Sunday, 2 February 2014

Samsung Delivers a Pile of Failure in Their Olympic App

Onboarding experience

What Samsung has done with their first-time experience is stunning. To me this is by far the worst what I've seen. I'd be very interested to see analytics from their system about user dropoff rate in the first couple of screens.

It is worth remembering that the your app's user experience starts from the Play Store. Be careful not to leave in permissions that not actually needed in your app. Why does this app need to disable my lock screen? Scary.

Once you get the surprisingly large 30MB app installed to your device you're ready to embark to to most remarkable journey to try to get to the actual content.

When you first launch the app you're greeted with a popup reminding you that when you use data it might cost you. If that wasn't stupid enough look at the options provided to you in the popup. "Do not remind" and "OK". I wonder if they mean "Do not remind me again" or "Damnit! Don't remind me. I don't want to know!". If I select OK does it mean that they keep reminding me that my data might not be free every time I open the app? Ridiculous. I bet this was put here by Samsung's legal department.

Once you figure out which one of these ridiculous buttons you want to press you'll see a gift from the Samsungs software engineering department. A splash screen with a loading indicator. I refuse to believe that they don't have any content or app structure to show without "Updating data: DB". But hey, at least we get to see the debug messages showing which data it is loading.

When the "Updating data: DB" is ready you're certainly going to see some content and be able to figure out if you want to use the app or not. Well.. not so fast.

First you need to tell the app which Language you'd like to use. I don't know in which usage scenario this makes any sense but I'm certain that Samsung's engineering team must have a great UML chart explaining why this is needed.

User already selected the language when they setup their phone. Apps never have to ask language form users. Never! Worth noting, by the way, the app's language selection doesn't even default to your phone's language setting. It always defaults to English.

Once you figure out which language you'd like to use you're presented the feared T&C screen that every legal department on the planet loves so dearly. Fortunately Samsung hasn't even tested reading their legal text as when you open one the screen's scrolling mechanism breaks. But that's not a big loss. Nobody ever reads T&C anyways.

But surely we are now done. Right? Well.. No.

We now need to tell the app which country we like. While it could probably at least guess the country where I'm in right now (it uses location permissions) it chooses to default to the language setting of your phone (you know, the one they could  have used for the language selection). But then again, personalised data in the app based on my favourite country, athlete and sport. That's great!

I think a better way to do this would be to default to your country and your country's most popular sport and let the user easily change them but I can't really blame Samsung going this route. That is if they'd done the actual selection screens well. I know that Samsung has been a big fan of Apple for a long time but I'd still keep Apple's search screens out of Android.

Now that you've found your country and other info needed you're set to go, right? Must be... Nope.

This one is so bad that it made me laugh when I saw it. "Need to update spp client" Go google market! Go!

Firstly, some level of spelling checking would probably make sense. I'm not a native English speaker either and I bet that I have more than my fair share of broken English on this site but I'm not a multi-billion dollar corporation. Secondly, what the hell is "spp client"? Am I supposed to know that?

At least pressing the "OK" takes me to the Google Play Store to install some more Samsung crap to my phone. Go google market, go!

Once you install the additional Samsung push services you'll finally be able to use the app.

Rest of the app

Unfortunately, rest of the app follows pretty much the same path as the onboarding experience. It is riddled with very bad design decisions and poor implementation. It sometimes uses action bar items to navigate between screens, tabs are never swipeable and some screens are locked to portrait while others are locked to landscape. 

Christophe Versieux compiled a list of usability issues found in the app (I left out the points I already mentioned above):
  • Still an iOS 2D launcher icon, square with rounded border, not following the slight 3D and silhouette pattern we are used to an Android
  • iOS 7 design (icons, colors)
  • Ads at the bottom that lead to Samsung US website 
  • Use right-pointing carets on line items
  • ActionBar looks bigger, separators are ugly and even displayed when only one item
  • Non scrollable tabs
  • Settings screen (sounds obvious)
  • On the Map they even used the iOS pin!
  • Toast when trying to exit the app
  • Navigation drawer is the sliding menu

You can find the app from Google Play for free at: