It’s the most repeated form of advertising for software, whether it’s presented as a cloud based application, an “app”, or regular software:
You show a laptop screen, tablet screen and smartphone screen, all with the same GUI on them. The idea is that you more or less get the same functionality, layout, data presentation, etc., on the mobile version as you do on the fully featured desktop based one.
Sometimes though, this isn’t the case and it’s driving me up the wall.
The tablet version of a financial software package I use for a couple of side businesses and a non-profit I run doesn’t show the main page of the regular application (desktop or browser based), instead the main page is the least useful part of that front page. In fact there is NO way to get the app to show the same financial snapshot as the desktop or browser based versions, thus begging the question:
Why did I download this garbage in the first place?
A CRM application I use for my businesses is great on the desktop via my browser, but the Tablet version (again) doesn’t have the layout show in the ads for it, instead it’s a watered down version that makes you want to just use your laptop instead.
Making matters worse, if I try to pull it up on my Tablet’s browser I’m taking to the same annoying layout as the app. Thus leaving me with an app that’s useful to a degree, but makes you miss the desktop version so much that I’m often inclined not to use it at all.
If I were to pull up the financial software via the desktop app or the browser on my laptop, the first page shows bank balances, trailing 30 days profit/loss, amount of open invoices and pending bills. It’s the information you’d MOST want to see if you’re pulling up the financials on the road with a Tablet.
Instead I’m presented with a page that just shows recent history, I have the ability to take a few actions across certain categories and I have light reporting.
The CRM app is significantly better as it’s actually proved useful on the road, but there is a lot of customer data updating and customization I can’t do. It’s often easier to just write something down and update it when I get back to my laptop.
Knowing that software developers tend to be intelligent I find myself scratching my head at this nonsense.
Didn’t the product development team test or review the tablet apps and think to themselves: “wow, we took out a lot of the usability?”
Didn’t the software development team say: “it’s just a browser based app, there is no reason we can’t deliver this same functionality to our customers on their tablets, especially certain dashboard views that show the key information they need”
I can’t imagine signing off on either app, I would’ve wanted both apps significantly revised so that you’re delivering value to customers and not irritating them.
I look at these apps and I see two companies that aren’t completely serious about their mobile app strategy, and instead want to just “have an app” as a selling point, but they don’t really mean for you to get much use out of it.
Meanwhile, the limiting factor for MS Excel for iPad is the fact that you’re using a device without a keyboard, mouse and an external monitor for more screen real estate, NOT the app itself.
No wonder I use Excel for iPad more than both of the apps I mentioned combined.
Again, this shows the company’s commitment as in many respects MS Excel is used for more complex activities than the apps I mentioned previously.
The above is why I think there is a low signal to noise ratio when it comes to app ecosystems, whether it’s for a platform or an individual company touting its app. Software companies just want to “have an app” so they seem legit, and the companies behind the various app stores/hardware platforms just want to push their app numbers up.
Delivering value to the customer is a secondary concern.
If legit 3rd player is going to emerge to take on the iOS/Android Duopoly I think the key will be having a high signal to noise ratio app wise.
A platform that says: “We set a quality bar for the functionality of our apps so you don’t feel like the victim of bait and switch”, will be sure to win customers in the coming years as at some point, people are going to get fed up with this nonsense.
This is especially true for cloud-based apps. Just think about it: if I have to pay the same license fee regardless of the device, if I use the app on a singular device or multiple devices, there is really no reason for making the tablet version rubbish.
P.S. you’re probably wondering why I didn’t call out the companies specifically, the reason is that I have college friends who work at both companies so I felt bad ripping their employers in public. Plus I have better channels to take my complaints too, so no need flogging them in public.