Features & Use
Based on the description, OwnStuff can automatically identify the items you know via barcode scanner and then share your friends. Sounds good, but how does it actually work?
First off, you're greeted with a main menu where you have three options: login with your Facebook, create a standalone OwnStuff account or try out the app without an account.
Since I'm always down to try out new things, I decided to register with OwnStuff and create my own account. But after typing in my email address and password, the app spit out an error message with “401 Authorization Required”. I tried over and over again with different email addresses on 4 different Android devices – to no avail. The app just refused to create an account for me with no further explanation. That's when I realized that there was something serious wrong with OwnStuff.
OwnStuff left me no option, but to try and register with them via Facebook. Thankfully, at least this option worked perfectly and, after checking off all of the permissions, I could finally start using OwnStuff.
In OwnStuff, you can create your own lists of stuff. You start off with a default My Stuff category, but can add as many other lists as you like.
To start adding items to your list, just click on the Scan Now! Button which will redirect you to SCANDIT-powered barcode reader.
At least the barcode reader works pretty well and is more than reliable. You know the drill: just align the barcode with the box on the screen and let the scanner do the magic. If for some reason, the barcode scanner fails to recognize the barcode (i.e not enough light, worn off barcode, rounded surface) you can enter it in manually via keypad.
Once an item is successfully recognized, it is automatically placed in your list along with a picture and description. You edit the name of an item if the automatically-generated label is too long or simply inaccurate.
So after you've added all the items you like to your list (assuming that everything you own has a barcode), the second step should be to start sharing this information with others. Since creating an OwnStuff account wasn't an option, I decided to see how I could post my items to my Facebook wall.
And, boy, was I surprised when I just couldn't for the life of me figure out how to do so. A share or post button was nowhere to be found. I opened the Settings (which by the way contain zero useful information), I long-tapped every freakin' button on the screen and – absolutely nothing!
So there we have it: OwnStuff's key interactive sharing feature simply doesn't work. Having reached the end of my rope, I went to the developer's page to look for solutions.
From there I was able to long onto my Facebook account, open up the OwnStuff app and – hallelujah – I finally found a way to post my OwnStuff items to my Facebook wall.
When you add an item to your list via the Facebook app, you tick off a checkmark to have it posted it on your wall. From the OwnStuff Facebook app, you can also invite people to join the service and share your items with others. In short, all the things that the Android app was supposed to actually do!
OwnStuff is an example of an app that has a cool concept, but has failed to make the actual thing work. You may have all the greatest ideas in the world, but at the end of the day you have to have a product that works and fits its own description. OwnStuff's developers promise an easy and simple way to share your items with friends, but what you end up getting is a half-baked app that's so raw and buggy that's it's seriously painful to use.
I don't want to simply write these guys because there's definitely potential. OwnStuff could be a cool cloud service if it only managed to create a solid Android app that worked perfectly in tandem with Facebook and other social networks. Right now the only thing that actually works is the barcode scanning. So my suggestion to the developers: fix the bugs, improve the app and come out with a usable update as soon as possible!
Screen & Controls
You have to give OwnStuff credit that it makes a pretty good first impression. Judging from the design, the app looks professional and sleek. Everything from the font to the button size is well-organized and tasteful. It doesn't take a long time to figure your way around the app. At least in this category, the app holds true to the developers motto: it's definitely a very simple and user-friendly layout. There are several important buttons that are missing (like a Facebook share button, for instance), but these can be fitted into the existing layout without destroying the general look of the app.
Speed & Stability
As far as the app speed is concerned, OwnStuff is normally pretty fast. But the game speed is overshadowed by a much bigger stability issue: the app crashed on a regular basis on all four test devices. In one instance, I experienced two unexpected force closures in a row for apparently no reason at all. As much as I tried to figure out what would trigger the app to crash, I couldn't find a pattern. In any case, the app can hardly be called reliable given the high amount of crashes.
OwnStuff can be downloaded for free from the Android Market. But what's the point of a free app if it doesn't really work?