If you follow any of my babbling, you probably already know that I’m in the mobile industry. Currently, I’m helping brands and businesses develop their mobile and social media strategies.
When I meet with potential clients and prospects, I’m constantly being asked about which apps I think are good examples for them to take a look at. Every so often, I’m also asked my opinion about apps developed by other companies.
Recently, when I was pitching my company to develop an app for a newspaper publisher, I was asked about a particular app that they had decided to utilize: the Saxotech Saxoviewer. So I took Saxotech’s Saxoviewer for a test drive.
I’ve played with their app for almost two weeks, so I feel that I have a good understanding of it.
First, the good:
1. Nice clean looking interface. The splash page is great for branding, and replaced with the client’s logos or icons, is very impactful.
2. Good use of space. The three (3) column layout, with the two (2) sidebars and main feature center column, is an effective use of space, and definitely drives the eyes to the content that you want (presumably what’s in the center column).
3. Excellent use of embed video. The ‘Video of the week’ in the left sidebar is a good use of video if your brand has video content or is interested in offering video to your demographic/readership. The player loads fairly quickly, and depending upon the engine, can really enhance the overall utility of the app.
4. Comprehensive menu capable of being accessed in multiple ways. The list icon (Change sections button) in the bottom left corner (which identifies which page you’re looking at) and the stacked pages icon (Article overview button) on the bottom right (next to the back arrow) allow a user to see the contents of the app in both list and ‘cover flow’-style layout. The second option is cool because it allows you to navigate through and preview additional pages without having to navigate away from the page you’re currently viewing.
5. Instructions are excellent. In the bottom right corner is an ‘i’ icon (This Info button), which pulls up the instructions on how to use the Saxoviewer. It’s simple to understand and provides comprehensive information on how to use the app.
Next, the bad:
1. Takes forever to load. Each time the app was opened, it took an inordinate amount of time to get passed the splash page into the app itself.
2. Fails to maintain a connection to wifi. Whenever the iPad went to sleep, was turned off or if I navigated away from the app, whenever I returned to the app, I received a warning message advising that I was no longer connected to a network, despite the fact that I was.
More importantly, this message would repeat itself over and over again (at one point over 20 times) despite being clicked or acknowledged, and in spite of the fact that I was still connected to a wifi network. I experienced this issue every time I interacted with the app (over 10 times in a two week period).
3. The app crashed several times while I was using it. This was especially the case when I relaunched from sleep. It also crashed twice when I attempted to load the ‘video of the week.’
4. Buttons don’t always respond to touch. In several instances, I had to tap an icon repeatedly before the underlying function was activated. I noted this primarily with the Change Sections button in the bottom left corner, but the Article overview button did this also.
5. The featured content ‘floats’ over the ad window. In the top of the center column, is the feature window, which cycles through the featured content. Instead of being isolated in the center column, and the information loading from that area, subsequent content floats over the ‘Bernard Matthews’ ad (in the right column) before loading the feature window.
6. Preview text, article titles cut off. In several places, it appears that pictures are actually obscuring text.
7. Broken characters. Several articles had nonsense characters in the place of text.
Now, in all fairness to Saxotech (and for full disclosure), I work for an application development company, so I’m definitely more critical than your average Joe.
Saxotech, if you’re reading this – check your app.