iPhone apps are probably the most popular thing to be used since the color TV. We’ve seen companies of all sizes put together some really cool concepts for iPhone apps. While most of these applications exist only as marketing techniques, some of them are quite useful. The question is, however, are they meeting the expectations of iPhone users? Regardless of the app’s cost, we expect these applications to run fast and without a glitch, especially the ones made by established high-tech companies. iPhone apps should be designed for those who are 100% mobile; otherwise, we might as well hop on the computer for the same information.
Corporations are scrambling and fighting for the business in today’s poor economy. From starting blogs on their websites to producing iPhone and iPod touch applications, they are doing whatever they can for marketing purposes. Some companies are successful in marketing or branding with the iPhones and some fail miserably, tarnishing what used to be a good reputation.
Brand apps that don’t disappoint…
Google Mobile (Free)
Google Mobile has just made it faster and easier for you to search Google. It has a great user interface and allows you to search by voice (and understands the different English language accents.) Google Mobile uses the lower case ‘g’ for their icon. It’s different.
The shopping cart on the icon is a great reminder of what you can do at Amazon. Spend money! No more need to wait until you get home to look for or buy what you want. Turn on your iPhone or iPod touch, go to the Amazon icon and begin to navigate your way through a pleasant experience with this app.
Web MD Mobile (Free)
WebMD Mobile gives you an easy to identify icon along with a good user interface. No matter where you are, when you need information on basic first aid, symptoms, and CPR instructions, WebMD provides this quickly.
B&N Bookstore, Barnes & Noble (Free)
One of the best things about this iPhone app is that it’s easy to identify by the icon. It’s clean, plain and simple, showing the well-known named bookstore, Barnes & Noble. There is a beautiful layout which allows you to search for your favorite book or even read some reviews. You can even see future events at your local store.
NY times (Free)
NY Times is a must have app for those who want to know what’s going on in the world. Pages load fast so you can read the latest and greatest on your favorite topics. It runs smoothly and has a great user interface. The NY Times also uses a one letter icon with the same font as their website logo.
ESPN ScoreCenter (Free)
This is a great application for the sports fan. Input your favorite teams and you’re never too far away from receiving the latest scores and news. ESPN has nice graphics and good user interface. I would lose the 79 on the icon and go straight with the red background and white lettering.
Bank of America Mobile Banking (Free)
Initially, Bank of America Mobile Banking was off to a rocky start. Keeping the consumer in mind, Bank of America quickly resolved issues from the previous version. They now have a nice design and a good User Interface to make your mobile banking experience a pleasant one. The design of their logo for the icon doesn’t display their traditional colors and may not be easily recognizable.
Whole Foods Market Recipes (Free)
This is a great way for Whole Foods to compliment their grocery stores. Now as you shop, you can pick-up the items you need for particular recipes. Are you lactose intolerant or have a special diet? No problem! This app will display a list of delicious recipes that will accommodate your dietary needs. The icon is very fitting and easy to identify.
iFood Assistant by KRAFT ($0.99)
Other than a few annoying ads, this is a good app. Gain access to delicious recipes right at your fingertips. There are easy directions with pics of teh final product. No more fuss with recipe books. Unless the icon is a new logo, the folks in branding need to do a little work. Without a name, it’s not the easiest to identify.
AAA Discounts (Free)
This application provides great information on discounts to AAA members. AAA has served their customers well for many years. Now they’ve brought it to the next level by providing a magnificent application for your iPhone or iPod Touch. With continuous service, you are able to locate hotels, stores, restaurants, and much more for the discounted prices. Accurate directions to the locations are also provided.
Now for the real disappointments…
AT&T my Wireless Mobile (Free)
AT&T, the corporation who has the exclusive rights to provide service to iPhones in the United States, takes an entire year before putting out an application. The user interface is poor and not user friendly. It’s quite buggy and sluggish. So which is worse? AT&T Customer Service or their iPhone app? Tough choice there.
Cisco Global Internet Speet Test (Free)
Cisco Systems was listed as #6 on the 100 Best Companies to Work for according to Fortune Magazine. However, they failed with writing a good app for the iPhone. Just because an app is free does not mean it’s good. Some may experience difficulties with the download and install. If you’re able to get the application running, you will find that it’s slow and buggy. It’s surprising Cisco put their name on this disappointing app.
Quicken Online Mobile, by Intuit Corp. (Free)
People use Yelp to see where businesses are located, along with reading and writing reviews. When you’re completely mobile and rely on an application to help you locate a great restaurant or pub at the last minute, you would hope to be given current and accurate data. Yelp has outdated and useless information for Points of Interest in many areas. Yelp cries for help as they publish a disappointing iPhone app.
FedEx Mobile for iPhone (Free)
FedEx has a few things to change with their next update. When tracking a package, it should not require a person to input their life history. When you track a package online, all you need is a tracking number. This app should do the same. If you have a FedEx account already set-up, the app will not synchronize with computers from your home or office. The icon is great and easy to identify. Their overall shipping service is amazing, but this app is disappointing.
Nationwide Mobile (Free)
This app features some handy information one might use to be well-organized after being in an accident, but the app crashes and some might have issues with the download. The icon features their same boring logo which you will find on the website.
Yahoo Mobile (Free)
Yahoo was doing great with their mobile iPhone app until the most recent update. Customers are steaming with Yahoo Mobile as it now redirects you to Safari to open your yahoo email. Granted there is more to an app than email, but when a company such as Yahoo offers email accounts to customers, they should have an application that provides easy access. This is a useless app and quite disappointing.
Audi A4 Driving Challenge (Free)
The developers for Audi A4 Driving Challenge fixed the reported bug in this latest version. The accelerometer controls work great now, but it’s still difficult to control the car. Optional car colors are not available. The way it is now, the car blends in with the asphalt. The only perspective is a birds-eye view. Users were expecting more from a car company.
Flex Photo Lab, Ford Motor Company (Free)
When I think of Ford Motor Company, the first things that come to mind would be the Model A, Model T, a 1955 Thunderbird, or even a classic Mustang. But FlexPhotoLab for your iPhone? Yes, it’s free, but so are many other applications. That does not make this product good. It’s missing many basic features a photo editor should have, such as zoom in or even crop. Ford should stick with cars. That’s what they’ve been doing for over a century now.
Even if you wanted to fill up space with icons on your iPhone, there are plenty of well-designed ones available. Hotels.com provides you with a completely useless link to their website via Safari for a lame attempt to satisfy your travel needs.
In conclusion, when large companies put out a product for the iPhone, the customers will have high expectations. High numbers of downloads would occur because of name recognition alone, but the high ratings will not be there unless they raise the bar. Free or not, a good quality app is what people want to fill the valuable space on their iPhone with. It’s clear that companies should invest more time into building an outstanding app, rather than just having their presence in the iTunes Store. If you’re looking for a good way to market, iPhone apps are an excellent idea only if you make a quality app. Some companies have realized that, but many still have not.