Is Melon Mobile's truly unique interface a blessing or a curse?
Let's face it, people: most of the time you have no idea where you're going. Whether you're trying to prove that you know such-and-such city like the back of your hand, or you're attempting to navigate in unfamiliar territory, sometimes it doesn't hurt to take some friendly advice.
But instead of pulling up to a gas station and trying to decipher which four-lefts and one-right turn they were talking about, you could opt for an app on your smartphone. Enter Hotel Finder from developers Melon Mobile.
Hotel Finder's main objective is spelled out right in its name, and it strives to bring that same simplicity to the app itself. This vacation spot locator promises users a choice from over 230,000+ hotels worldwide, a lofty number indeed. But with all of those results just a few taps away, how do you find the perfect hotel for you without wasting so much time?
The answer lies in Hotel Finder's two most vital components: maps and colors. When you first launch the app, a map greets you with a sweeping animation as it finds your location through GPS. Then, colorful orbs and flags pop up once your location is fixed. From there, you can use the map to move around and look at the various spots where hotels are located, with the orbs signaling the presence of several hotels in one general area. You can tap on these orbs to zoom in on the map and break up these 'clumps' of hotels.
This "live filtering" feature is quite dynamic, and it stands out compared to the never-ending lists other apps employ.Next, you can use the circles along the top of the screen to sort through hotels, with colors representing various price points while the yellow circles represent hotel star ratings. Tapping on one of these circles focuses on that range, filtering your results on the map and in the list view (bottom-left corner). This "live filtering" feature is quite dynamic, and it stands out compared to the never-ending lists other apps employ. Once you find a hotel you're interested in, you can learn more about the venue: room pricing, pictures, facilities, and even directions with the Maps app.
It's a powerful interface, but it is clear Melon Mobile has valued function over form. When I first launched the app, I was flat-out confused; it was information overload. There was no tutorial, nor any how-to section to decode the app's various buttons and toggles. Personally, I believe the root of the confusion stems from the design of Hotel Finder looking so dramatically different from a normal Windows Phone app since it doesn't use an app bar or pivots in the initial screen.
However once you tap on the first map orb or the first filtering circle, everything else slowly falls into place. It does take a bit more exploration to discover every little feature of the app, which may be an obstacle to users during their first use. Eventually, you are rewarded by the app's learning curve with a powerful filtering and searching ability at your fingertips.
+ Interactive map with live filtering
+ Lots of detailed hotel information
|The Not Good:|
- Learning curve
- Sluggish pinch-to-zoom in map
5 out of 5
Hotel Finder might confuse at first, but the powerful interface makes it the perfect vacation companion.
If your vacation days have stacked up in the last few months and you have every intent to use them, download Hotel Finder before you catch that flight. You can pick it up from the Windows Phone Store for free by clicking on the tile or link below. Alternatively, you can scan the QR code using Bing Vision on your Windows Phone.
by Melon Mobile LLC