Æ News Review – Edinburgh Fringe launches programme on iPhone app

Jul 21 2010 | By More

The Annals of Edinburgh Stage puts the Edinburgh Fringe iPhone App through its paces

The opening page of the new app

By Thom Dibdin

The Edinburgh Fringe has launched its much anticipated iPhone app, allowing iPhone users to access the wonders of the Fringe programme, with its  2453 shows in 259 venues, direct from their mobiles.

At first glance its looking good, with quick access from the opening panel to Shows, Venues and My Fringe. Further investigation finds a few surprising drawbacks, however. Not fatal ones, it must be said, and certainly things which should be fixed in the next release.

Sitting at home in Edinburgh, the first thing to find out was the closest production to my front door on a random date: the evening of Thursday 12 August let’s say.

I just happen to know that would be the theatre show Decky Does a Bronco by Grid Iron, in Traverse @ Scotland Yard, nightly at 7.30pm, running from 5 to 21 August.

Finding Decky Does a Bronco is easy: tap shows, tap search and type Decky. Show found. scroll through to the 12th and tap – up comes the listing. Tap the wee star on the bottom and it has been added to my favourites for easy access later.

The listing throws up the first glitches: no mention of the production company or how long the show lasts. These are both useful – occasionally vital – pieces of information. Running time is a particularly vital in the furore of getting round round the Festival. Nor does this screen mention the venue address. Still that is just a tap away.

Finding a piece of theatre on the 12th in the evening is not quite so simple nor, initially, quite so intuitive. Scrolling through the date at the top is tricky, but tapping brings up a scroll-through calendar with times. Set it to the 12th, 7pm and away we go.

The date and time facility

Set the genre to theatre and either scroll down to Decky or type Decky in the search box. Usefully, having set the time and date, you can move through the different genres.

It’s in the Venues facility that things get more tricky. Tap the icon and you find yourself in a basic list. An unsearchable (as yet) list. Whoops, that is a problem. How many venues was that again? Scrolling through the 259 of them to get to “Traverse @ Scotland Yard” (including past all those venues listed under “The” which is a departure from the Fringe programme) takes a hideous amount of time. 42 seconds to be precise. Oh, and you discover that such trendy venues as “eteaket” which use a lower case initial come after Zoo Southside.

Worse, clicking straight onto the map icon only brings up those venues already loaded. So no “Traverse @Scotland Yard” venue loaded there then. Although “Art Amatoria” on Bellevue crescent is, should I be up for a bit of free art.

A further glitch is if you scroll through to the bottom and twiddle about a bit before looking on the map, the app has forgotten the ones at the beginning, so Art Amatoria has mysteriously disappeared. No art for me then.

Looking at the shows in a particular venue is also tricky. Traverse @ Scotland Yard is no problem, of course. It’s a site specific venue with only the one show. Venues with more shows on are a nightmare.

Take the Traverse itself. Or perhaps not, I can’t be fussed scrolling all the way through to get to it. It will have to be Assembly @ George Street: Click through and the there’s two further clicks: Map and What’s On.

The map is fine – there are the Assembly Rooms where they should be, and there’s me at home. No route-finder though – not that you really need it, but it would be nice I suppose.

The big trouble comes with the What’s On click-through. It is simply a list of all the performances at the venue, listed chronologically and with no way of searching the list apart from scrolling through.

That is not the productions but the performances. Yes, every single performance at Assembly @ George Street. Which take so long to scroll through that in the time it could have scrolled through the whole list of venues – 42 seconds – I have only succeeded in getting to the 19.25 performance of Fascinating Aida: Pearls Before Wine on Sunday 8th of August. That is only four days of hot Fringe activity – meaning it would take a whole five minutes to scroll through the whole Fringe at the one venue. That is a “Fail” I think.

Which just leaves the My Fringe pages – which look dandy. You can sort your saved shows by date or chronological list. It is easy to change a performance date. How easy it will be to load my initial allocation of 42 shows remains to be seen. And while the lack of a facility to write a note on the diary is irritating at the moment, I suspect it will drive me back to good old paper and pencil during the Fringe itself.

So there you have it. A good but not great app from Loc8 Solutions for the Edinburgh Fringe. At the moment it has far too many glitches which, hopefully, will be rectified in the next release.

And now to recharge my much-depleted battery – this is one power-hungry app!

The app is available here

The Fringe Programme is available online here


Tags: , , , , ,

Comments (1)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Gavin Dutch says:

    Hi Thom,
    Thanks for the very thorough review.

    We really appreciate the feedback and will be sure to address as many of your concerns as we can in the forthcoming update which will be released for the start of the Fringe. In fact we have already implemented solutions for quite a few of them, including venue search, and search of events at a specific venue. Finding your nearest show will also be much easier as in the update shows can be ordered by distance from your current location, or any other location you choose. There are a few other enhancements but I wont get into those here.

    We would have preferred to have all the functionality refined before release but thought that people would still find the app useful in its current form before the Fringe started so released early.

    Thanks again for the feedback, and enjoy the festival when it gets underway,