One of the main complaints of platforms that aren’t iOS or Android is the lack of apps. At least that’s the lazy “con” to put in your review of an operating system or device. In fairness, most platforms have most of the things that most people want. However, even if lots of your family and friends might be “most people”, there’s a good chance that you aren’t, and there’s a particular service that you use, and you
can’t don’t want to live without the app that supports it.
Unfortunately, the arrival of your must-have app on a platform isn’t the end of the story. There are far too many cases of companies who offer nothing more than lip-service to a given platform. The good news for users of iOS and Android is that you’re less likely to fall foul of this, although there are some apps that are only/better supported on one or the other of those platforms, for whatever reason. For people who are thinking about changing platforms, it’s no use just checking if there’s versions of the apps really want on that platform; you also need to know if they’re any good and ideally if they’re being supported beyond an initial release window.
This brings me on to the sad case of Audible for Windows Phone.
As the number one supplier of audiobooks, Audible’s content is great. Sadly, their app for Windows Phone lets them down badly. My memory isn’t the best, but I think I can just about recall a wonderful period of time when it used to work fine. I use my phone to play audiobooks, podcasts or music on my daily commute, but at some point something changed and using the Audible app has been like torture ever since. It’s been terrible on two most recent Windows Phones (the HTC 8X and the Lumia 930). It may not have been Audible’s fault that it broke (there’s every chance that Microsoft pushed an OS update that changed something, but I do blame them for a lack of pro-active support of their app – plenty of people have reported it broken and they haven’t done anything about it since their last update on 26th November 2013.
For me the problem is starting playback. When it actually starts it’s fine, unless I have to pause for more than a few seconds, then the problems start again. Usually, when I launch the app to play a book, it takes several minutes to start playback. I have sometimes pressed play, taken a shower and got dried and half dressed before it starts to play. Sometimes I’ll see the screen turn off after 5 minutes without it starting – when that happens I’ll force-close the app and launch it again. Sometimes that helps, sometimes I get a short sound like the narrator is clearing their throat, then nothing. It’s abysmal.
My partner in crime at TheTekTonic pinged Audible about this on Twitter and they claim that they’re going to have an update for the app soon. I understand from checking up on this from time to time, that they haven’t had any expertise in-house to update the app, so I presume they have either recruited someone or paid a 3rd party.
@Bibbleq Sorry for the hold up. An update is in the pipeline for this quarter.
— audible.co.uk (@audibleuk) January 6, 2015
I’m hoping that their update will make the app usable again, but here’s their problem – if it doesn’t, I’m out of patience. They’re going to lose me as a customer. If they didn’t have an app on Windows Phone and I choose that platform, that’s on me. As it stands, I expect to be able to use their service on my platform because they provided an app for that, but the app doesn’t work properly, so that’s on them. So this isn’t about my poor choice; it’s about a company that doesn’t appear to value my custom. It’s eroded my faith in them as a service provider that I have been giving money to on a monthly basis for years. If their new app is great, I’ll be well on the way to forgiving them (because I know that making software work on such a wise variety of devices is not trivial), but if not…