Welcome to What’s App-ening, your weekly source for the latest and greatest in mobile apps.
If you’re on Facebook (I know, humor me), chances are you’ve already seen the advertisements for this week’s app.
The ad is a Facebook video that features iMessage style text bubbles scrolling up across the screen, telling a mildly interesting story and then cutting off on a cliffhanger.
Ring a bell?
Yep, this week’s app is HOOKED.
The app is free to download, and it tries to hook users right away.
There’s no sign up screen, no tutorial, just a white screen that says ‘tap anywhere to continue reading’ and features a vague text message from a girl named Tiffany asking, “Do you hear that?”
Due to the lack of tutorial, it is insanely easy to tap through part of this story only to have it cut off exactly where the Facebook ad does.
A pop-up interrupts the user’s reading to inform them that they have run out of hoots and that the hoots will recharge in 36 minutes.
This raises a couple of concerns for me.
The app never explained what hoots are or that they even existed in the first place.
Deductive reasoning concludes that they must be clicks through a story, but if that’s the case, users should be informed of this obviously important part of the app beforehand.
In fact, there isn’t, as far as I can tell, anywhere in the app that will tell users the number of hoots they have left or whether or not they recharge over time before users run out of them.
The only time you hear about hoots is when the countdown timer of when they will be restored pops up after you run out.
Additionally, from the initial pop up, users can request to speed up time and are directed to a screen that prompts them to pay for more hoots.
Users are left with a notification that they cannot connect to the app store, in my case even with all restrictions off and credit in my iTunes account.
Speaking of notifications, if you have the willpower to ration your hoots and you made the mistake of allowing notifications, the app will you send hourly updates from the most recent story you were clicking through.
Even if you could pay for the app, it is insanely overpriced.
By far the cheapest for a year is the $39.99 one-time payment, with the $7.99 monthly payment resulting in a yearly payment of $95 and the weekly $2.99 coming to $155 for a year.
All this, mind you, for an app comparable to Wattpad, as all but two stories are user made.
The two official stories have terrible dialogue and inconsistent plot development.
On top of this, the app lacks a decent interface.
Users have to swipe blindly in order to figure out how to navigate the app, and if you do manage to find the sidebar, the color choices clash with both each other and the rest of the app.
Overall, I give HOOKED one out of five stars for lack of a user interface, poorly written narratives and hiding those narratives behind a paywall that is more expensive than a National Geographic subscription.
HOOKED is free to download on the App Store and Google Play.
Oh, and if you were wondering what happened to Tiffany, turns out her Dad was having an affair with a woman named Jessica, and her Mom retaliated with murder. That should save you from wasting a few hours.
Thanks for reading, Wildcats, and until next Friday, you know What’s App-ening.