Posts Tagged ‘311’

Why does the iPhone app suck?

November 11th, 2011 iOS app

UPDATE: As @hryx pointed out on Twitter, the app is called but the website is actually isn’t a website. Even the name of the app is an exercise in failure!

Why does the iPhone app suck? We live in a city filled with iOS software developers. Any of them could do a better job than this.

Look, I’m not that picky when it comes to software. But I’m not going to put up with your app if it’s slower than anything I’ve ever seen, buggy as hell, and haphazardly organized.

Let me explain.

Let’s start with those tab buttons at the bottom of the screen. Check the screenshot above.

When you press one of those, you probably think it will switch to the corresponding screen. That’s because you’re not the alcoholic middle school drop out who wrote this app.

No, instead one of the following happens when you press a tab button:

  • It will switch to the screen you pressed.
  • It will switch to the screen you pressed, but there will be a “loading” screen that has a few extra buttons at the top of the screen for a fraction of a second (I couldn’t read fast enough to see what they said.)
  • It won’t switch and will stay at the same screen.
  • Several screens will flash by rapidly, and eventually the screen will turn white and lock up. You’ll have to force quit the app.

You have to hand it to this application, it’s original — no other app has those bugs. iOS app: Services

The most useless tab is “services.” There’s only two options: calling 311, or a search box. The first option is self-explanatory. Strangely they don’t let you fill out a 311 report in the app; that requires a separate app that has completely different bugs.

The little search box gives no indication as to what it does. As you start typing into the box, titles appear below in a list. But you can only see two of them when the keyboard is open. You have to click the Done button to make the keyboard go away. If you skip that step and try to scroll the page, it will take you to the first page in the list. It’s not like you’re kind of busy when you’re using your phone to look up information. No, you have all the time in the world to tinker with UI glitches.

Whatever you click, it takes you to a mobile version of the website. The browser is Safari, but for some reason it’s agonizingly slow. Fortunately there’s an unlabelled button which — as I discovered through trial and error — sends the page to Safari. iOS app: Connect

On the connect tab you can find Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube links for and other city services. Each of these opens in the agonizingly slow version of Safari included in this app. None of this will help you get your car back after it got towed for too many street sweeping tickets, so don’t bother with this section. It’s largely links to irrelevant city press releases.

What’s more interesting is the photo at the top of this section. It seems to depict the last thing someone saw as their eyes closed and they died while waiting in line at City Hall. (Click the image above to see for yourself.)

In case you were wondering, the Updates, Media, and More sections are also just lists of links to websites. Why most/all of these links didn’t belong in “Services” or “Connect” is anyone’s guess. Like all the lists of things in this app, they don’t scroll smoothly but instead jerk around slowly.

Everything in this app suffers from the same basic problem: you shouldn’t get pregnant with your pet ape, give birth to the ape-man-baby out of your ass, buy it a Mac and then teach it programming so it can make an app. That’s just not humane.

Freebies from Muni?

November 16th, 2010

When I wrote the infamous post bitching about Muni service, Worst Day on Muni Ever, I intentionally excluded one detail. Despite partially redeeming Muni, I felt this detail didn’t add much to the story. But more importantly this little detail cost Muni money; I wanted to give them time to fix their mistake before I shared it with the world.

Now let’s go back to the story. As you recall, I eventually wound up on a 30 Stockton. But not for long.

The 30 took off and then suddenly made an unexpected turn onto California St. There was no announcement as to why we had just gone off route.

When I boarded the second 30 Stockton, a very friendly woman started talking to me and my girlfriend. She was just as confused as we were about the unannounced route change.

First, she went and asked the driver what was going on. The driver had no idea. To his credit, the driver remained calm despite being confused, and he made the hairpin turn from Stockton to California without a hitch (it’s not easy; the bus temporarily loses power while going uphill on this transition.)

The woman then called 311 to ask about the route change. From what I overheard from her conversation, they simply could not explain what was going on. This part confirms the point of my original story — if 311 wasn’t informed about the change, how were the passengers supposed to know?

But here’s where things get interesting: after several minutes of explaining her situation to the 311 operator, she told them (what I assume) was her home address.

After getting off the phone she told us that they were sending her a free Muni pass!

Moral of the story: if Muni does something as dumb as making an unannounced route change, complaining about it may get you a free pass.

Moral of the story part 2: if Muni provided better service in the first place, they wouldn’t be giving away free passes. And that would be better for everyone.