mobile app gets important upgrade

by Alistair Helm in , apps.png

You can now sync your favourite properties between the web and your iPhone or Android powered smartphone using the mobile app.

Launched in late 2010 the iPhone app was the first geo-locational app for property buyers and renters in NZ – some 18 months ahead of Trade Me’s own property app. In that time the app gained ascendency and well over 100,000 downloads making it the leading mobile app for property in NZ. The Android version was added in 2011.

However as I stated in a review of the options for mobile property apps back in March, my choice was the Trade Me app simply because it provided full syncing between web and app; and at the time did not. 

Well now that shortcoming has been addressed, and I have to say I am back in favor of the app for all the reasons I stated in my original summary. It is a better and more intuitive app that more fully uses the inherent GPS capability – it makes discovering property for sale or rent so much easier.

In addition to this critical feature of the latest version (Android 1.2.1 iPhone 1.4) there are a couple of extra features. Here’s my take on what’s good and bad.

The Good:

  • The syncing is great.
  • The property details now carries over auction and tender dates – nice.

The Bad:

  • Signing in - I did notice a problem. As with many people I could not remember my password so I had to reset my password and await a new password. With the app open I then entered my new password only to find i was not accepted! I found that you needed to re-start the app so you could sign in with the new password. Its not surprising, but more than a little bit frustrating.
  • When you download the latest version in the mad rush to benefit from syncing your favourite properties, pause a moment to consider that all the favourites you have on your phone with the previous version will be lost and not integrated in the new version.
  • On the iPhone version only, when you first sign in to My Property, no listings show – you need to ‘pull down’ to refresh – this really needs a prompt as you like me probably sit there expecting to see your saved properties and they are not there! The Android version works a treat.
  • The summary of the new features says “Plus when homes are withdrawn or sold we will keep these in My Property under an archived section for 30 days” However when I set up my phone I found (on both Android & iPhone) that this section showed saved properties I had favourited showing up from over 2 years ago – these properties are no longer on the web or in the My Property section of the website and interestingly include full images but no description!
  • Another aspect of the summary says that you can “view all saved homes in a map” – well try as I might I could not find this feature – was I missing something?
  • A final note – the syncing between the web and the app only works when you touch the “Sync” button on the app (to be found top right on the iPhone app). There was no notice of this and by comparison to the Trade Me app this is not as slick.

The missed opportunities:

  • Still no social interaction from property listings, I can only email a listing, no Facebook or Twitter integration.
  • No ability to capture and sync the notes and photos that form part of the ‘inspection’ component of the app.
  • The iPhone app still using Apple maps as the base layer, this mapping solution is terrible as compared to the Google maps. As I understand it the Google maps API can be used to power iPhone apps. The benefits are huge as this example below shows:

Realestate app vs Google maps.png

I am pleased that the app has got this much-needed upgrade. What slightly surprised me was the fact that I found out about this upgrade all by myself – no press release, no notice on the site – even the landing page for apps makes no notification – nothing on Twitter or Facebook about this great improvement, so I am glad I can share this news!

Disclaimer: From 2006 through to August 2012 I was CEO of The views expressed here are my personal views as an independent observer. I hold no lasting connection to the Limited company, aside from a passionate desire to see it succeed.