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There's an old saw that says you should never hold a garage sale on Memorial Day or Labor Day weekend. There's a new one that says watch out for your kidneys if you buy anything on Craigslist. That last one's really just an urban legend, but Craigslist has made our garage sale shopping and selling less dependent on calendars, except there's no mobile version of their site and we find the design makes our head hurt. If only there were an app that could make Craigslist a joy, we'd buy that for a dollar.
If you venture into the App Store with Craigslist on your mind chances are you will run into Escargot Studios, LLC. All told they sell 9 versions of the essentially same app, three for the iPad and the remaining six for the iPhone, including Craigslist Mobile Ultimate. The three iPad versions of their app, Craigslist for iPad, Craigslist Pro for iPad, and CraigsPro+ for iPad start at free and increase in price and in offerings. All three will let you perform basic searches and post to Craigslist itself, and if you're just a casual searcher, the free app will more than adequately fill your needs.
Whether you use the free or paid versions, the iPad apps open to the Search/Browse home page. When you click on a search, you will be prompted first and foremost to you select your location. A popover will let you choose between adding cities manually or letting GPS autolocate you. We didn't find any limit on how many cities we could add.
That orangey RSS looking button is for notifications
Type in your search at the top and the apps go to work scouring your locations and your search terms. The apps default to "For Sale," though you can pick a different category such as Personals, Resumes, Housing, Jobs and more.
At the top of the iPad apps are four buttons to take you to your Home screen, save your search, give you a map view of your listings, or switch from a list view of postings to a much more appealing wall of photos. Across the bottom on the home screen are three or four buttons depending on your version. In the $0.99 version, the fourth button, Alerts, does nothing but prompt you to buy CraigsPro+.
Lots of deals including pictures
In that $1.99 version of the app, you are spotted 50 notifications for the Search Agent feature. With Search Agents selected, the app continues searching for items you are interested in, long after you close CraigsPro+. When it finds something matching your criteria, it shoots a push notification your way. If you're a champion Craigslist shopper or searcher, then this can be a great way of keeping track of your items. Notification packs come in additional allotments of 100 ($0.99), 500 ($2.99), and 10,000 ($9.99).
The wall of photos makes finding what you want easier
Posting was simple enough. Tap the bullhorn icon on the home screen, sign in with your Craigslist credentials, tap the category where you want to post (and subcategory), then fill out the table fields. Tap the photo button to include a picture, then tap post. From the post page you can also access your previous postings on the site by tapping Account Management.
Posting was as easy as 1, 2, 2.5, 2.75, 3
From a GUI perspective on the iPad, something feels decidedly off about these apps. The buttons are chunky and give off a distinctly "Windows" vibe. Only in Craigslist Mobile Ultimate, the iPhone iteration of their various versions, do Escargot's cartoonish tappables feel natural. That app, running $1.99, also comes with the 50 Search Agent notifications, and a simple set of buttons, cleaner and more Apple-like.
Not beautiful, but it does the trick
Use in all versions was very easy and even a minor improvement over the Craigslist interface is a pleasant change of pace, but something about Escargot Studios' shotgun approach to Craigslist apps leaves us feeling a bit shady, much like Craigslist itself.
Hoping to slice off a piece of that Craigslist pie from Escargot, YYH Creative tosses out this very stripped down free number, Craigslist Mobile. Tap for location, but then tap through screen after screen after screen to nail down your precise city or region, as GPS is not baked in. Back at the home page, tap the category button to choose from which group of items you wish to search, then type your keywords in the Search box.
Lay down when you buy, lay down when you ride
There is no photo view like in the Escargot apps, but the list suffices. In each posting, you are presented with one thumbnail if the post has it, a price in an orange box, a location (such as suburb of a city), and the date of posting. Tap the posting and the reskinning of the Craigslist site looks not too dissimilar to the iPhone's email.
Is this email?
Four buttons run along the bottom of the individual post page allowing you to see the original posting as it appears teeny tiny on the Craigslist site, a star to bookmark the posting for later consideration, a right pointing curved arrow to reply to the poster, and a right pointing arrow coming out of a box that does exactly the same thing. However, if the post has a phone number, the left pointing arrow will also give you the option of calling the digits provided.
One way or another, buy a bike
From the home page, you also have the option of setting certain search parameters (such as price or only posts with images), quick access to posts you've favorited, and an option to post to Craigslist. Again, like the others benefiting from Craigslist's stripped down interface, sign in is a matter of entering your credentials. From there you tap to the category and subcategory, and then you fill out the description fields. Tap add a picture to do just that, then the big blue post button will send you on your way.
Here, too, posting is a snap
As simple as Craigslist itself. And just the same price.
Lifelike Apps, Inc. spent all their money on designing a radiant universal app, so clearly came up short when it came time to name their beauty. Craigslist App? Seriously? Despite this clunker of a title, we couldn't even go back and look at the other apps once we feasted our eyes on this one.
Now that's a pretty looking app
Taking a cue from the way Early Edition and Pulp took RSS feeds and created a customized newspaper layout for those stripped down stories, Lifelike Apps turned Craigslist back into what it gutted: the classified section of your local newspaper. It even says "Classified" across the top when you fire this baby up. In the iPhone version all the subcategories are tucked inside the large top level categories.
A little more tapping here, but no biggie
In the iPad, the developers took advantage of the big screen to give us everything laid out in six newspaper columns (in landscape, four in profile) even adding newsprinty shading to the category headers. Tap a subsection here and the page folds back to give you columns of scrollable choices. Each posting has a picture (if the original does), location, price, and time posted. In landscape, tap the posting and the ad opens in a two pane page. The actual ad in the larger right hand side and a column of all the other posts in this section in a smaller, scrollable left hand column. In profile, this smaller pane is tucked up under the button "Classifieds."
A nice way to scroll through the ads
You can star these favorites but if you're pressed for time, Lifelike is true to their name. Draw a circle around the posting with your finger, and a red marker oval appears around it, just like you used to do back in the newspaper classified section days. Run your finger back and forth, and the listing is scratched out. Or you can tap and hold on a post and a little menu button appears with the option to Favorite or Cross Off. These are most helpful on the iPhone, which didn't allow us to circle by hand.
The handwriting element is a nice touch, a very nice touch
Type your searches in the search box, but don't worry about your location. This app finds your location at the beginning, then sets you up where you are. Tap on your location named at the app's top bar to bring up the screen for adding more places to your search. This is located at the top of the iPad and down on the Location button at the bottom of the screen for the iPhone. Both versions put their control buttons in a classy woodgrain toolbar.
Selling off everything but my contributor copies
From these buttons, you can quick acess your favorites, alter font sizes, access help and settings as well as your saved searches, and post to your Craigslist account. There is little to differentiate Craigslist App from the others at the posting stage, though the wrapper put around this part of the site is by far the most Apple-centric of the three.
This one is no contest. Not even close. Lifelike blows the competition out of the water with a low cost, universal app that is just drop dead gorgeous and easy to use, with features we love and an implementation second to none. We adore the app's retro throwback design plus the ability to cross things off and circle ads we like bring a sweet functionality others would do well to copy. We weren't big Craigslisters before, but with an app like this, it's easy to see how we could start.