Ratings for App Functionality: Who Made the Top Grade?
McPheters & Co. ranks some of the best (and worst) mag apps on the market.
Nothing turns a tech user off faster than system malfunctions. In the arms race the app market has shaped up to be, publishers are debuting their offerings as quickly as they can produce them. Unfortunately, this often does not leave time to work out the final kinks of download issues, faulty links and stalled videos. In an attempt to inform users and advertisers of the best (and worst) magazine apps available, consulting and research business McPheters & Company has created the iMonitor Certification program.
According to a press release from McPheters, about 40 percent of apps “have significant malfunctions”; and the iMonitor Certification is looking to award the other 60 percent for their good behavior. iMonitor subscriber apps are automatically included in the testing system, and other apps wishing to get certified must submit their products. Subscription prices for iMonitor (which grants users access to the full database of detailed app ratings) vary per company. For a non-subscribing company to submit an app for rating, it costs $4,500 to receive a full report and possible certification.
iMonitor ranks app performance in four categories: app design, and how easily navigable the app is; media performance, including video and other rich elements; functionality; and advertising. According to Rebecca McPheters, founder of McPheters & Company, the advertising grade is not integrated into the app’s rating. She notes publishers’ lesser control of advertising design as partial reason to exclude this grade as part of the overall app performance.
After submission, apps are tested against McPheters’ evaluation system by a team of 5 to 6 staff. If the app becomes iMonitor certified (which requires performance without malfunction and ranking in the top 20 percent of reviewed apps), it is then awarded a star rating based on a scale between 10.5 and 14+. Currently, over 3,000 apps have been evaluated through the iMonitor system.
For those who pass the certification, iMonitor awards the app a Certified symbol for 12 months. During that year, apps are continually retested after updates; if they slip under rating expectations, the symbol will be pulled from the app. If apps improve, iMonitor will grant the app a higher rating.
Who made the top grade, according to iMonitor? See a partial list of the top performing 20 percent of reviewed apps below.
Five Yellow Stars (which signifies the program’s highest ranking):
1. Allure (Conde Nast)
2. Elle (Hearst)
3. WIRED (Conde Nast)
4. Alpha Magazine (News Corp)
5. Gourmet Live (Conde Nast)
One Black Star (though still certified, this represents the lowest starred ranking in iMonitor’s grading system):
1. Conde Nast Traveler
2. GeoBee Challenge HD by National Geographic
3. Celebrate the Holidays with Better Homes and Gardens (Meredith)
4. Ultimate Dinopedia: The Most Complete Dinosaur Reference Ever (National Geographic Society)
5. Science Illustrated (Bonnier)