Pretty and Useless

Feb 12, 2013

It seems there’s been a small surge in pretty productivity apps that aim to “revolutionize” how we handle some every day chore. Mailbox for email. Clear for todos. And the past day or two was abuzz about Sunrise for your calendar. (I thought Cue disrupted the calendar…? No?)

This past week I’ve been struggling to make Mailbox work – and it’s probably more deserving of my ire – but Sunrise really sent me for a loop today. I downloaded it this afternoon and deleted it immediately because of FB Connect. Later I decided to forge ahead, just to see what the fuss was about just to realize it’s an overhyped app with a pretty color palette. I found myself going to different parts of the app and wondering “Did they even add any functionality?”

The TL;DR is: A couple of cool gestures and pretty colors isn’t enough to make a great application. People primarily use productivity apps for their utility not their aesthetic. Utility should be the first concern.

I’ll just list (a small number of) the thoughts that Sunrise apparently never cared to have:

Why did you not put any event information in the calendar you show when I try to add a new event? What if I’m about to make a conflict? (This one is mind boggling. It’s like there was no thought put into * actual calendar work. At a bare minimum I need to know if I am busy or not before I schedule an appointment. This is the point of a calendar.)

It’s neat you found the word “skype” in my event and used the Skype icon in the event marker. Oh wait, that’s all you did. I can’t open Skype. I can’t find their Skype username. All I can do is get * directions to Skype. Like, the actual office. Really, what’s going on here? I’m at a loss with this one too. Adding tiny icon actually made the experience bad for me.

I would like to see this app work for me, and I now know that at least one of these things is going to be addressed. But on the whole, this app doesn’t do anything special. It barely has an functionality. It’s just a nice wrapper on a weak calendar app. I don’t think much time was even spent trying to solve any real calendar issue, or for that matter, if any calendar users were asked what they want in an app.

Which brings me to my final question: Are you planning to listen to all those reviews in the App Store and make this thing worth keeping on my phone for more than 20 minutes?