Mobile Apps: An Evaluation


There’s nothing worse than waiting in line at the grocery store forever, or sitting in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, or getting stuck at a railroad crossing for what feels like 15 minutes, with nothing to do. If you’re like me, boredom is one of the worst feelings in the world. I get antsy, I start bursting at the seams, and I need something to keep myself busy.

So, I say TGFMA: Thank God for Mobile Apps.

If there’s a free moment and I’m stuck in one place for too long, you’d be hard pressed to find me without my phone in my hand. From Angry Birds, to Facebook, I’m usually surfing the mobile app world as I wait to get moving again. Sure, I love my social networks, and I love a few cell phone games (though, not many since they drain my battery faster), but I also like staying connected to the news and my interests as well.

That’s why two of my favorite apps are CNN and Flixster. For me, being able to stay up-to-date on today’s headlines and entertainment news is a must. I like to know what’s going on in the world, but I also have a nasty habit of wanting to know what good movies are coming out, what audiences and critics think of them, and what I should spend my hard-earned money going to the theatres to see.

Rarely do I use the CNN app for my cell phone, mostly because despite having a big screen I prefer to read on a bigger surface. So, typically when I’m getting my daily dose of today’s headlines, I’m on my iPad. The CNN app for iPad is a massive full screen application with thumbnails of the most popular stories of the day front and center. Of course, you can use the tabs at the top to switch to Featured or Video, or even watch CNN TV live, but I like the quick and easy nature of the Top Stories page. Scroll and scroll until your heart’s desire, or until you’ve gotten bored, as headlines whiz by right before your eyes. It’s fast, it’s efficient, and it keeps me posted on everything that’s happened recently.

The CNN app is about as social as you might expect a news application to be. There’s no link for a comments section like you might find online, but it’s easy to share the content you find to Facebook or Twitter with just a click of a button. The app is clearly made for the general public for how simple it is to use and how attractive the landing page is. It’s like carrying the web site with all the breaking news right in your pocket (or your purse if you have prefer). Because it’s for the general public who live in a digital world, there’s no point in charging for the app because — let’s face it — most people these days can get their news for free somewhere else if CNN won’t cough it up. It’s easy these days to get the news you want without a price, and CNN clearly doesn’t mind coughing it up for free.

The news I want, however, is not always today’s headlines. Sometimes, I like to know what the best movie in theatres is as the moment, or what critics thought of an upcoming release that I’ve been eagerly anticipating (Paranormal Activity 3, anyone?). That’s what I love about Flixster; you log on, you check the different tabs, you get the answers you want with just a touch of your screen. Right away, you not only know what critics thought of a film, you even know what the vast majority of audience thought of it as well (or, if it’s not released yet, how many people are anticipating it). From Flixster, you can find the Rotten Tomatoes rating, the movie stars, the nearest showing times, the trailer — anything you want right in the palm of your hand.

The best part about Flixster is the ability to use it socially. Connecting it to your Facebook gives you the opportunity to rate a film, read critic reviews right from the app, or see other user reviews as well. You also have the ability to connect to Netflix (which I haven’t done), create a list of anticipated movies, and find a list of movies you’ve already rated. You can also look at recent ratings from your Facebook friends to see what they’re saying about movies as well. Does Michael like Reel Steel? Has Megan seen Footloose? We are more influenced by the opinions of our friends than the advertisements placed in front of us, according to research. If you’re a movie buff and you want to see what’s worth seeing in theatres this weekend (or if you’re a movie connoisseur and you want to tell your friends what’s worth seeing), I recommend downloading Flixster. It’s free, it’s fun, and their connection with Rotten Tomatoes makes for a great movie reviewing experience.

Those are two of my favorite mobile apps. What are some of yours? Do you find most mobile apps are social, or pretty solo? Sound off in the comments!

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