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This post is by +Juhani Lehtimäki 

It is time to publicly shame an app. There are two reason why I'm writing this. Firstly, this app is from a large publishing company that should understand the importance of presentation. Secondly, this app is featured on Google Play. In fact it has been featured on the Play Store already over a month! If apps like these keep getting featured what hope is there for any improvement in general quality of the app selection? Developers who work hard to create great apps that follow the guidelines are discouraged by allowing apps like this to be featured on the store. This situation needs to change!

The app is Spiegel Online: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=de.spiegel.android.app.spon

I also used this app as a bad example when I talked about tabs in my blog some time ago: http://www.androiduipatterns.com/2012/08/tips-for-android-tabs.html

I think this app does everything wrong that is possible to do wrong. See the attached images for details.
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19 comments
 
All the anti-patterns you can get with a bad hybrid HTML/native app.
 
This is really a very bad app of a German magazine (one of the biggest over here, at that). Alas, the average rating is nonetheless 4.1.

Nevertheless there is no reason to feature it. It's bad for users, it's bad for developers, sets a bad example and undermindes the efforts undertaken by Google's Android design team and Google's developer advocates Design in Action series.

The play store editorial team has to do a better job!

cc: +Nick Butcher +Marie Schweiz 
 
I'm asking myself why is this app featured? I thought you have to follow the official guidelines to get your app featured. But in this case its only the number of downloads. Every crappy app with millions of downloads gets featured. Its a shame :-(
 
+Wolfram Rittmeyer Yeah, the 4.1 raring baffles me. My guess is that before Android 4.0+ is the dominant platform version users are not going to react that strongly to bad UX as the platform itself isn't very good and well defined. I do think that users are starting to notice but ratings on apps like this are going to take time before we see change in the average. The app has 5000 ratings and most of them are probably from year ago or so.
 
As Kevin Gaudin said, the main reason for this disaster is the cross platform framework they are using. The app behaves and looks the same on both Android and iPhone. There are many apps in the google store that look and behave like iPhone apps. But the really stupid thing about the Spiegel App, even on the iPhone the App behaves incorrectly though it looks like a native iPhone app. 
 
As an Indie developer, I have to work really hard (implement all recommendations, polish the app, study guidelines etc.) but I must have huge luck to even get a chance to be noticed by the play store editorial team to consider my apps to be featured.

And..., they feature an app like this one! It's definitely not a fair competition between indie developers and big companies with the right connections. It's becoming discouraging.
 
Shame indeed! But then, the question is this: Is UI design the only department in which apps featured on Play Store are inadequate?

In other words, do all the apps that make it to the Featured Tab:

1) Play fair with the permissions they request?
2) Even explain why they need all the permissions they request?
3) Take adequate care so as to not drain the battery?
4) Use the network judiciously?
5) Use AccountManager where possible?
6) Display ads in a non-intrusive manner (for example - avoid showing the damned ads in the Notification area for Gods sake!)?
...
...

You get the point. The Play Store editorial team seriously needs to get its act together.
 
I think the way featuring is done has nothing to do with the design actually.

At my company, we had to develop a new version of an already existing app that didn't follow the design guidelines.
The application has a huge market in Europe and Google needs this kind of app to be great and featured.

Near the end of the development, our client send a preview of the app to a contact at Google which deals notably with the featuring on Play Store, asking for advice and possibly a featuring of the application. We got our feedback and we take 2 more weeks to finish the application before publication.

And Google features the old application just after the feedbacks where sent. And the featuring stops when the new version is published...



That's really odd not at all good for the Play Store as users which don't know the application won't want the old version and consequently won't know about the new version if it's not featured... 
 
to be fair. Spiegel online is maybe not the writer. They have (maybe) a service they provide "apps" thats all. I guess it is a multiplatform framework. I can't see another reason why somebody is sooo stupid.

the good ratings: a good iOS app is a good app. The iOS usecases are not stupid and since we have a back button at the top it is difficult to know what is iOS and what is android. I know the difference exactly. And it is a huge difference.

why change?

performance, up and down scaling for tablets, the tablet future. Native android design is stronger and better and very beautiful on many devices if you can design it. Down compatibility is also possible.

my recommendation for +SPIEGEL ONLINE is to change it because it's cheaper and the ratings are 5 stars, not 4. and you can provide very easy with a little bit intellegent layout a beautiful android tablet app. Yes i know in hamburg everyone have an Ipad but Hamburg is small. and at least, its a shame.

it's a good example to tell the american colleagues why i have to leave germany. Up to date mobile business is not possible. they are any time 2 years late.

annoying.
 
+Kiran Rao Good points. I guess any app should only be featured if it follows Google's advice. No matter which aspects - or at least has some very good explanations in their app description if they deviate.
 
I think it will be good to create like a wall of shame, in the same way some sites feature the apps of the week, we could have the crapps of the week, and it should target specially popular apps. If it becomes famous, developer will be encourage to not be there.
 
+Gabriel Guerrero Thats basically what this page is for. :-)

We try to stick to popular and featured apps, and keep a positive tone throughout (if possible). Feel free to recommend some offenders.
 
+Paul Burke Cool :), what do you think about Moxier Mail and Exchange TouchDown , stopped using those apps maybe like 1 year ago, the work fine but the terrible UI put me away (I use now my stock Mail client in the G Note), I checked the page in the play store and look the same as when I stopped using them
 
Obvious case of an iPhone owner and developer being told by his bosses to write an Android app, and then doing so only out of being required to.

It seems all too common that companies think it is okay to have their iPhone development team handle making their Android app. It typically doesn't go the other way because iPhone has been around longer, typically.

This is an extraordinarily bad example, but the market is full of them.

Unfortunately, as well, even top tier apps fall victim to developers who believe their UI vision is better than Android's. For example, Swype. They FINALLY allowed themes in the newest version. Do any of the themes actually FIT with either GB or Holo designs? Nope. It still sticks out like a sore thumb because Swype insists on using old-fashioned "bubble" icons for the keys.
 
+Alvin Brinson 
Agreed!
Also, some stubborn clients want their app to look exactly the same on both Android and iPhone. Even though the developers repeatedly explain that Android and iOS have different UI designs. And that mimicking other platform UI designs is a very bad idea.
But, what can you do other than declining their projects. So, the developers, tired of having their advices ignored by the clients and not wanting to lost revenue, will just do it.
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