In the “fairly interesting, I want to learn more” category, I heard about FastMall a couple of days ago, and had to wait for it to show up in my region. This is a mall map app in which you can download the map of a mall near you, to use offline. That’s great, I told myself. No more hunting for the mall directory!
The design is nicely Metroed. It’s white text on a light blue-graphic-on-blue background that isn’t busy, nor does it distract from reading. A good start.
The first panel is “nearby malls.” When I first opened the app up, this panel just sat there. There was no feedback telling me it was searching, and after about a minute, I just tapped the search icon at the bottom on the screen. I looked up the mall closest to me, which is the only one larger than a strip mall that I can think of in the county (this is a “bedroom community” for the county to the north and the rest of the county is very rural). It found the mall with ease. Great! I then chose it, and checked out the map.
Holey carps, that was terrible! The map itself looked reasonable, but all of the icons (bathroom, cinema, the blue dots to touch to see the name of the store) were ALL SHIFTED DOWN AND RIGHT. Strangely enough, the parking icons were accurate. I started pressing little (and I mean LITTLE) blue dots, and while I haven’t been in the mall very much in the last few years I did notice that there was one store that I’m pretty sure is no longer there – it being the only large-size woman’s clothing store in the mall, and me being a large woman, I kind of noticed it’s disappearance from that mall years ago. A quick check to the mall’s website and the store directory confirmed that that store was no longer in that mall. So now I see the app has old information.
You also cannot zoom in or out on the maps. Big minus.
And the bottom of the screen are icons for levels, filters, search, and directions. There is also text for mall information. I pressed the latter. This brings up a small map showing you where the mall is, and “mall info.” The info text is chopped off 1 character on the right side (I read: “…and a state-of-the-ar”, “…in the 400-sea”, “Get all your shopping don”. There was no side scrolling). Formatting fail. From this page you can add the mall to your favorites and also see deals from the stores. The deals seems actually useful. I only did a quick look, but it pulls coupons from “spotzot.com” (never heard of it), and it pulls a LOT, which is good. It is probably up to the stores, however, to decide whether they accept coupons you just show from your phone, so check with the stores before you go shopping.
The filters option is for entrances, elevators, restrooms, escalators, stairs, food court, and cinemas. All options are on by default. The search option from the map searches that particular mall for a store. As you type, it gives you an auto selection of store name, level. It then sends you to the map, but does not seem to highlight the dot, which I think it should have.
The only other mall in the area (well, it’s more of a “town center” design – it is not an indoor mall) was listed as “no map.” Well, darn! So I pressed the icon for the mall anyway, and it brought up the “mall info” page. It had the area location map (probably a Bing map) and the mall address. The “add mall” and “deals” icons where at the bottom of the page, but now there was a “stores” icon that hadn’t been on the other. Pressing this took me to a store list. Okay, I can live with that. At least that’s a help. On a whim, I pressed a store to see if it would react. What I got was a “store info” page, with the name of the store, a short description, and two options at the bottom of the screen: call store and add store. I went back and choose one of my favorite stores, a local chocolatier, and unfortunately they had no description (because they aren’t a large chain?). Adding the store put it on a favorites list. The call store brought up a call/don’t call pop-up at the top. Nice to know that.
Just for a comparison, I then searched and downloaded a map for the only 2-level mall in the area. This map was on a larger scale (still no zoom in or out) and the icons seemed to be in the right places! The elevator and escalators were marked properly, and the level selector also worked seamlessly. A search for my favorite store in that mall centered the map on the store, and popped up the name over it, with a small arrow so I could tell which side of the corridor it is on. However, the same store I knew wasn’t in the other one I also know has left this one. A search on the mall’s website confirmed this, yet a search in the app showed it was still there.
Overall, I give this app a lukewarm response. The maps can be useful if the dots for the stores are accurate; information may or may not itself be accurate; zoom in/out would be nice. The store list when there is no map is a good thing, the UI itself is nice and the app as a whole seems to be well thought out. I will probably keep it, and use it, but I’ll keep in mind that it may or may not be accurate.
The app is free (thankfully) and can be found in the Marketplace here. Where it has no description. Or pictures. *headdesk*