Yeah, there’s an app for that! With the Miami International Boat Show looming large on the horizon, we thought we’d give the Progressive Miami Boat Show app a trial run. (Note: turns out the native app is only available for Apple devices. If you have an Android device, point your phone’s browser to m.miamiboatshow.com for the mobile website – edited 2/9/12). Like many of you reading this, we’re huge boat show fans and we’re looking forward to the Miami event. We face the same challenge you do: how can we navigate such a massive boat show effectively and make sure we have an opportunity to see all the things and visit all the folks we have on our to-do list?
Can the Miami Boat Show app for the iPhone help address that challenge? After putting the app through its paces, we’d have to say the jury is still out. The app offers the following main categories of information:
- Show Info – Show locations with complete physical addresses, show dates and times, general info on shuttles and water taxis
- Exhibitors– List of all exhibitors arranged by categories of product and service
- Boats– List of all boats at the show arranged by categories
- Seminars – Overview of all seminars with time, location, topic, and speakers
- Parking – General info on parking locations and prices with a link to a parking website that doesn’t seem optimized for mobile devices
- Tickets – We weren’t sure what this section does
- Miami Info – Lists of hotels, restaurants, nightlife, and other local venues with phone numbers and addresses and a link to Google maps that offers directions
We went through each one, and, again, like many of you, have a few thoughts.
Exhibitors are tagged with words related to their product or service. A search for radar or sail, for example, returns a list of exhibitors who are tagged with that content. You can also enter brand names, such as Edgewater or Catalina to get a list of the relevant exhibitors. This is a handy feature when you’re looking for specific items, but you don’t know the names of the exhibitors offering them.
The search function doesn’t seem to work for seminar speakers however. For example, we searched for John Kretschmer, the well-traveled sailor, offshore trainer, and author. Even though his name appears several times in the list of seminar speakers, the search result came up empty (and yes, we double-checked the spelling!).
We searched for all boats in the category Downeast. From the resulting list, we chose one of the Sabre boats and by clicking on the information got a nice picture of the boat. This allows us to do some shopping before even getting to the show (we like boat shopping!!) and narrow down the boats that we really want to see up close and personal. You can also choose the “Share” button when you’ve found a boat that you want to share with a friend. You can only share the image via a text message though, not via email.
The maps of the various show sites are small and, for some unknown reason, we couldn’t find a way to resize them on the iPhone. We can’t pinch them and zoom in or find a way to make them readable. The press release announcing the app stated that you could zoom in on the maps, but we couldn’t make it happen. If anyone out their knows something we don’t, please fill us in!
There doesn’t appear to be any integration between the exhibitor info page and the map locator. You can search for an exhibitor and drill down to the page that shows their location at the show, but all we got was a static booth or location number. We couldn’t click on the location and view the spot on the map where the booth or display is located. With no integration between location number and map, we might as well just use the old hardcopy show manual to find our way around.
Again, we may be doing something wrong, so if anyone else has cracked the code on this, let us know!
That’s our quick overview of the Miami Boat Show app. We’ll definitely bring it along to the show, but we’re going to pick up a printed show guide too. Good luck to everyone who’s headed out to Miami next week. Enjoy the show and don’t get lost! If you end up buying something or finding a marine provider that you can’t wait to recommend to others, we welcome you to visit us on the Virtual Dockside and write your review!