Bitter Grounds - espresso fueled ramblings

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

App reviews

App review - a wobbly pedometer review

Step and Count pedometer logoSteps Pedometer & Steps Counter Track Walk


Free – not really if you want to use the advertised features.
Developer: ClipInMedia Apps

On the surface, this looks like a pretty decent little pedometer – turn it on, set your step goals and off you go. It counts each step, has a map to track your route and a calorie burning tracker all packaged in a simple, easy to understand layout. However, a number of serious issues make the app a nonstarter.  

I’ll start with the most egregious issue: It’s advertised as a free app.  Yes, it is free, kind of.  If you want to use any of the promised features, like the map or calorie counter, you have to buy the Pro version. Granted, it’s only $2.29 Cdn ($1.99 US), so price isn’t the issue. Nowhere on the store page does the developer mention the app needs upgrades to run correctly.  The store page actually misleads you into thinking the map is part of the off the shelf features.

Screen capture of Pedometer

All the screen captures offered are from the pro version, not the free one. There are no ads running along the bottom of any of the screens, so this is a bit of smoke and mirrors on the part of the developer. App developers need to tell people details like “map functionality does not work with the free version.  Upgrade to the pro version to add the feature”. Normally I’ll test an app in the free version and then go on to purchase any add ons or the full version to compare.  But the lack of real information irritated me enough to take a pass testing the full app, so you’re getting a review of the free version only.

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Win 10 app review – CIBC’s bewilderingly bad offering

CIBC mobile app for Windows 10

App Review   ----   0 /☕☕☕☕☕
Works on:  don’t bother… just don’t bother.

Dear Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce,

What were your app designers smoking that led them produce your “app” for Windows 10? Equally important is the question “wtf?”  I put app in quotation marks because it’s painfully obvious you have not created an app. It’s a glorified bookmark to your webpage. As one person stated in the review section “We know how to open a browser and bookmark a website”.

You see, that’s all your “app” is. It offers nothing. Absolutely NOTHING. No functionality, none of the nifty features in your iPhone or Android apps. No way to take a photo of a cheque and instantly deposit it .... nada damn thing.   What we do get is redirected to your mobile website.  Don't get me wrong, you mobile website is very good, but it isn't an app.  Where is the instant deposit feature you push so hard? That is a terrific feature but Windows users aren't allowed to use it.  And don't get me started on your mobile payment app. Unless you have a Blackberry or Android, forget it.  And come to think about it, you offer it on Blackberry and not iPhones? Seriously CIBC? Now that's funny.

What kills me is the tag line "Innovation at your fingertips: CIBC Mobile Banking®" on your website. There is nothing innovative about redirecting people to your webpage. The introduction of Win10 was not a mystery. You knew it was coming. It's been out for nearly a year now and yet you can't produce a real app. 

Yea, you deserve 0 out of 5 for this offering.

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App reviews for Windows – V-Browser for Surface Tablets

Alternate browsers for Surface Tablets - V-Browser by Epic Apps App Review   ----   ☕☕ /☕☕☕☕☕

I’m always looking for alternative browsers for my Surface RT tablet. Pretty much everything available is rather sad and more glitchy than IE. V-Browser by EpicApps had a bit of promise but the flaws far outweigh the benefits.

Good: It’s pretty peppy. It loads pages quickly. Videos stream seamlessly. Whipping between websites was very efficient. I was impressed with how fast pages popped up. A real bonus is it's relative light weight -  weighing in under 3 megs – so it doesn’t take up a lot of valuable harddrive space.

Bad: No add-ons or extensions. To make it worse, there is no way to bookmark sites. It does claim to have a Speed Dial that you can add sites to, but after 2 weeks, I could never get it to work.

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Avast Win10 app review - still trying to find it’s purpose

Avast antivirus iconApp Review   ----   ☕☕ /☕☕☕☕☕
Works on: Win desktop/ Surface / tablet / Windows phone

Avast Antivirus Windows store page

Every once in awhile I see an app that puzzles me. Avast antivirus app for Windows 10 is one. It doesn’t really do anything except … well … nothing.  After writing the first draft of this review, I realised my real frustration stems from the fact I expected so much more from the company. They offer great antivirus protection and that isn’t reflected in their offering.

Avast vastly over estimates peoples’ ability to understand how antivirus programs work and assumed everyone would get that the offering is not protection of any sort. They are overly optimistic that people would carefully read their store page.  The unwary out there have mistakenly believed they’ve installed antivirus protection. The way the store page is setup is unintentionally vague. The app never says “This is NOT antivirus protection". Turns out a surprising number of people don’t really get how things like antivirus programs work. Throw in the new concept of apps for Windows and you have a mix ready for misunderstandings.  So as a result, the app is being installed as a replacement for the actual program.

After talking to a few customers, I had to disabuse them of the notion they had downloaded a new antivirus program so they’ll be safe.  These aren’t dumb people by any stretch of the imagination. They see them tools, nothing more. Their eyes glaze over when I’m explaining the ins and outs of protection. This, coupled with the ambiguous store page, has led to confusion about the apps purpose.

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App Reviews – defining the good, the bad and the downright unuseable

App Review bannerWhen I’m testing an app, a list of things run through my mind, ranging from “does it work” to “would I recommend it”. In the early days of Windows Store (back in the dark days of Windows 8), the platform was a mess – the land of crap apps and rip off artists and I rarely looked at the apps seriously. Many talented, independent developers likely took one look at the nightmare and took off. The store lagged for a long time, even after the clean-up. I’m happy to report I I’ve noticed a serious uptick in the quality and diversity of apps offered in the last 6 or 7 months.

So what is my App Tick List?

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#@!% app. Why isn't it working?

- Catpaw, 2016

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