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IF IT were a movie, the terrible opening weekend reviews would have consigned it to a quick and brutal box office death.
But the masses of people who went online to vent their loathing for a complex new public transport iPhone app have been told to learn to love it.
The app was released last Thursday by Public Transport Victoria, the government body that this month took over the running of public transport in the state.
An upgrade of the old Metlink train timetable app, it includes information on trains, trams and buses and employs GPS mapping technology, in what PTV hopes is a big leap in the provision of useful information for people travelling around the state.
But more than 1200 people have taken to the iTunes store in its first four days and given the app a giant thumbs down, with the average user rating being one star out of five. ''Worst app ever'', ''bring back Metlink'' and ''horrible upgrade'' is a tiny but indicative sample of the responses, with many complaining the app is not intuitive or user-friendly. A handful of users have also fiercely defended the app as a great advance on the old one.
In response, PTV has urged people to show faith, saying some of the problems were caused by a server failure as ''hundreds of thousands'' of people downloaded the app on its first day.
''The app has many new and advanced features and is vastly different to the old app,'' a spokeswoman said. ''We expect it will take time for people to get used to it … We are committed to making the app work for users and we will use feedback to help build on its current features.''
But one commentator said PTV's call to persist with the app was proof it had failed to properly consult with people while designing it.
''When you launch an application like that it needs to work first time, every time, because you often won't get a second bite at the apple,'' said Lisa Wade, director of Stamford Interactive, a Melbourne-based web user consultancy that has analysed the app. ''They've launched something that people can't use, as evidenced by all of the bad feedback.''
Ms Wade said it was far more expensive to launch an app before ironing out the bugs than to consult users and get it right beforehand. ''To fix it they'll need to talk to their users, watch them interact with the app and see the problems they're experiencing,'' she said.
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