Having been available in the US for a few months, eBay released an updated version of its iPad app for international sites recently.
The online auction giant has already been very successful with its mobile strategy, with mobile sites and apps, so I've been trying the iPad app out..
The first thing that struck me about this app was the lack of navigational options on the homepage. Instead of allowing people to browse by categories, the choice is limited to six featured products, or some popular searches that can be accessed via a drop-down menu:
This means that the search box is the main method of navigation through the app, which is fine if you have a clear idea what you want, but not so great if you just want to browse.
While mobile sites, and eBay's iPhone app, tend to use the search box to save space, but I'm not sure this is so necessary on an iPad, a device which is well designed for browsing.
I think scrolling up and down on the iPad is much easier and quicker than on laptops or PCs, so the results page is easy to digest, with a small photo, product details and price displayed. The slider bar at the bottom of the page is a good way to allow users to narrow the price range, as well as showing how many products are available in any price bracket.
Some searches will turn up large number of results, but the app could do with more ways to narrow the search. For instance, a search for iPhone produces 139,000 results, and even when I select the 'mobile phones' category there are still nearly 5,000 results, with only the options of selecting distance, completed listings etc:
The main eBay site has more filtering options; whether items are new or used, location etc, which would have been useful here.
The listings are detailed enough, and you can see the seller's feedback ratings, though unfortunately you can't click to read individual reviews and comments, which can be useful.
You can zoom in and see enough detail on the products, so you can tell, for instance, that this is not an iPhone as it appears to be on the smaller picture, but something called a 'dual sim GSM quadband Java Touch Screen Mobile Phone.'
When there are multiple photos, as in this listing for an Aston Martin, you can swipe to scroll through and see the car from different angles and see shots of the engine and interior.
This is where the app works really well, scrolling through and looking at a number of different items is actually easier to do than it is on the main site, since you can get back to the search results by simply clicking outside of the listing.
The eBay iPad has a few niggles, such as the lack of filtering options, and the emphasis on the search box, but once you get to a set of search results, browsing and viewing listings is a good experience on the iPad.
I tried the main eBay site on the iPad, and it does have some of the iPad usability problems I outlined in this post, so I can see the need for an app, since a site like eBay will doubtless attract a good deal of traffic from the iPad.