Why Do Apps Suck?

A company has a nice site or Web-based service. The Web interface is nice. So they say, “Hey, let’s provide an app for mobile devices, so our users don’t have to open a browser to access our service.(and we can have access to more information about them, muhuhuhuhahahaha…)”

They release an app, and…

It sucks.

I don’t mean that it’s just a bit lacking. I mean it’s difficult or nearly impossible to use it at all, and it has only a small subset of the features and capabilities available through a Web browser.

I don’t even think twice about keeping these horrible apps on my device. I delete them IMMEDIATELY.

One of the best examples available is the mobile device app for Microsoft’s OneDrive service. OneDrive, at http://onedrive.microsoft.com, is a very nice online storage platform. 5GB of storage is free. I like it, and use it both for my own personal use as well as the back-end storage for shared files used by the OARS Website, for which I’m the WebMaster. All the icons you see on that site, as well as the current and archived OARS Newsletters, come from OneDrive.

The OneDrive Web interface is pretty sweet. It has just about any feature and function you could want, is easy to navigate, and is just an over-all well designed interface.

The mobile app is unusable. I’m not kidding. It is of absolutely no value except as an example of how to completely fail at mobile app design. Ok, the first thing I check when reviewing any online storage service is “how do I create a folder?”:

In the OneDrive mobile app you simply… Can’t. You can’t do it. It’s impossible. To create a folder, you have to go back to the Web site. Well then, since I have to use the site anyway, I’ll just delete the app. Done, never to be installed again. Actually, nearly all of the online functionality is missing from the app.

But really, this isn’t unique to this one app. There have been so many apps that I’ve had installed on my mobile device for less than 5 minutes before uninstalling them. Companies don’t seem to get it. If the app sucks, people aren’t going to use it or even worse, their frustration with the app will reflect poorly on the Web site and company as a whole. If you want us to use your app, make it at least as functional as your site. Don’t make us lose functionality when we allow the use of OUR resources on OUR mobile device for YOUR crapplication.

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