Times of India Alive App – Review

Today I came across an interesting app, Alive app from Times Of India. A very nice concept to engage smartphone users to interactive content. But this app is from TimesMobile, not Times Internet Limited. Whatever, lets go and try it out. I quickly opened web-browser on my Android 4.1 tablet and jumped to aliveapp.in. Install. Open. And here is what I felt about it, discouraging, my all hopes are stranded. Read on to know how wrong they are in marketing, technological advances, app design, and mobile user interfaces. (It should be noted that I have not used this app on other platforms. This review is for the Android Alive app only.)

why a new app? Yes, that is the first question came to my mind. If this was planned correctly by TOI, a good marketing app focuses on bringing users at one platform. Fragmented space is not going to help anyone. From marketing prospective I would have used same TOI app for this exciting feature. This would have brought some new users to the same platform, and my existing app would have been more popular, isn’t it?

The app is pathetically designed. Have they ever read about Android development guidelines before working on it? Let me give you some of those many examples –

  • Why does the app need following permissions first place? This question is boggling me since I clicked install button. The app does not have any feature to directly call numbers, send SMS, local storage, read my location and read phone status. Do you think I am wrong, and the app needs these permissions anyhow, please enlighten me, please! The only permissions I see it needs is Full Network Access and Use camera, nothing else.
  • No usage of standard settings/context menu. On my 10 inch tablet all the image buttons are horrible starched.
  • Too many pop-ups. I cannot press back button endlessly and come out of the app.
    – Are you sure you want to save this?
    – Are you sure you want to quit?

Technologically inferior quality: If Vineet Jain thinks that TOI believes in innovating constantly and out of the box thinking, then I must say they should look back again. At first, this is a 2D bar code, not augmented reality. There are many augmented reality apps out there which work realtime with camera, and many apps have impressed me. Alive app fails here. It takes 3 to 10 seconds to figure out the image, sometimes fails to consider the image. Consider how QR codes and Microsoft-Tag works, they have some reference point within image for quick detection. For this picture when I scanned with Tablet camera it opened 9 times Dr Batra’s 20 sec ad (published in 2011) and only once it opened original video. I think some goof-up with hash value! Besides, the catalogue page just lists videos and there is no option to open/view videos.

If you are still not convinced here are some snippets from Play Store review.

“very poor performance even with the object being well lit”
“its a sheer waste of time……the app says not found even after 2 minutes of scanning even on 3g. it’s a complete crap”
“Opens advertisement while scanning. No news shows.”
“Its too ugly icon itself is super ugly!”
“Didn’t show the video that I scanned….”

Finally I uninstalled Alive app as it does not add value to me at all.

2 thoughts on “Times of India Alive App – Review

  1. Anshul Pondwal


    I like your writing.

    However at times, though belonging to a country of critics you go far ahead of nor acceptance of things and start enjoying the process of criticism rather than produce honest research.

    Your research on augmented reality is pretty ordinary. Infact it seems you dont know much of it.

    How will you integrate the existing app with AR? It would be like killing the thing. There have been 20 instances of independent apps being popular so emperically you dont know what succeeds.

    Then you said things on design. Man whatever you wrote is so silly. I dont like the apps design that much but still the permission thing is I mean..

    I think alive stands great in terms of leading and speed of detection. Compare it with Aurasma and Blippar which are the best. Go ahead and compare it with metaio also. Its superbly fast with such huge numbers video being served per day.

    Rest I would say the comment mention is foolhardy. Blippar which is the coolest AR activation app has a lesser rating in a pretty learned user sample. In India to have a 3.5 rating for an AR app is awesome.

  2. Ankit Jain Post author

    Nor acceptance? I gave the app fair chance to meet my expectations. At frist it failed in detecting image and played Dr Batra’s ad 9 times out of 10.

    Btw, do you know what is augmented reality. The definition says “Augmented reality (AR) is a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, etc”. Now form this definition do you think the alive app does any augmentation of objects in to live camera view? No. As I said it is a 2D bar code. Ask anyone who understand technology, it’s a 2D bar code.

    You talk about Blippar, right? Yes it is an AR app. But alive app is not. Blipper shows ads/content on live camera view (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=hT-Z6yhiLD8 ), whereas alive app just plays you-tube video. It’s just a still-image to hashcode converter.

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