For the record, we visited the Mall of America on the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend. This is the third year in a row that we’ve done this. Getting there early
assured us a decent parking spot and we arrived about 25 minutes after the Mall opened. We were there about 6 hours and managed to pick up several Christmas gifts for family and friends. However, for what was accomplished, we should’ve been able to do it in a couple hours or less. While we were there I downloaded a two iPhone apps for the Mall that I thought would help us get our shopping done more efficiently. I’ll let you know what I think of the 2 apps I found and invite you to comment. Maybe you know a better MOA app or you’ve tried one or both of these app’s yourself and have an idea on how to improve them.
This year was a little different as Lisa needed a wheelchair to get around due to her broken foot, and I was in charge of pushing her chair. We both have a new appreciation for the struggles of moving around a mall using a wheelchair. So I thought using a MOA iPhone App might help a little bit by showing us the easiest way to move from one location to the next. We had a list with some ideas of gifts to buy, but once inside the Mall, the size of the building makes it difficult to know which way to go to find stores. The Mall has plenty of maps scattered throughout main intersections on every level. But my experience is that once you’ve found a map and located your destination, inevitably it’s on the exact opposite end of the Mall. Then when you’re ready to move to the next item, you learn the next store you need is back where you started.
I tend to create shopping patterns at big box retailers and grocery stores to minimize my time and effort. So I really wanted a phone app that would help me figure out how to get in and manoever through the Mall efficiently. Neither app came close to helping minimize time or effort, there is a lot of room for improvement. Perhaps no one at the Mall wants people to shop efficiently…kind of like Casinos that don’t have windows or clocks visible. Maybe if you lose track of time, you stick around and spend more.
Official “Mall of America” App: by Ximarc Studios Inc.
This is a super disappointing app. Here are its main features taken directly from the app About/Help screen:
- Takes you to the mall Map screen where you can view a graphical layout of each floor.
- Takes you to the Retail Listings screen where all the store names can be viewed alphabetically or by category.
- Takes you to the Favorites screen where you can view, add or remove your selection of favorite stores.
The only labels on the graphical layout of each floor on the map are Nickelodeon Universe and the 4 corner anchor stores. It doesn’t even tell you compass directions even though the Mall itself is marked that way. The maps don’t make use of the phone’s GPS capability so you can’t see where you are in relation to even the 5 labels they provide. The retail listings make use of the alpha listings like the phone’s built-in Contacts app and can be resorted by store category. Unfortunately, you have to toggle back to the home screen to jump to each app function.
After selecting a store from the list, a photo of the store is displayed with its phone number and web address. You can touch the web address and open up the store web page, but you can’t select the phone number and auto-dial the store. I expected to be able to see the store location highlight on the map, but it doesn’t even tell you where in the Mall the store is located. You can save your favorite stores to a separate page, however, unless it can tell me where I am in relation to where the store is, then it’s pretty worthless to me.
MegaMall MN 2 app: by Twistbyte LLC
This is a better app than the official MOA app. You can access the main features of the app directly from the map versus having to toggle back to a home screen.The map is oriented properly with the portrait view of the phone. There are compass directions on the map as well as the 4 anchor stores and Nikelodeon Universe. You can toggle on the locations of restrooms, mark and save favorites from the map, toggle to your current location by selecting a store name from the list and it will show you where you are on the map. It also has a built in compass, but the compass isn’t really useful. It would be much better to utilize the GPS capabilities of the iPhone. You can pick a store and toggle to store information, but photos of the store are not yet loaded into the database, however at least a store address (e.g. E260) is provided so at least you can tell which compass direction to search.
The stores web sites are not provided, however you can press a Phone icon and dial the store directly or save it as a favorite. By picking a current location and then selecting store info for your next location, you can see where you are in relation to where you want to go (current location = blue dot, next Store Location = red dot). That’s as close as you get to seeing yourself actually move across the screen. The store list also uses the alpha listing like the built in Contacts, however they also allow you to filter by category, compass location and/or floor. That’s a nice touch. This app also provides mall hours, a list of the day’s special MOA
Events that pops up event details by selecting the event, the ability to create your shopping list (and with the iPhone 4S I can use Siri to speak my list versus typing it in). Finally, there is a “Deals” tab, but so far I haven’t seen anything listed there. Considering we were there during the Thanksgiving 2 day sale, I would expect the “Deals” tab to be full. My assumption is the Deals section is a future capability that hasn’t been fully implemented.
The other obvious options to add to either app would be the ability to toggle on elevator and escalator locations. The elevator locations are especially useful for disabled guests who rely on them to move from floor to floor. The other option would be to include maps of the parking garages and the ability to mark and save your car location to a garage map so you don’t have to remember where you parked. Enabling GPS on this app would also help you with relocating your car.
If you’ve used these apps or know of other ones that are better, please comment as we’d love to hear your thoughts!