Since my dot.com days (as CTO and co-founder of a B2B ecommerce enabler company delivering Japanese transactional capabilities for US retailers) I can't recall seeing as many painfully beta stage (aka rubbish) solutions pushed onto the marketplace.
Let's start with an obvious disaster: Apple's own Maps solution. This led me severely astray the other day as I was going to Georgia Tech's Hotel & Conference Center in Atlanta. The meeting invite only provided the name, which I copied and pasted into my iPhone's Map application. The iPhone quickly came up with the image and location below (which I admittedly followed unquestioningly) to the completely wrong location! Half an hour of driving time off, to be exact. This to a location that is solidly associated with technology – ironic.
Enough Apple-bashing. If it were enough with their rushed map product launch, it wouldn't be so bad. Sadly, I have a hard time coming up with more than a few solid productivity implementations for the iOS platform. Here are some examples of bad, terrible, and a few good ones:
Fly Delta – lacks profile management and other capabilities and is frequently offline when flight updates are needed. The regular Delta website in turn lacks cookie management control – steering me over to the mobility format in Japanese at every turn, even though I set my profile to USA and English.
LinkedIn – laughably dysfunctional. So is the online interface, which refuses to stay in desktop mode, constantly pushing visitors into the mobility view which is just as useless as the iOS app.
Evernote – now here is a great app! The PC desktop version, the iOS versions for the iPhone as well as the iPad are all outstanding, passing documents seamlessly between the platforms. A big A+
Netflix – feature crippling between platforms. No "recently viewed" feature, no leverage of metadata (i.e. if you like actor X, he's also in these films) on the iPhone but it is available on the Apple TV version.
Fusionops – only for the iPad. Great iOS application (for SAP reporting) that we have written about on Spend Matters PRO – this leverages the mobile UI and touch interface without feeling stunted
Successfactors – an SAP division – has several different iOS solutions that (just like Fusionops) feel fresh and leverage the unique aspects of the touch experience without making users feel like they are getting shortchanged
I can excuse weak corporate iOS apps – after all, many seem to be inspired more by marketing departments jumping on the bandwagon, rather than on serious efforts. That said, and the following applies to all solution providers out there – please rein in the mobility version of your website!
Design your solution so that there is a clear path away from a crippled mobility interface – users on the iPhone, and especially the high-resolution iPad have little to no need for a "mobile" interface. In these election days – take a look at Gallup.com for an example of what not to do. There is no way to escape the crippled mobile version!
Yes, you can hack/crack your IOs device, and you can install third-party browsers that permit "faking" the browser version to get to the real website – but why do companies spend time and money on developing substandard website versions and mobility apps that only leave users frustrated?
This has to change. Going forward, I think I'll conduct a test of the corporate website of all solution providers whose apps we test and I will mock those who treat iOS users as second class citizens. You have been warned!