Rethinking the Ike’s Place iPhone Application

If you were to ask ten San Franciscans for the best sandwich shop in town I wouldn’t be surprised if they all exclaimed Ike’s Place as the best sandwiches. Ike’s menu is absolutely astoundingly huge with eighty listed sandwiches and many more secret sandwiches that only the cool kids know about.

I’m a bit spoiled to be honest as I live just one block away from an Ike’s. I found myself tempted to eat one of their gargantuan sandwiches just about everyday back when I worked from home. Thankfully I had the willpower to know better. Their sandwiches range in price from $10 all the way up to $20 (though the average price is $10.60) and they’re famously large with The Kryptonite sandwich clocking in at 5,700 calories!

Those same San Franciscans that would have suggested Ike’s Place would also add the caveat “But be ready to wait in a long line or order ahead.” Ike’s Place is so popular that they’ve been kicked out of their shops at least twice (?) since I moved to San Francisco. Neighbors pushed them out due to the extremely high traffic. Ordering ahead of time is absolutely essential with some wait times exceeding an hour!

Thankfully Ike’s Place has an iPhone app for ordering ahead of time (no online ordering through their website which bewilders me). It’s made by mCommerce Innovations Group and it’s pretty horrible. Look Ike Shehadeh, I LOVE your sandwiches. I just want the best for you guys which is why I wrote up this post. It’s full of criticisms, corrections and the like but it’s also full of solutions and love.

Disclaimer: I’m not a real designer, I’m not a UX/UI expert for some big dev company, I’m not a real programmer or a guru at any of this stuff. This just what a casual user, who has a touch of OCD, observed when trying to order a sandwich from his favorite sandwich shop.

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Gowalla, Hear My Cries!

This post was inspired by three things.

  1. My addiction to social media/location based social networking
  2. A few annoyances with the Gowalla system
  3. A post by Dave2 (aka @blogography) about his similar complaints.

Check out Dave’s post at Blogography. This post started as a comment on his blog before it became this blog post.

For those who didn’t go to Dave’s blog first and those who haven’t heard of Gowalla, here are the basics.

Connects to Facebook and Twitter to allow you to check-in to your favorite locations, let your friends know you’re there and get cute little awards for doing it! I’ve got 111 stamps in my passport and 12 pins so far.

Unlike some other location-based social games/systems, Gowalla is 100% user generated.  Your favorite coffeeshop not listed? Just add it.  It uses the GPS in your iPhone (and soon the Android) to locate you and create the location.  This is genius and one of the major reasons I went to Gowalla.  But there is a problem.

At least part of the problem has to do with Gowalla itself.  If I put myself two blocks away from The Bean when I commissioned that location to Gowalla… everyone needs to be in proximity of where it was commissioned, not actually where it is.

This happens to me a lot.  People seem to mark the location of places from their car, after leaving the restaurant or store.  Probably because they get better GPS outside and to keep from being annoying to their friend who is w/o iPhone or doesn’t get Gowalla/Twitter, etc.  You know the type.

I feel like Gowalla could greatly improve this by making the boundary somewhat fluid.  If 10 people are trying to check in to the same location a few meters away, or maybe even a couple of blocks away, maybe move the landmark or make the boundary pull out to those locations.

This Starbucks location is a great example of how this could work.  At this particular Starbucks location, customers often spread out down the street, drinking their brew on the patio space.   This becomes especially true for locations that don’t fit the normal, front door, layout.  If you check in at the west door of Macy’s the first time, will you be able to check in at the east door another time?  I know Gowalla increases the size of check-in spaces to provide for this flexibility but it doesn’t seem to be smart enough, to me.

What about editing checkins from people in cars or people that are just plain lying?  A number of times I’ve seen locations on Gowalla that simply don’t exist.  I should be able to report them, or if they do exist, move them.

It’s all about crowdsourcing.  Let the users fix these problems simply by checking in or hitting a “Report this Location” button.  Easy peasy!

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When Google Enters a Market…

We all knew this day would come and we all knew when it did it would bring the usuals, namely the price of free.

Google announced it would release a free, GPS navigation app with turn-by-turn navigation for Android with the promise that they have an iPhone version in the works.

So what happened to Garmin and TomTom today?

Google Rules, Garmin and TomTom drool

Google Rules, Garmin and TomTom drool

Garmin dropped 14%, TomTom 36%.

Google went up nearly 10%!

All of this on the heels of TomTom releasing their $200+ GPS navigation system for the iPhone.  Oops much?

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