It is the season of mobile apps. A consumer’s best friend and the primary device for work and entertainment, every brand/company is launching its own mobile app, in the hope that the consumer will download it. Should every brand have a mobile app is altogether a different discussion but some apps definitely make it to the list of must-have apps on your mobile.
Booking online railway reservation tickets is one such activity that a common man can’t avoid and at the same time has been frustrated with the service IRCTC has provided in the past. Fortunately, things have improved from the last meme depicting the wrath of a common man booking a ticket online.
Earlier this year during the Railway Budget the Minister of Railways, Pawan Kumar Bansal, had said that, by the end of this year, India’s railway ticketing website will undergo a major overhaul to support booking of 3 times more number of tickets per minute and 6 times more number of simultaneous users. IRCTC at an average is booking around 4 lakh tickets a day.
Building a mobile app for booking tickets has also been on the itinerary list; first we saw a Windows app being built and recently an Android app was launched. A little strange why Android wasn’t the first choice given the dominance of the mobile OS in India.
Nevertheless, the Android launch garnered much needed attention from the online media and techies on social media. A regular traveler with Indian Railways with a childhood affection to the world’s largest public sector company, I downloaded the app to check out its execution.
Once the download is done, you get the below login screen of the app, developed by BroadVision. I have an IRCTC account created so my log in time was in a flash of a second; click on Register to create your much required IRCTC account. The below screen grab gives you the snapshot of the login and register options.
Once you are in the app, you come to the below screen – New Booking. I tried booking an online ticket via the General quota around 12:30 PM today and the execution wasn’t disappointing at all. Once you select the required details, on hitting the nice big pink color search button, the app pulls out the desired list of train details under the feature Train List.
Train List feature also showcases features like Route Map and Fare Breakup for a particular train.
Select the train and check the availability; tap on if you like the choice and you are taken to the Add Passenger. First time the app requires all the details, next time it remembers the user choice while uploading passenger details. Hit the Book button to proceed further for payment options.
Payment, the last leg of booking the ticket, also gives you a smooth experience. Enter the captcha details and hit make payment. Once you do that you are on the Payment screen with Credit, Debit Card and Net Banking payment options. The below screen grab gives a quick look of the payment feature.
That’s pretty much what the mobile app is all about and in fact that is what we majorly do on the IRCTC portal too. Tap on the extreme left corner next to the logo and you get some more useful details of your activities. My Bookings and Cancelling a ticket are two interesting features but they don’t sync your web activities so for now it will only show the mobile activities. Syncing should be a must to make this app more useful. Tap on the My Profile to make any changes you want to.
Should you download the app?
Yes! The IRCTC Connect Android app should be on your mobile not only because it solves a big purpose but also because of the neat and smooth experience it provides. The app had no glitches so far and I could perform the main operation – Booking a ticket without much of a hassle.
While it is a government app, there hasn’t been any problem in the features and full marks on the design and user experience. Quite a relief to see such an app innovation from IRCTC which has always been the butt of jokes on the internet. But why is it running ads on the app? For a government app, ads are really cheap and should be done away with.
The app has few shortcomings however – 1. It is not able to store your password even after specifying, 2. The web sync of activities on mobile is not possible right now, and 3. the app is not available from 8 AM -12 PM. These are common problems that are also being raised by users on the Play Store, hopefully these should be taken care in the future roll out.
Nevertheless, this is a much required app and the first version doesn’t disappoint me. I am going to keep this app on my mobile, let me know if you would do the same. Give it a try and do share your experience about the app.