Posts Tagged iPhone App

BreakingNews.ie Android App Review

If you’re a smartphone user, you probably have your phone full of apps that enable easy and quick access to your most loved sources of information. I know I do and one that I was delighted to see released was BreakingNews.ie’s Android App.

Typically, I had my mobile phone’s internet browser set to my Google IG page which listed my favourite news feeds on the homescreen when I opened it. I found after much use, I noticed that out of all the feeds I had listed, the one I used most was the breaking news feed.

The only problem with this that was that the content wasn’t mobile friendly when you visited the BreakingNews.ie website and therefore it was a bit annoying trying to navigate and read content.

After checking out the news again last night on my mobile, I noticed that BreakingNews.ie had gone “mobile” with their website, which was excellent. And to make things even better, they were advertising the fact that they now had an Android and iPhone App to boot! So off I went to download and install!

After installing the app, I fired it up and instantly noticed that the app was most likely developed with Titanium’s Appcelerator Development Platform – the “Restart is Required” message was a dead giveaway as it is a major bug bear for many Titanium mobile app developers on Android.

This is where I began to get worried about this app. A quick search on Google would have given the developer some very easy solutions to implement that would remove this message, but it appears they didn’t even bother looking into resolving this. Once I see this sort of laziness, I expect their to be more issues to come within the app.

And as expected, when the app restarted, I was instantly shown a runtime error. I’m given two options, Kill or Continue. If I wasn’t familiar with this error (as it’s not a “force kill” error that you’d come to expect with Android) I probably would have chosen Kill. This would have left me in an endless loop as the application would repeatedly restart until I choose the other option. I knew that I should be safe enough to choose Continue, so I did and continued to play with the app.

Again, it becomes blatantly obvious that the developer was either purely lazy or just had no inclination at all as to what way a user expects from a mobile app.

They presumed that people just want to see the latest articles when they land on the homescreen of the app. I sincerely doubt they did any sort of user testing and just went with their gut on how it should be presented. For me, I would expect the app to allow me to view a choice of categories from the homescreen or even given the ability to choose the categories that I would like to appear on the homescreen. Instead, I just get all the latest news articles in a list.

There is a “menu” button at the top left of the screen which allows you to choose from a radio buttoned list of categories, I’m not sure if this is just to select your default category or just choose a category from which you wish to view articles from. Either way, when you select an option from this list, you get a runtime error.

After playing around with it a bit more, in the hope that the app would improve (in some way), I noticed that they had another menu from the “menu” button on Android. Typically I would associated this with either extra settings or a refresh. In this case, it’s being used as a navigational tool. When you click this, it allows you to choose “News Menu” which brings you to a page which I feel in this app’s case really should be the homescreen.

As I continued through the app I received a number of “Force Kills”, which I just couldn’t take anymore of. I had to uninstall it.

This app could have been very useful to me, but unfortunately it’s just not. Apart from the errors, the user interface leaves a lot to be desired. They could really do with adding a widget or notification system to notify you over your preferred latest stories and make it worthwhile installing on your phone.

Let’s face it, all it’s doing for me at the moment is giving me an alternative way of viewing their news articles other than my browser. That’s just not enough to warrant installing an app on my phone. The space and memory on my phone is just too precious for me to give up for a pointless app.

In fairness to BreakingNews.ie – most news apps in this space leave a lot to be desired. I could name a number of apps that just don’t get it right, even the mighty Sky leave a lot to be desired with their apps.

In BreakingNews.ie’s case it’s as if a web developer has just decided one day that they can develop mobile apps. They expect the user experience to be much like the web but it’s really not. Mobile is different, people engage differently and expect a lot more than a web page from their mobile app. Website design company Seattle offers best solutions in such situations.

At the moment there is very little reason for me to move away from using my browser to access this site. Their app is pretty useless to me. In fact, I have more control with a browser and their RSS feeds!

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NCT Centre Finder App for Android (iPhone too!)

 

If you have ever worked close to an NCT Centre, you are probably familiar with constantly being asked for directions to the nearest NCT Centre. Our offices are based right next door to one very busy centre, Deansgrange NCT Centre. In fairness, it’s not the most obvious of locations and until a couple of months ago, the estate didn’t even exist on Google Maps.

It became quite frustrating when every day on my way to lunch I would be stopped and asked for directions,  when the person asking was parked literally right in front of it. Maybe it’s just my old age, but I ended up resorting to just pointing a finger in the direction of the centre to anyone that started slowing down as I passed their car – I just knew what they were going to ask.

So when at a meeting with a local client who also works from Deansgrange Business Park, discussed the annoyance of this in, they suggested “wouldn’t it be great if their was an app for directions to NCT centres…”!!

We thought this was a great idea and set out to design and develop it as our first Android App.

So here it is!!

The NCT Centre Finder App is FREE and available on the Android App Market. Just search for “NCT” in the market place and you should be able to find it quite easily.

Currently the app is very simple, it lists NCT Centres by county and A-Z. We’ve built it in such a way that most functions can be run offline without a connection to the Internet. So you can see simple maps and addresses etc. Another simple tool we added was a “Checklist”. The checklist is a simple tool that lists all the items needed in preparation for your NCT test.

We wanted to do so much more with this app, but thought we should let it fly first and see if anyone is interested in using it. Please email us with any suggestions or items you’d like added and we’ll see what we can do!

The App is also available for the iPhone, simply visit www.2bscene.ie/nct on your iPhone Web Browser and it will run from there. You can also add it to your desktop on your iPhone, which will mean you will have a lovely glossy icon on your desktop.

And of course – if you’d like an iPhone or Android app for your business – why not call us and see what we can do for you!

P.S. For those who just want to have a nosey look, you can visit www.2bscene.ie/nct in Safari Browser to get an idea of what the App does.

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