REPORT: The do-ers and don't-ers of Australian brand apps

Matt Timmiss
By Matt Timmiss | 30 August 2013
Matt Timmiss.

Our intern, Matt Timmiss, has trawled through the apps of the Nielsen Top 25 Advertisers, among others, to bring you the 'Top Three Do-ers' and 'Top Three Don't-ers' of the application scene.

Mark Bergin, creative director of Design100 and director of the Australian Mobile Awards, says he's looking for three things when it comes to apps: "direction, expectations and experience".

So, under the AdNews spotlight, which apps have come out as the stars of the school play, and which have been left in the corner of the stage with wet trousers and a snotty nose?

Top Three Do-ers


This app goes above and beyond the usual store-finder function, having become part of the experience of Starbucks customers and an everyday tool in their lives.

Tired of carrying reward cards and standing around in long queues of irate, thirsty people to pay for their coffee? Well this app has the solution.

Sign in to your loyalty account and you can add credit to the app, and pay with it as well. You can also top it up from the device, so that you don't waste a second on your way to a caffeine-fuelled day.

The motto for the app is, "Pay faster than you can say 'Tall, skim, vanilla latte'", and with one of the highest ratings of any app (4+), it looks like it holds true.

The app does come with the usual store finder and menu, which are blended into the stylish, easy and functional interface. Here's one happy customer:

"Nice app, finally I know where all the stores are. Awesome. Can't wait to pay with my iPhone."

And yet, there is one tiny snag... For some reason, the Starbucks app is only available to Apple users. It seems Starbucks has decided that the 'hipster sitting, writing a blog in Starbucks on a shiny MacBook while listening to internet radio off the iPhone' stereotype is something they'd like to perpetuate. Tough luck, Android coffee crew...


McDonald's has copped a lot of bad press over the years, from rumours of cow eyeballs being used in burgers, to a company called '100% Beef' producing the meat (to avoid legal issues).

There was even a story of mutant cows being reared in labs, with baseball-sized heads and no face, limbs or tails... But we digress.

The 'Track My Macca's' app was designed to do away with negative speculation and outright lies about its ingredients. Point your phone at the specially designed packaging and the packaging transforms before your eyes using augmented reality.

This isn't the first use of augmented reality, but it is certainly one of the most ambitious!

Your average app may scan the pack, probably with a QR code, providing generic information about ingredients and encouraging you to buy more, but not this one.

Point your phone at your specific product and, using packaging-recognition software, GPS and the date and time, it will show you an animated story telling you where the ingredients have come from, right down to the farmer!

Less excitingly, once you've had your moment with your (most likely now cold) sandwich and fries, you can then share what you've found on a plethora of social media sites.

Of course, there is a catch. For some reason, the app has been taken off the market. Not only that, but when it was available, remarkably it was only on the iPhone – maybe Android customers just aren't as green as their hipster Apple friends.

We talked to David Morgan, director of corporate communications and marketing services at Nestlé, who said that "marketers should be striving to create an emotional bond to a brand". It doesn't seem possible to get any more up close and personal with your dinner, so success all round, McDonald's.

Foxtel Guide

Sick of getting home and realising you forgot to record My Super Sweet 16? Well this may be the app for you.

Download Foxtel Guide to your Android phone, your iPhone or even your Windows Phone (if anyone has one) and you'll be able to view the TV guide just the same as it is on your TV screen.

Not only that, but if you have Foxtel IQ or IQHD you can record or series link any program from your phone, so no more tearing home from the office to catch My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding.

This app is great because it fits into your daily life and makes it a little bit easier – a definite keeper.

"Works fine, no issues. Log in and away you go."
–Alex Mercer

Only complaint seems to be that it's not Foxtel Go, but then it never said it was.

Top Three Don't-ers

Optus Smart Safe

What's the promise? In the description of the app, Optus says that it can "backup and store your photos, music, memories, contacts, calendar and documents directly from your compatible Optus smartphone and computer to your Smart Safe account on up to five devices".

But can it even do it on one device? Most customers don't think so. Out of all the apps in this list, Optus (not so) Smart Safe is synonymous with 'crap' more times than any other in reviews. Not only is it crap, but it's sticky crap, as the app cannot be removed or uninstalled from Optus phones. Someone call a plumber!

As far as consumer rants go... On the 'Crap-O-Meter', 11 of the 30 first reviews on Play Store used the word 'crap', and the rest weren't exactly complimentary.

"Speechless. Is this a joke? Optus you should get out of the phone/software business. Customer service has no idea what Smart Safe is! I want my contacts back. Not hard. Waste of hours and hours of my time! It is worse than a virus!"
–Simon Gee

"So cranky that I have lost everything because it does not restore properly then deletes files sent! Crashes and stops in the middle of sync! Total crap!"
–A Google User

"I want to uninstall this but it won't let me. Optus, why are you not listening to your customers? No one wants your stupid apps."
–A Google User

Coles / Coles Express

Out of the big supermarkets, Coles has the worst user-rated apps. Compared to Woolworths, Aldi and Kmart, who score an average of four stars on Google's Play Store for their apps, Coles and Coles Express both score a lowly two stars (on the iOS Store, Coles Express only scored one star).

Problems include: unreliable stock information, crashing issues and a lack of product pricing, particularly for petrol, where individual gas station prices are withheld. Let's see what the users have to say.

"Okay but listed items not in stock. Wasted my time."
–Ian Smith

"Pathetic – absolutely useless. [Items on app] had not been stocked in over 12 months. Also, where are the prices?"

"Poorly done, doesn't display the prices of items when scanned – I thought that was the point?"
–Liana Hawes
In a world of technology, it looks like the best way to check Coles stock is still to walk to the shop and look. We caught up with Deniz Nalbantoglu, managing director of Webling Interactive, which created the Coles Express app.

“The Coles Express mobile app has not been updated for some time and there are issues on some newer mobile devices. We have listened to customer feedback and are about to release a new version of the app that resolves these issues and adds new functionality."
Unfortunately, app users are a very impatient bunch, and if the app doesn't work straight away, they may end up following Gollum's advice...

Citibank Australia

With multiple features, on the surface this app looks like a great alternative to online banking. It's even available on both Android and iOS. Great, right? Wrong.

Rated one star by the most people of any banking app, love for this app is rather tiny. Know something that's not tiny? This app.

It takes up more storage than any app on this list, a whopping 15.9MB on the iOS store!

So what exactly is it clogging the smartphone up with? Could it be your recent transactions, a useful thing to have to hand?

"Crap, can only see a few recent transactions."
–Aoife Murphy

No... Then maybe it's the stylish layout with lots of helpful, intuitive graphics.

"Zero stars. Just like everything else Citibank-related, painful interface and unintuitive."
–Sam Brock

Hmm, well at least you only have to put your pin in once rather than every time you use it with the 'One-Time Pin' feature.

"One-Time Pin (actually, it's Many-Times Pin) is one hell of a hassle. Promises from Citi indicated that this app would enable get an OTP when offline. It doesn't."

So, the app's not very good. But don't panic! There is one redeeming feature of this app.

Once you're suitably angry, the app will locate the nearest restaurant which is willing to drown you sorrows with complimentary wine.

As much as that sounds like a joke, it's actually true – it's part of the Citibank Dining Program. Cheers, everyone!

Matt Timmiss

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