Friday, 12 December 2008

I'm trying to like Rummble, I really am

Rummble has real potential to be a mobile location service I would use. The promise of being able to:

  1. find out what's good where I am right know
  2. add my own views and contribute to the knowledge map

is a tantalising proposition. With Rummble, unfortunately, it still remains just that.

To really succeed, a service like this has to operate from my mobile. If I've got something to say about somewhere, I'm far more likely to be there rather than in front of my PC. I'll be still queueing because I'm in the middle of a bad service experience or (just finished) enjoying whatever I want to share with the world so they can experience it too.

Enter the Rummble iPhone App, perfect device for this. GPS built in, advanced user interface capabilities, fantastic connectivity. Problem is the Rummble app has taken advantage of the first two and assumed the last one.

If you build a mobile app, you can't assume it will be connected to the internet

I've tried a number of times to Rummble on the move now and it's just painful. For a start the start screen takes an age to load, even on my work WiFi connection it's ponderous. Immediately barriers are preventing me from expanding the network of knowledge.

Trying to add a Rummble when you haven't got 5 bars worth of 3G coverage is a joke and has resulted in a number of app crashes. What's really cute is how the app doesn't remember anything you've typed in so you have to go through the whole painful process again. Probably fair to point out that this hasn't crashed on me since the latest update.

I'm in danger of this turning into a rant and that wouldn't be fair at this stage. I've developed enough apps in my time to understand the issues and I'm also a big believer in the concept. There is still time for Rummble to rethink their mobile app architecture.

I believe mobile apps should be built from the ground-up to be able to operate without network coverage. Especially if they're capturing data. Work from that base and make the app synchronise when the connectivity is available.

The key thing Rummble needs is data, it needs to get enough reviews in enough places that I visit to be useful to me. It must allow users to enter these into the app without connectivity. Even if that means creating stubs that I then need to complete when I'm next online, either with the app or on the website.

The really valuable information is in my head right now, allow me to write a comment quickly, get it off my chest. If I can complete the review there and then marvellous, but don't deny me just because my mobile network isn't giving me the coverage the app needs.

I wish Rummble every success, it would be great for a UK company to succeed in this space.

1 comment:

The official Rummble blog said...

Thanks for your comments Adam; many of which are valid. Some news I can give you is that a version with UK (and some US) local data has been posted to Apple for approval today, which means if you have no "trusted" content you'll atleast get useful info about what is around you.

Secondly, the issue of data connectivity is also a valid one. We're looking at redoing the XML protocol we use into JSON which may help on weight, but we also intend to implement online and more local caching, which will also help the situation considerable. I fear we're a couple of years atleast away from reliable mobile data connectivity; a problem which we have the MNOs to thank for.