Monday, December 17, 2012

Updates: Hearst shows a lack of App Store etiquette; American Airlines adds new features to mobile app, while British Airways show how to write an app description

The management team at Hearst magazines must be sadists, because they continue to appear to enjoy inflicting pain on their digital readers through double charging and releasing buggy apps. But then again, maybe their are masochists, because they seem to enjoy getting slammed by their readers inside the App Store, seemingly going out of their way to do things that bring on one-star reviews.

Late last week the media company updated its iOS app editions, but continue to insult their readers by failing to tell them what the app updates are for. Instead, the app descriptions contain this copy:

Thanks to our readers who have provided feedback on the Cosmo app! Based on your feedback, we have developed this new version to ensure you have the best reading experience. Please update now, and keep the comments coming.

No fear, their readers are happy to oblige.

"The update doesn't fix the problem. I paid 3.99$ for a magazine I can't view, it's just a black screen," wrote on of several irate readers inside the App Store.

For the most part, the Hearst magazine apps are the lowest rated inside the store. The main problem is that Hearst continues to charge all readers for the digital editions, even if the reader is already a print subscriber. But Hearst is not alone in this policy, so why are their apps so badly rated?

Well, bugs and crashes don't help. But I think it is the attitude the company has, as seen in its app description copy, that is at the root of the problem. The app description reads as if the company simply doesn't care, that it is oblivious to the problems their apps have. Honest copy writing would certainly help the situation – simply say what you are fixing, and explain your pricing policy. Not everyone will agree, and no doubt many of the one-star reviews will continue. But Hearst may be surprised to find that honesty will be enough to win over a few others, and most importantly, will prevent others from canceling their subscriptions.
American Airlines and British Airlines both issued late last week. The AA mobile app, simply called American Airlines, adds some interesting new features to an app that already has some pretty cool ones.

The app update now will re-direct the user for check-in on British Airways and Iberia, AA's two partners. The app will also show the customer's drink coupon if purchased at the time of their reservation. The update also fixed some important bugs concerning upgrades.

As for the British Airways app, its app description takes the polar opposite approach to app description writing than does Hearst. It's "What's New" copy is extensive, really extensive.

It, too, contains some marketing language, but it also contains important details about the changes in its app.

BA not only includes the changes seen in the latest update, but also includes the changes seen in the previous update. This allows them to review important additions and fixes seen in that update in order to encourage users to go ahead and press that "update" button.

And that, folks, is why you include details in app descriptions, to encourage downloads.