BU Nightlife, a new app for both iPhone and Android, aims to be a Swiss army knife for students going Downtown, the be-all and end-all for everything you need to know about nightlife in Binghamton.
Upon opening the app, two rows of five icons appear on the bottom of the screen, offering a myriad of options. The first thing you notice isn’t the buttons, though, but an EDM track that plays when the app is opened, as if the app were a shitty 10-year-old Myspace page. Strangely, the fullscreen button on the music player actually minimizes it.
The most frustrating things about the app are the boneheaded design decisions. The app is obviously going for utility, but falls immensely short. It offers nothing truly useful that cannot be done from any smartphone browser. For instance, the Cab+Bus page seems like it’s supposed to offer the bus schedule and a list of phone numbers for cabs. It does do that, but in a poorly conceived way. Instead of having an informational table of each cab company and a respective phone number, there are instead a series of links to more pages in the app for each cab company. Each of those pages offers merely the cab companies’ names and phone numbers. As for the buses, there is simply a hyperlink to the OCCT website where a bus schedule can be found. Of the Vestal city buses there is no mention.
The designers of the app are obviously striving for function and originality. A photo submission page allows users to submit pictures of themselves going out, which would later be posted to a separate gallery page, as if Facebook isn’t enough to show everyone that you drank and danced over the weekend. However, the autoplaying music strikes again — it’s impossible to go to those pages without being followed by the music.
Also struggling for usefulness is the Chat page, an unintuitive and nearly illegible part of the app where people can talk about what parties are going on and which are the best. It’s a hub that the app makers intend to be “the pulse of the night.” The app requires you to sign in through Facebook to use it, reminding you that you can just message your friends through Facebook anyway. Or, you know, just text someone.
The app is definitely a work in progress. There are many bugs that still need to be worked out, and the sheer amount and significance of those bugs show just how lazy and half-baked the app is. The “Nightlife” and “Campus” buttons, for example, promptly crash the app instead of opening their respective pages, reminding me of how much I didn’t need the app in the first place.