by James A. Martin

Most Disappointing Mobile Apps: Spring ’12 Edition

Apr 25, 20123 mins
iPhoneTablets blogger James A. Martin takes a look back at the most disappointing applications he's encountered during the past few months. Thankfully, at least one of them appears to be on the road to redemption.

App developers, I feel your pain. I can only imagine how challenging it is to develop software that truly “wows” today’s increasingly difficult-to-impress consumers.

But I’m still going to contribute to your pain if you deserve it. In that vein, allow me to present my first report on the software that disappointed me the most over the past three months. The following programs, which I reviewed after starting this blog on Feb. 2, 2012, left me frustrated and wanting more—or simply scratching my head.

1. Roxio Toast 11 Titanium

Roxio Toast 11 Titanium is Mac OS software that, among other things, converts TiVo HD recordings into file formats that are compatible with iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and other devices.

Unfortunately, for this purpose, the software ($80 after mail-in rebate) isn’t worth your money or time.

I was psyched about moving TiVo HD recordings to my new Retina-display iPad for high-quality, mobile viewing. But Roxio Toast 11 Titanium requires far too many steps to transfer the recordings. And it limits video resolution to 640 by 480 pixels. The new iPad’s native resolution is 2048 by 1536 pixels, and previous iPads have a 1024 x 768 resolution, so it’s as if Roxio (in cahoots with TiVo) doesn’t want you to enjoy TiVo recordings on an iPad too much. Don’t worry, guys: Mission accomplished.

2. Speaktoit Assistant for iPhone

Speaktoit Assistant ($2) is an app for iOS and Android devices that promises to deliver Siri-like virtual-assistant features. The iTunes description says the latest iOS version of this app (v 0.3) has improved voice recognition. Because the previous version I tested (v 0.2) was such a complete failure in this department, I gave the new version a quick spot check. I asked it three simple questions that I’d asked during my initial review, and Speaktoit Assistant for iPhone came through on every one. I’m happy to report that one of the most disappointing apps of the last three months appears to be on the road to redemption.

Speaktoit Assistant iPhone app

3. Tether

Software utilities that promise to turn your smartphone into a modem or a Wi-Fi hot spot are notoriously buggy. And so, my expectations for Tether, an HTML5 “app,” were low to begin with. Sadly, the software met my expectations.

Tether is an HTML5 site that promises to turn your iPhone into a Wi-Fi hotspot, without a jailbreak or the need to pay for a more expensive tether/hotspot data plan. I’m all over that idea. But despite dozens of attempts, I wasn’t able to get the service to successfully connect either my iMac or my MacBook Air to the Internet. Tether’s tech support took five days to respond to my request for help, and its response didn’t solve the problem. On the bright side, my request for a refund of the $30 annual fee was processed quickly.

Your Candidates?

Tomorrow, I’ll share my favorite apps from the past three months. In the meantime, I’d love to know if you’ve been disappointed by an iOS or Android app recently? If so, please share your story in the comments section.