My dad recently got his first smartphone, and the other day he asked me for my thoughts on cycling apps. I found myself advising him not only on cycling apps, but also the process of evaluating apps in general, because it's a little tricky compared to more "traditional" software.

In particular, well-maintained apps get updates constantly. This is generally a good thing, but it means that when someone writes an in-depth review of an app--especially one that compares it to other, similar apps--the information in that review is going to be out of date within a matter of months. When seeking a recipe app, I found some reviews that lamented an app's lack of a particular feature (or even its absence on Android), only to realize that the review was written a few years ago and that the feature in question had been added in the interim. Smartphone apps have been "a thing" for almost 10 years now (yikes!) so out-of-date reviews are very common.

This problem is compounded by the fact that an app usually only gets extensive coverage when it is first released or generates its first wave of serious interest--that is, right at the time it starts to look intriguing, but before it's had the benefit of a few more years of added features. No one bothers to write any followups, and the review sites and "Top 10" lists featuring the app become trusted sources, even as their information ages.

Then, because updates are often so granular--one little feature added at a time, not in major releases--there often isn't any kind of big milestone that would trigger another wave of examination.

So I had to advise Dad to take third-party reviews with extra grains of salt, and keep a close watch on recent update histories to make sure the apps he considers are still "live" and well-maintained.

I guess the moral here is that you should "go and do likewise"...and make sure to be articulate and informative when you post your own reviews, because your information is more current than what most professional writers have to offer.

Previous Post Next Post