Version Reviewed: 1.1
iPhone Integration Rating:
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Etsy is a pretty amazing website. A sort of online community market where people buy and sell handmade things, it has a lot of fans and is the platform of choice for a number of talented artists. Recently, Etsy challenged developers to use their APIs in the Etsy Handmade Code contest, and Etsy Lovers was one of the winners.
Etsy Lovers trumpets that it's the "most comprehensive app for browsing Etsy." That may well be true. Etsy Lovers emulates the main Etsy website, and presents items through three tabs: Home, which displays recently added items; Browse; and Featured. The Browse tab contains the real meat of this app, with options to view items by category, color, tag, or material as well as the ability to search through curated Etsy "treasuries." For a focused search, the Advanced Search option is very precise, with fields for tags, materials, price, and even location. Each page of items is displayed as a grid of tiles, with item photographs given prominence and price and name displayed below each photo.
There are many ways to search for things with Etsy Lovers, but of course the real draw comes from finding that special something. Tapping on an item brings up a more detailed view, with a description, detailed pricing, extra photos, and all the other extras normally shown on an Etsy page—other items from the seller, for example, and the option to share an item via Facebook, Twitter, or email. It's a lot of fun to just flick through the listings and explore different items on the site.
Unfortunately, buying items through Etsy Lovers is still impossible. Items can be added to wishlists, but there's no way to actually purchase that awesome necklace. Additionally, Etsy sellers are supposed to be able to log in and be able to update shop orders, update messages on buyers' orders, and edit listings from the app. However, as I'm not an Etsy seller, I was unable to test these features.
Overall, the experience presented by Etsy Lovers is good...but only when it works. I experienced occasional crashes as well as general lag. There are very few things more frustrating than having discovered the perfect gift only to be booted back to the home screen. On the other hand, when Etsy Lovers works, it's a lot of fun; in many ways it captures the experience of browsing on Etsy's real site, though some features are missing. (Trying to actually use the Etsy website from mobile Safari, meanwhile, is a huge pain.) So, for Etsy diehards who love browsing, or sellers who need to check their stores on the go, Etsy Lovers is a decent app. Just be aware that you can't actually purchase items, and that the app may crash.