When it comes to buying things online, there are definitely a lot of options. One of the most popular websites to purchase new swag, without a doubt, is eBay. There are people that spend most of their day combing the online auction website (even when they’re supposed to be working), trying to place the winning bid, while trying to avoid those pesky snipers. With the popularity of the iPad, it comes as no surprise that an online seller of goods would want to provide their service in the form of an app.
EBay for iPad has been around since August 2010, and since it’s release the app has been able to maintain a four star rating (out of five) with over 35,000 ratings, which is no small feat when it comes to App Store reviews. With such high praise from users, it’s high time that eBay for iPad received the AppStorm treatment. All you need to do is hit the jump.
Home Page & Navigation
Upon firing the app initially, you’ll need to get past a few introductory pages (one of which will request that you sign into your eBay account). Once past the introduction, you’ll find yourself on the Home page, which is automatically populated with your My eBay Items. The top three icons (typically Watching, Buying and Selling) can be substituted with any of the categories displayed below; you can also delete and add new categories. To perform any of these actions, simply tap the Edit button in the top right corner and follow the onscreen instructions.
One of the few make-or-break functions of an app, in my opinion, is navigation; without a well designed navigation scheme, an app loses its luster. Instead of using a dual-pane approach to navigation that’s found in a lot of iPad apps, the development team behind eBay for iPad decided to use a hidden menu (a popular navigation scheme in iPhone apps) that allows you to quickly jump between different areas.
The menu can be accessed by tapping the green tab that’s visible along the left edge of the screen (near the top), or you can swipe right anywhere online the left edge. From the menu you can access all the main areas of the app, including the option to sell an item. Usually, I’m not a fan of this navigation approach with iPad apps (I’m looking at you, Rdio), but I really appreciate its use in this case. Three views are available when browsing categories or search results, one of which is a two-pane view (list of items on the left and the highlighted items on the right), and having a menu bar in the way would certainly clutter the experience if the app were designed in such a way.
Buying & Watching
If you’re looking to stuff to buy, there are two methods to go about doing so. First is the good old-fashioned search function, the second of which is done by accessing the Browse button in the header (or side menu). When you use the search function, the left column displays your most recent searches while the right column displays saved searches (you can save a search by tapping the star icon next to the search field once a search has been performed). Refining searches is a fairly manageable task, and is achieved by tapping the Refine button and making your desired selection (though it feels like an occasion in which a side panel would be better suited for the task).
When you tap on an item, you’re instantly transferred to the side panel view (unless you were already using that view). As opposed the the onslaught of information you immediately find on the eBay website when you reach an item’s page, the app does a great job of providing the same amount of data in a format that’s much easier to digest. The top section displays photos; item information (title, sub-title, time remaining, price and shipping price); options to watch, share or browse similar items; and an option to place a bid. The bottom section displays seller information, detailed shipping information, payment options, an item description and much more (tapping the More Details button will unleash a barrage of information).
I’ve only sold a handful of items on eBay since I opened my account in 2004, so I may not be a seasoned veteran, but I’m familiar with the selling process. Overall I always found the task of selling an item to be tedious, as there are a number of fields to fill out, upgrades to consider and numerous previews and edits until the page is just right. I recently upgraded to a new iPhone 5 (my precious), so in reviewing this app I took the opportunity to create a listing for my old iPhone. Overall, the selling experience is much friendlier using eBay for iPad. Each important piece of a listing is divided into its own section, and adding the necessary information is quick and simple.
I did come across a very annoying issue, however. When you add a product description you have to the option of using plain text and HTML, and unless you want your description to be super boring, you’ll need to use HTML. First off, creating HTML tags on an iPad isn’t a very fun task (the less-than and greater-than signs are buried in the keyboard). Imagine how much fun it was when I finished all of my HTML, left the section, returned later to make an edit, and found that all my work was gone. It’s a known issue with the developers, so hopefully it will be corrected in next version.
Until the bug that removes your HTML is corrected, I recommend creating your text in a different notes app.
The Bottom Line
When push comes to shove, eBay for iPad is the kind of app that appeals to a certain user base — people that use eBay. If you’re a buyer, using Safari to access the eBay website offers a familiar user experience, but not necessarily the best overall. While some people don’t agree with the idea that every website needs an app, my experience with eBay for iPad tells me that when it’s done correctly an app is a necessity. Part of this idea is due to the app’s simple and modern UI that includes a mixture of light textured backgrounds, dark textured menus, and colorful buttons and icons that combine to make an aesthetically pleasing experience.
If you’re a seller, the app is a no brainer. While the HTML bug is certainly bothersome, the overall experience makes the process of creating a listing much less headache inducing than the website (though some power sellers might challenge me on that claim). It’s one thing to read about how good an app is, or how easy it makes buying and selling, but it’s a whole other thing to try it out for yourself. At the price of nothing, I recommend giving eBay for iPad a go.