and inadvertently shut down the companion app it may loose the last five minutes of info work.

I just find it clunky to enter the info on the companion while at the inspection, except for cookie cutter items. We do 90% of the report on the desktop using photos taken on my main, water and shockproof camera. (Also the photos are left Hi-Res…You simply can’t put a hi res photo in companion, so cropping a photo to show detail later is not an option.

We do use the cloud so info on the Companion is uploaded and then downloaded to the desktop. Sometimes we will enter more info on the companion if we find we need to wait for a client (like styles and materials).
For me I find the companion limited except for quick cookie cutter items. I’d much rather sit at the desktop to do the report writing and also I find editing pictures much easier on a device with a full size keyboard and large/multiple screens.

Now I do have a photographic memory (my camera is my memory) and all I really do at the inspection is take photos, very seldom do I need to write anything down as far as info or take notes, the exception is if I cant take a photo of a data plate (HVAC or WH), then I may need to jot down the info. but normally I just photograph them. And much easier to take a few photos quickly with a camera and then pick the best, place it where needed when at the desktop…instead of trying to place a photo in a particular section while at the inspection (and hope the photo is of good quality…after you get back to the office).
In short I find the companion of limited benefit and has limitations and is not ever going to be a stand-a-lone report writing platform or something that actually saves you much time. Also if you visit the HG Facebook users page many of the issues is with the Companion and or rather people trying to rely on it for doing much of the inspection.

This is just my opinion but I have been using HG for almost 11 years and the Companion when it was first used on a PDA. I do find it useful but in a way I find a Hammer and a Crescent Wrench useful. Need the rest of the tool box to overhaul your Chevy.

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Totally agree, and I’ve been using HG for 15 or more years.
The app is about 1 step up from terrible.

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Thank you Michael. So much to think about. Do you actually find your report writing is shorter with the companion app? How long are your reports on a normal house?
Thanks! Katy

Thanks Scot. Appreciate the info.

Thanks Ed. So you haven’t experienced weirdness with using an i phone?

Thank you for the detailed reply Larry. So you are using the companion more as a time filler when you are waiting for a client?
All this advice is greatly appreciated.
Thank you for the email.

Do you find that using the companion app to take photos you have saved yourself time? If this is just an expensive new learning curve that doesn’t save me time, I doubt I will invest in it.
Thanks

Kaitlan – as many have said already – I do take a lot of pictures OUTSIDE of the companion app. That said I do try to take as many pictures as I can directly into the companion – especially things like the HVAV units, Waterheaters, their dataplates, etc. I have found that taking the picture directly into the companion greatly speeds up my report writing. Once I’m done my inspection I send the report to the cloud, then download it from the cloud to my desktop and the full HG software suite. Then open up the report on my desktop and change the search from “find Next” to “edit all pictures”. Then I just go picture to picture making my comments and selecting saved narratives. By doing this I think I probably cut down my report writing by at least 1-2 hours. I would say on an average house I’m on site 2-3 hours and then report writing is another 2-3 hours depending on how many things are wrong.

I actually do like Larry and Dominic above. I have always taken my “notes” as it were just by taking alot of pictures. Did this before I acquired Home Gauge and companion and kinda felt that was part of the problem. Just hadn’t broken the ice on companion. I was kinda encouraged by Mike’s post to take another look at it and if possible look at facebook posts (my laptop for some reason won’t even load my facebook page). I like Home Gauge just don’t get alot of use out of companion. Good luck

Personally - I have tried several times to use the companion app, and I just feel like it makes the inspection last longer and especially annoying to a client if I am so buried in the app that I cannot answer questions. It is easy to navigate, but I find that I spend too much time going from “Interiors” to “Electrical” to “Appliances” while in the same part of the kitchen. I find it much better, quicker and effective to take pictures and do it all at home. I wish I could give you my companion app access to play with! It is useless to me and I have not used it in the last 300 inspections or so. It seems to work for others, but I guess I have my template set up differently that is my primary template for residential houses…just food for thought. If you get into the companion, you should really look at aligning your primary template in a manner to not have to skip around as much.

That gives me a thought (my wife says it doesn’t happen often). Would the companion app be easier to use in the room by room templates. and could you then merge that with a system template?

Bob - I believe this would be the case, but I do not like my report being compiled this way for the finished product and so I have no played with it…yet.