#ASAE11 iPad app rants and raves

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True confession: I destroy conference programs. Ironic, considering all of the hours I used to put into creating them back during my conference management days. But they’re big, heavy, and complicated. I usually only need a few pages from the book, so I tear out that day’s agenda, and leave the rest in my room. By the end of the conference, I have a shriveled, torn mess that inevitably finds its way to the hotel trash can.

But this year will be different! This year, I will be using the new #ASAE11 iPad app. Woohoo! ASAE worked with Results Direct to create a truly streamlined conference app that is complete enough for me to abandon that conference program altogether. I would say that I’ll look super-cool carrying around nothing but my iPad, except that my first-generation iPad is so last year. I’ll have to settle for looking semi-cool, rather than super-cool.

As you can see, I love the new iPad app. But not everyone is as deeply satisfied as I am. So here’s what to expect from this nifty little app.

The Dashboard

  • Raves: It has everything I want to be able to see at a quick glance, including room numbers. I can see the list of sessions I’ve selected through the “manage schedule” tab, OR I can switch the view to see everything that’s happening right now. I can also see the Twitter stream, and the media tab seems to go to Acronym posts, which is cool since there’s always great conference-related content there.
  • Rants: Not sure what “Alerts” is for. I’m hoping that will become clear on-site. Also unclear what the “RSS” tab is for. And the Twitter integration is great for viewing, but not very good for posting. It will do in a pinch, but there’s no easy way to reply or retweet–I can’t even copy and paste text from another tweet. This won’t replace TweetChat for me, or any of the wizbang fancy-pants Twitter apps y’all are using.

Manage Schedule

  • Raves: Keyword search is awesome! Don’t mess with the other search options. Keyword will get you what you want. I like that I can select sessions (which will show up on the dashboard) and even add my own items to the agenda–I put in my Marketing Section Council Meeting on Saturday. The process of adding an agenda item is a little finicky, but it works. And if you don’t want to search, it’s super-easy to scroll down through the list of sessions by day, title, and time. And if you tap one of the sessions, the details pop into the search box seamlessly–there are no annoying pop-up boxes or unnecessary new screens. Very nice.
  • Rants: Besides keyword search, the search options are weird. There’s no speaker list–but again, just use keyword search. The tracks are strange. I have to assume that’s just incomplete data. Can’t filter by type–probably bad data again. And the Date/Time thing should show session slots, rather than making me choose a specific time. Also–my Social Media Trouble Spots session has a hashtag (#asae11 ld2) but none of the other sessions seem to? Confused.

My Sessions

  • Raves: Looks like we’ll be able to see tweets for individual sessions on this page, or tweets for the entire meeting. We’ll also have the session details right in front of us. There’s also a cool Notes feature that I plan to try out. You can email your notes to yourself when you’re done with the session.
  • Rants: There’s a user interface challenge in terms of switching between sessions you’ve selected. It’s not as intuitive as it could be, and it crashed on me this afternoon. A quick reboot of the app fixed that problem. Also, it would be nice if there were a better option for downloading my notes from this app, rather than just emailing them to myself from each session.

Exhibitors and Floorplan

  • Raves: Keyword search again! This is much better than trying to read through all the exhibitor listings or sort through categories someone came up with. If the exhibitor did a good job writing their description, or I know the company name, I’m going to find what I want, fast. And I can select them and look at just the exhibitors I chose. If I tap an exhibitor, their description and details come up on the same screen–again, no annoying pop-ups or extra screens. The flooplan is a separate screen, and you can zoom in fairly well. You can also touch a booth and see the exhibitor.
  • Rants: I wish I could download (or even email myself) the list of exhibitors I selected, including their details. The floorplan doesn’t show the exhibitors I selected. And touching the booths to see who’s in there is a little clutzy. And not all the booths are numbered. Not a huge deal to me, since I’ll just wander around anyway.

Welcome Screen

  • Raves: It’s pretty.
  • Rants: But it’s not terribly useful. It points you right to the most useful part of the app, “Manage Schedule,” but I can’t help but wonder if there’s something more that could happen here–think Flipboard, or Twitterfall.

Apps All Over the Place

  • Rave: You can use the “Hub” mobile web app, or the CoreApps Exhibit app (iPhone or Droid or Blackberry), or this iPad app I’m telling you about. Whichever you prefer. ASAE has a whole page explaining the options.
  • Rant: The apps are all separate, so you can’t update your iPhone app and expect to see those changes on the iPad. You multiple device people will just have to pick one and stick with it. You can guess which one I’m going with.

So there you have it. Hope this was helpful. If you see me in St Louis with my nose in my iPad, come say hello!

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