Features & Use
There are supposed to be quite a few folks out there that buy and sell tons of random stuff on eBay. Personally, I use eBay only occasionally, but I really like the concept behind it. Unfortunately, I’ve also had a fair share of bad experiences with buyers not paying for the stuff they bid on. Even if you have to be careful and aware when using eBay, it still gives you the opportunity to get your hands on great bargains and auctions or make some money from all those knickknacks lying around the house.
That’s why I got interested in the official Android app. It saddened me to see that app was a bit disappointing from the very start. After installing the apps and accepting the terms and conditions, you start off at the main menu. Although you can use the app without an eBay account, it really only makes sense to use the app when you’re logged in. Without an eBay account, you can only look through the daily deals.
The search feature is really well done (if you have the Android speech-to-text feature installed you can use voice commands to search through eBay directly from the main menu). Alternatively, you can manually enter a term into the search field. You can refine your search according to buying format (auction, buy it now, store inventory), category and distance.
All the deals are clearly presented (including a picture, description, item number and auction time remaining) in scrollable format. With one click you can open up any item to get more details and information.
More importantly, you can access the most important functions directly from the app: bid, refresh, watch, seller details and share. The last feature let’s you share an item only via email or Bluetooth. Adding at least a Facebook share feature would make a lot of sense in my opinion if people want to draw attention to their auction.
Here’s another thing that irritated me. Android is supposed to be a multi-tasking platform, but that seems to have gotten completely ignored in the making of the eBay app. If you have a list of deals in from of you and happen to close the app, you start all over again from the main menu when you open it up next time (even if you didn’t actually kill the app). Although your searches get saved, you’ll have search for the same thing again and scroll through the list to find what you were looking for. That’s really annoying!
So as I said, it only makes sense to use things app with an eBay account. This let’s you actively participate (i.e. bid), read your eBay messages and manage your account. Unfortunately, both functions weren’t very well designed! Not all of your eBay messages are displayed, for example. Apparently, the app only shows messages from the past three months. OK, so three months is a big chunk of time nowadays, but why didn’t they just include everything in your inbox? I just don’t get it. Same thing goes for your account history – everything is limited to the past three months: bidding, selling, watching, sold, won, didn’t win, unsold, scheduled
At least watching items with the app works without any problems and can be done directly from the main menu.
Active eBay users will be disappointed, however. The app doesn’t let you place items on eBay! Obviously, most people prefer to do these things on a computer, but why not include it as an additional feature, especially for relatively cheap and small items? Imagine: snap a picture, write up a description and specify available payment and shipment methods. That could be done quickly and efficiently on the go.
In the settings, you can turn on auction notifications and specify your preferred eBay site (USA, UK, Canada & Australia). And that’s all there is folks!
The app is really useful to search for eBay deals from your phone. Although you can do so using your phone’s browser, the app makes things simpler and more efficient. Watching items and following bids is made easy with status bar notifications. It would be nice to see them include more features from the eBay website to the Official eBay Android App.
Screen & Controls
On the upside, the Official eBay Android App is really easy to use. The design could use some improvement, however, but it’s anything dramatic. The fact that all the functions are listed at the bottom of the page following the item is a bit annoying. Making the design a bit more animated and interactive would give this app a bit more class.
Speed & Stability
No crashed or forced closures. It did take longer than necessary to load item pictures and details with the Official eBay Android App.
The Official eBay Android App is available ad-free and at no charge from the Market. Since eBay is still about making money and given the lack of some key features, i can only give 4 stars here.