Review: eBay iPhone Application, Free Download in Apple's App Store

Available as a free download in Apple's App Store, the eBay iPhone application regularly appears in the App Store's Top 50 list. After using eBay's iPhone application for about two weeks and a few auctions, the iPhoneWriter.com team found that the eBay application is a good start with room to improve.

Using the eBay application really couldn't be easier. After installing the application and launching it for the first time, you simply tap the "Sign In" button and enter the login information for your eBay account. The application remembers your information until you tap the "Sign Out" button and there's also a link on the "Sign In" screen, for people who do not already have an account (we couldn't help but wonder how many people without an eBay account would actually download the application?)

Once logged in, a simple Home screen is presented, with options to view the standard auction information for your eBay account. The available options include auctions that the account is Watching, Winning, Won, Outbid, Scheduled, Selling, Sold and Unsold. Tapping an option on the Home screen takes you to a listing of those items, grouped based on being Active/In-Active, or Won/Didn't Win, Sold/Unsold, etc.

In addition to the Home screen, other options within the eBay application include "Search" and "My eBay". As you would expect, tapping the "Search" option brings up a simple search screen. A nice feature eBay included with "Search" is the ability to refine the search results. Tapping the "Refine" button presents options for sorting the results based on Best Match, Price + Shipping, Time Ending and Time Listed.

Tapping the "My eBay" option provides the same options as presented on the Home screen, divided into three main categories; Watching, Buying and Selling. The user toggles between these categories by selecting the appropriate button at the top off the screen. The "My eBay" section provides nothing that the Home screen doesn't already provide, so we're not sure what eBay is thinking here. Perhaps it's more of a placeholder for future improvement? Who knows.

Selecting an item from any particular list (from the Home screen, Search Results, My eBay, etc.) provides a brief description of the item, with options to Watch/Un-Watch and Bid/Buy Now as appropriate. The current bidding price and bidder information are also provided, and users can view the auction item's image by tapping the thumbnail or the detailed item description by tapping the "see item description" option. TIP: "Pinching" the item image or detailed item description provides Zoom In/Zoom Out functionality, and using a single finger let's you scroll around the screen.

In the category of room to improve, when selecting an item you have Won or Sold, there is not an option to leave feedback. This seems like a logical feature and must be an oversight on eBay's part that we hope is corrected in a future update. Additionally, while you can see the feedback number and rating for the Seller of an item, there is not an option to view the actual feedback the Seller has received. When you consider that it is possible to Bid/Buy Now when viewing an item, not being able to review the Seller's feedback seems silly. Another obvious shortcoming is not being able to create a new auction listing or modify existing ones. With the Apple iPhone rapidly becoming the mobile Internet device of choice, this is another feature where the eBay team dropped the ball by not providing.

In addition to the items we just mentioned, there are a few other features missing too. Features like managing your eBay account settings and making payments are items that eBay's iPhone development should include on a feature list for a future release.

Overall, the iPhoneWriter.com team found eBay's iPhone application to be a solid entry in the list of applications available in Apple's App Store and worth the download at twice the price (the application is free.) Basically, the application is a great way for eBay to get the ball rolling on mobile usage of their core resources, i.e. auctions. As other feature-rich contenders enter the space though (and you know other developers are writing similar iPhone applications), eBay shouldn't depend on third parties to include features they've left out, instead dedicating the necessary time and resources to continue improving their own application. Mobile computing is the future of the Internet, and eBay (or anyone else for that matter) would be wise to include all the features they make available via their standard web site available in their mobile applications.

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