App Roundup: Help for the Holidays

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December 10, 2018

The holidays are upon us! The streets are aglow, the shops are filled with merry tunes, and good cheer is pretty much a given.

Yet, for many of us, this is also the most hectic time of year. All in the span of a few weeks, you might be shopping for friends, family, and significant others, while also making plans for holiday parties, family gatherings, and dinners. So much to do, and so little time to get it all done.

If you’ve got your hands full this holiday season, read on to see five apps that our team has been using to make the holidays more manageable.

Reviewed by Yunseop S., Marketing Associate

I am always finding myself surprised at the last minute by a series of countless anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, and other circumstances worthy of celebration. When that happens, I can get further hung up on choosing the right gift. And it’s a lot of stress trying to avoid choosing a dud of a gift for someone I truly cherish.

A shopping app specifically for gifts.

Giftagram is a gift shopping app that provides hand-to-hand delivery to the recipient, who will receive an actual present instead of just a brown box on the porch. In the app, you’ll find wine, chocolate, flowers, vinyls, books, stationary, and other popular giftable items. There are a lot of choices, ranging from common gifts to unique collectibles (which are often expensive). Apart from the fresh and well-curated catalog, the app makes it extremely easy to send gifts, even when you don’t know your recipient’s physical address. As long as you know the recipient’s phone number or email address, Giftagram will automatically ask the recipient to provide their shipping address.

Finding the perfect gift could be made easier.

When I tried to look for a gift for someone, Giftagram appeared to be giving me personalized suggestions for that specific person. However, I quickly realized that the app was giving pretty much the same gifting suggestions regardless of who the recipient was, and seemingly even regardless of gender. Therefore, Giftagram has a significant business opportunity if it decides to further leverage the power of machine learning and artificial intelligence to improve its personalized recommendation engine. As an example of what this might look like, Giftagram could serve up different gifting suggestions based on known information about the recipient, including their gender, publicly-shared interests on social media, and other information provided by the gifting user.

These might not be the best gift ideas for Luke.

Ultimately, Giftagram meets an important need.

While I personally prefer one sincere call on my special day over any gift, gift giving is an important part of many cultures, and Giftagram is one of the best ways to do it when you’re not able to give a gift in person.

Reviewed by Breann J., Product Owner

I’ve used the Etsy website in the past for shopping. The mobile app is obviously newer and extends Etsy’s unique shopping experience to mobile users. The home screen provides customized recommendations ‘For you’ and a tab for the company’s own curated ‘Etsy Picks’. I found the Etsy picks helpful to find gift ideas I wouldn’t normally think of. Shopping for Dad is always a challenge of mine, and there are a lot of great options for creative, unique and personalized gifts you’d never find at your local shopping mall.

The checkout experience does have some room for improvement. I would prefer if the checkout UI highlighted the individual shipping costs for each item. It of course highlights the price of each item, but shipping is listed below. I wondered how my order total had gotten so high before I realized that shipping costs could exceed even the cost of the items themselves.

Overall, the mobile app provides pretty much the same functionality you get when using the Etsy website. Specifically, one quirk I’ve noticed is that reviews for an entire Etsy store will appear on an individual item. This can be frustrating and confusing, as the items from a seller can be very diverse. How am I supposed to know that their hand knitted scarves are of the same quality of the soy candles if reviews listed under this item are actually for the store?

All around I enjoy using this app for shopping. I think it’s organized well and the Etsy picks and suggestions are helpful if you’re not sure where to start.

Reviewed by Angel P., Visual Designer

Pinterest is a popular social media platform that is based on the concept of cataloging ideas. As such, it’s also incredibly useful for planning holiday parties. In Pinterest, you have the ability to create and organize inspirations and ideas into sections within a board. This allows for easy categorization. For example, if I am planning a party, I can have separate sections for decor ideas, entrees, appetizers, and drinks. You can easily find inspirations and ideas for designs, DIY projects, and recipes. There are even easy ways to collaborate with friends on projects, trips, and parties.

For all of Pinterest’s strengths, there are some areas that could use improvement. Many of Pinterest’s suggested pins are not aligned with my interests, which shows that their machine learning capabilities could still be improved. When it comes to recipes, it would be nice to have the recipe directions be loaded within the Pinterest app, natively. In order to view the cooking directions, Pinterest will frequently take me out of the app and into the original blog post, which creates a negative user experience, as I then have to juggle between different apps if the recipe wasn’t to my liking. By doing so, I often have to search a text-heavy blog post (worse if the blog isn’t mobile responsive) for the relevant recipe information, and this creates a lot of frustration when I’m at the supermarket trying to get the right ingredients purchased. Pinterest’s core functionality is extremely strong, and that’s why I use Pinterest so much despite these relatively minor gaps in the user experience. If you’ve got a party to plan that you’re hoping to wow your guests at, I highly recommend using Pinterest as part of your planning.

Reviewed by Josephine H., Marketing Associate

This app gives you instant access to formal gowns, cocktail dresses, shoes, bags and accessories, all available to rent at a fraction of the retail price.

If you’re missing the perfect outfit for the holidays, Rent the Runway can instantly extend your wardrobe.

I was looking for a red dress for Christmas but couldn’t find one that was both stylish and appropriate for an office party. Once I fired up Rent the Runway, I had three such dresses in my cart within 5 min. I chose red as the color and selected a sleeve type, and the app then presented me with dresses of varying lengths. It also recommended similar dresses to those that I found.

Rent the Runaway offer all kinds of options to help your search for the perfect outfit: length, occasion, color, price, body type, maternity, weather, neckline, sleeve, formality and so more — as well as size and rental period. To some users, the vastness of options might overwhelm rather than simplify the search process. I think having more curated categories could be a welcome addition for users that don’t want to filter by specific attributes.

If you don’t necessarily trust your own fashion sense, you can see reviews with photos from other customers who have used the specific item you’re considering! These can help you really shine during the holidays, but I recommend reading the comments in the reviews as well, not just the photos.

When you do settle on a product to rent, you have options to rent it as a one-off or subscribe to monthly or even unlimited rental plans. With the unlimited plan, you can rent up to three items at a time for a flat monthly fee.

If you find yourself needing to go beyond your wardrobe for an outfit this holiday season, and you’re not looking to buy, check out Rent the Runway and use promo code ‘Holiday special’, which will get you an $80 discount for your first rental.

Reviewed by Chandler F., Art Director

Buzzfeed is great for a lot of things, and Shopping is definitely no exception, especially this time of year. The Shopping section of the app features ongoing collections of curated lists of gift ideas for both your friends and yourself. Lists are themed, have clear product images, and include “promising reviews” from both Amazon shoppers and Buzzfeed writers. You can subscribe to their Shopping newsletter to be alerted when new lists are added. Lists are sprinkled with reaction gifs to make the reading experience that much more fun. Also, it is very addictive; I go in every day to see what’s new.

Currently, you can go back and forth between the Buzzfeed app and Amazon app to choose items the Buzzfeed writers recommend, but it would be nice if there was an actual integration between the two apps to streamline the user experience for shoppers who use both apps.

About CitrusBits

CitrusBits is a mobile app development agency that designs and develops impactful mobile apps and responsive mobile content for businesses of all types. Having developed critical mobile apps for clients including Burger King, Quiksilver, Symantec, and Sotheby’s, CitrusBits is trusted by movers and shakers across all major industries. Yet, we’ve also enjoyed helping small and midsize businesses and select startups turn their mobile aspirations into juicy ROI. We’re passionate about leveraging mobile technology – including iOS, Android, augmented reality, blockchain, and The Internet of Things (IoT) – to help businesses disrupt entire industries and reach their loftiest goals. CitrusBits has helped hundreds of businesses build game-changing mobile apps for more than ten years. Please get in touch if you’d like to talk about your next project.

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