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Two of the first apps released for the iPad since Friday's release are property search apps for Primelocation.com and Rightmove.
I've been comparing the two property search apps...
Rightmove already has a useful iPhone app, but rather than simply producing a larger version for the iPad, it has adapted the site to produce a smoother browsing experience.
The search screen has been kept simple, users can enter a postcode or location, or use GPS to detect their whereabouts, before selecting properties for sale or rent. The results page is the most impressive feature of the app:
Users can browse the search results by moving them left or right with their finger, and the images and price details are helpful when deciding whether to click for more details.
Filter and sort options are provided to narrow the scope of the search, and these can be applied before or after the search:
The property details pages are useful too, with relevant email and telephone contact details for the estate agent, basic details about the property and a range of photos, while the location has been plotted via Google Maps:
The Primelocation iPad app is quite different to Rightmove's. It can only be used in landscape view for starters:
The search functionality is minimal; you can only search by postcode or location; the app doesn't use GPS.
The results are displayed in a spiral format, and users can spin it round to see different properties, though only one is highlighted at a time. The arrows on the right can be used to find cheaper or more expensive properties:
This is a confusing and not very useful way to display search results, and the lack of any kind of filtering or sorting options means that the numbers of search results for some locations are completely unmanageable.
If you search on a London postcode for instance, then you might have more than 100 properties, and no means to narrow the selection. This lack of filtering options is a major omission which makes the app unnecessarily difficult to use.
Click on a result and you can see a preview of the listing and some photos, but you need to go to the Primelocation website to see more.
In fact, since the main website has the advanced search and filter options that are missing from the app, it makes more sense to bypass the app and head straight for the main site.
There isn't too much competition here; if users want a usable and useful property search app for the iPad, then Rightmove is the clear winner. It works intuitively, it looks good, and provides the tools and information needed for effective searches.
By contrast, the Primelocation app seems to have been designed without even though for the user experience. While the spiral view of search results may be flashy, it does little to help the user to find a property that suits them, and the lack of any kind of filtering and sorting options renders the app almost entirely useless.