Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Paid apps dominate the App Store travel category; planning a trip to Italy still a bit of a challenge

The big point of differentiation between Apple's App Store and the Android Market is the number of paid apps available on the iOS side of things. Free news apps may still out number paid ones, but in other categories paid wins out.
So when looking at travel apps in preparation for a trip to Italy (I can dream, can't I?), finding good free apps is a bit of a chore.

Alitalia, the biggest airline of Italy, has just released a new app, care of TripAdvisor. Alitalia HD is a free app that naturally assists you in booking flights. Because it does not offer landscape mode, it is essentially a mobile app, with only an up conversion to the iPad's resolution the only real advantage. The airline also has an iPhone app, but the only review in the App Store is pretty negative.

TripAdvisor has its own universal app that is pretty convenient. The name, as they say, says it all: TripAdvisor Hotels Flights Restaurants.
You may wonder why I have an upside down picture here. Actually I don't. This is the real splash page used by Michael Müller Verlag GmbH for their Florence app. It is a bizarre app in that downloading it really does nothing for you.

Once the upside down splash page goes away – and it does real fast – the app takes you to a page where you are asked which app you want to download. Now I don't know about you, but I usually assume downloading an app takes me to the content, not this one.

Instead you are told you have to download another app.

OK, after I have downloaded the other app the first one becomes totally worthless, you have to use the new one to actually download the content you wanted to begin with. Three downloads to access the content, that has to be some sort of record or something.

If there is ever a Rube Goldberg contest for app developers, Michael Müller Verlag should win without much serious competition.
The editor of The Tuscan Magazine, Sarah Fraser, seems to be pretty happy to see her magazine available for the iPad. In the introductory column she writes "It's our first birthday! Moving from strength to strength we are launching the magazine as an app on the istore. We are especially proud since none of us at TTM actually knew what an app was only a few short months ago!"

I don't doubt it.

Leaving aside the reference to "the istore", this app was not created by the publisher but is in reality simply a replica edition created by the flipbook maker Kastoff Enterprises, a Montreal-based company. Like most replicas, it really doesn't work for tablets since it was designed for print and makes no real changes for the iPad's display or capabilities.


Tablazines said...

Download an app to download another app?

Seriously? WTF were the developers thinking? How intuitive is that? Wow.

I have to laugh at "the istore". It's not a good sign when you don't even know the platform your magazine is being published on.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes publishers, in pursuit of revenue or more customers, forget all about the user interface, the bureaucrats win out.

That's why I think it is important that new apps get a thorough testing before being launched. Unfortunately, too many times developers are pushed up against deadlines and silly mistakes are made.