why miso is the most disappointing app i own

It seems as though the universe is finding ways to ask me about my favourite iPhone apps lately. Local social media maven and Twitter buddy Prakky wrote a post on her blog earlier this month about apps she likes... and I went to an information session at work last week talking about productive or useful apps.

And while I do have a number of apps I tend to recommend to people who have just joined The Big Shiny Fruit Cult, I don't know that any of them could be classed as "my favourite".

Favourite in which genre?

Favourite game? Probably a tie between Fruit Ninja and all the different variations of Angry Birds. Favourite at getting me laid? Grindr all the way baby. Favourite photo based app? Instagram... at least I can still interact with it during the (increasingly frequent) times when my iPhone camera doesn't work. Favourite utilitarian app? Pocket Weather (it's the app I recommend straight away to everyone with an iPhone... the in built weather app is next to useless) and ShopShop (useful shopping list app). Favourite app for travelling? Trip Case.

And I'm kind of warming to Flipboard on the iPad too (at least while I have the one on loan from work)... not as a replacement for Google Reader, Twitter or Instagram, but it sure is pretty.

However, all this talk of apps I like made me start thinking about an app that used to be right at the top of my "awesome" list, but has progressively slid all the way down until it's sitting in the "only use it when you have to" list.

miso main screenAnd that app is Miso.

It's sad, really... I've been a fan of Miso since I first saw it featured on Mashable last year, and as of this weekend I've checked into 1000 different shows.

For anyone who doesn't know, Miso is like Foursquare for teevee and movies... but instead of checking into locations while you're there, you check into the movies and shows that you're watching. It can be a little addictive, there was a time when I was checking into every single teevee show I was watching, but I quickly realised that my Twitter feed was becoming a Miso spamfest in the evenings so now I only check into movies and the occasional teevee show.

I'm not saying that I've stopped using Miso. Thankfully they have a very functional web interface, so I use that to check in, add new episodes (I'm all about adding new Good Game and Good Game: Spawn Point episodes), update or add movie posters, that kind of thing. But I don't use the mobile app unless I absolutely have to.

Thanks to a series of "creeping featuritis" updates, Miso has turned into a fat lurking bloatware toad, which annoys me every time I have to use it.

The main issues are:

miso check-inThe speed of loading the app
You used to be able to open the app, flick straight to the search, tap in a keyword and you were away. Now it can take upwards of 30 seconds to load the app, even on WiFi.

Crashing
As I haven't used the app in a while I've only just noticed this, but while researching this post I've had the app crash on me a bunch of times during the loading process. If fact it took me three tries to get into the app just now, and every time I leave the app alone and come back to it, it crashes at least once.

The search algorithm
Almost every search, whether it's on mobile devices or the web, has the ability to "guess" what you're searching for based on what you've typed in. Even if you type "futurema", Google knows that what you're most likely looking for is "Futurama" and provides results for that. Miso doesn't do that, so people end up adding multiple versions of a show or movie because it didn't show up in their search due to minor variations.

The check-in process
Previously, when you logged into a specific show, it would show you a list of other people that had already checked in. This was very useful, especially when you didn't know which episode you were watching (happens a lot with Mythbusters, Australia flicks around from new to old episodes... and even the new ones aren't US new). Now you're confronted with an unhelpful screen (see the image above) that tells you the show synopsis (I'm already watching it or about to, why do I need to know that). Sure, the info is under the "Chatter" screen, but I never bothered investigating that before now... and it adds another tap to an already sluggish app.

The main cause of this is that they're moving away from the tag line on their website: "Watch TV. Follow Shows. Earn Points and Badges." This is what the website does exceptionally well and what the app used to do perfectly. Instead they're trying to make TV "social". They're adding "Pick Em" (polls) and a bunch of other features that I haven't investigated because I have no interest in.

Other apps and websites have done this in the past. They come up with a great niche that nobody has really explored, they come up with a great product that does what it says on the box, and then they start adding "features" that take it away from what it was in the beginning rather than improving the things that make it unique.

Essentially, it comes down to the old adage... if it ain't broke, don't fix it... but if it is broke, put it back the way it was.

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