If you were intrigued by all that talk surrounding the iOS app Mailbox, you’ve undoubtedly encountered the companies “virtual” waiting room. If you aren’t, allow me to explain the concept so that you may digest this rant properly. Upon downloading the Mailbox app, which is made by a company called Orchestra, you’re greeted with a screen that asks for a reservation code, if you’re unfortunate enough not to have one, simple click sign up and you’re instantly taken to another screen that shows your number in a virtual waiting room. Underneath your number is another line of people, these are the unlucky souls who are waiting behind you. What’s frustrating, is that you can’t use this app, or even preview it, until you’re number reaches zero, at which point, you’re able to input your Gmail account (as that’s the only mail service it works with) and you’re finally off and running.
So why would any company follow this method when launching an app? Apparently, they’re trying to prevent service interruptions from heavy traffic, to allow those who have the app first to have a smooth experience. Then gradually, they open the flood gates, letting more users in a little at a time. This concept is good, in theory, however, it still failed. Regardless of the developer’s intentions the app suffered interruptions and there were people waiting waiting in line behind a queue of over 800K+ people. It took me over 5 days to get in and after was all said and done… boy, was I disappointed. If you’re still waiting for your invitation, allow me to save you the time… it looks pretty, but is not as fun to use. Stick with Google’s Gmail application, it loads faster, looks nicer and there’s no waiting line.
If Mailbox’s debacle wasn’t enough to frustrate those who were unaware of the “waiting line,” then the new calendar app Tempo, would surely be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Tempo’s a calendar app that features a clean UI and innovative features that CEO Raj Singh says “…Gives people more control over their day by enhancing their calendars in a meaningful way.” This is all great to hear, unfortunately I can’t confirm whether Singh is right or wrong, because I’m still left waiting for my chance to sign up. Unlike with Mailbox, Tempo doesn’t give you a waiting room, you have no number, in fact, you have no idea where you stand or how long it will be until you can even see the app. Once you open the app after downloading it, you’re taken to a screen that asks you to log in with LinkedIn, Facebook or use your email. No matter which option you click, you’re presented with a pop up message that reads: “Connection Failed: Tempo is currently not allowing new accounts to be created at this time. Please try again later.” This has been the case for over 4 days now.
This is unacceptable, if you launch an app on the App Store, then it should be ready to use after it’s done downloading, period. If a company doesn’t have the infrastructure strong or reliable enough to sustain thousands of users, then they’re simply not ready to launch. Putting an app out there, that is incomplete or unable to handle traffic should be tested further and only launch when it has the capabilities to do so. Launching an app, especially one that is talked about on tech news sites all over the web, that presents a message to users that they can use it, is a great way to push them away, possibly forever. I’ve already grown tired of waiting and deleted the app, instead, I downloaded the new Sunrise Calendar, which I find visually appealing, fun to use, FREE and I can use it the second after it’s done downloading.
In no other form of business, is it acceptable to release a product only to say that you [the consumer], after obtaining it, can’t use it. Imagine going into Best Buy, Target or another big box retailer and purchasing a computer, only to get home and have a message pop up on the display, stating that you can’t use this computer yet because the software isn’t ready. It wouldn’t fly there and shouldn’t it on the app store. Apple needs to step in and remove apps that are not fully functional upon release. This type of app launch wastes the time of consumers and if nothing else, is a cruel joke by the developer.
This may be a rant and yes it is my opinion, but I know very well I’m not alone in my thinking. Either way, tell us how you feel, even if you disagree, as I’d love to hear the opinions of folks on the other side.
UPDATE: When I wrote this “rant,” the Tempo app did not have any type of reservation system, but since then, the team has issued an update via the App Store that refreshes the app and allows users to enter their credentials. After following the steps to “reserve” my spot yesterday, I check to see my status today and believe it or not, after 24 hours, I haven’t moved. Not even a single person. The company behind Tempo says that the line should start moving soon, but that they want the experience to be smooth for existing users.
Once again, if an app isn’t ready… oh well, you know the rest by now.