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Craigslist first graced the Internet in 1995, and after exploding in popularity soon established itself as an online mainstay for the foreseeable future. 17 years on, and the service is still the number one choice for many when it comes to classified ads, services, personals and the occasional rant and rave.
Despite the trademark black-and-white simple design, Craigslist is not streamlined for mobile devices. This makes both browsing and posting classifieds a bit of a nightmare from your iPhone. Luckily, there’s an app (or three) for that.
Before We Begin
The three apps I’ve chosen are, in my experience (and according to favourable App Store reviews) the best ways of browsing Craigslist from an iPhone without spending money. Unfortunately nearly all of them have vague names, sometimes incorporating other names within them – making them hard to find.
In addition to a link to the App Store, I’ve noted the developer in brackets so you can check to make sure you’re grabbing the right version. Believe me – there are more Craigslist apps on the App Store than any of us will ever need.
Craigslist Free (Lifelike Apps Inc.)
Featuring a stylish presentation that really makes boring old Craigslist look exciting and easy to read, Craigslist Free is a highly capable CL solution for iPhone. The app mimics a daily newspaper’s classifieds in its design, an aesthetic choice which suits the service to a tee and provides some useful extra functionality.
Along the bottom of the screen are five tabs – Location (for choosing alternate cities, worldwide), Categories (for browsing), Favourites (limited to just two in the free version), Font (for changing text size quickly) and another menu called Post, etc for uploading an ad. Posting from the app is a relatively painless affair that’s possible with or without a CL account and comes complete with an image upload option.
Browsing adverts is as easy as you’d expect, and there are a few more tricks to help you on your way. In order to add a favourite, simply circle the classified with your fingers (as you would with a pen in a newspaper) or hide an advert altogether by scribbling it out. The limitation of only having two favourites makes this rather nice feature a bit useless, though you can hide as many ads as you like by scribbling.
My main complaint about this app is the image sizing. Pictures look great in an advertisement’s title, but once you’ve clicked the advert they’re relegated to tiny thumbnails afoot the screen. It would be nice to have tappable images that could be easily zoomed or even shared. Aside from the odd crash, this is all I can find to complain about. If you’d like to buy the paid version (no adverts, unlimited favourites) then you’ll find it here for $0.99.
Craigslist Mobile (YYH Creative)
Two different developers, two different apps, two very similar names. The first Craigslist Mobile on this list is an advert-supported app with all the functionality of the website. The presentation of this app isn’t quite as polished as the previous, but the classifieds are easy to read and the app comes with little in the way of limitations.
Three main tabs – search, favourites and post – separate the main functions and the whole process is kept very simple indeed. Searching through sub-categories is fast and painless thanks to the quick-access to the main sections on the right-hand side. Once tapped adverts are formatted very much like the iOS Mail app and easy to share or favourite using the bar along the foot of the screen.
Unlike Craigslist Free (above) photos seem a bit stretchier, often filling the width of the screen and providing a decent eye-full. If I had to pick a complaint it would be that perhaps the app is a bit dull to look at, and at times it feels like there’s just too much text on screen. That’s pretty much all I can think of for negatives, and I don’t even mind staring at a few ads considering the functionality provided.
Craigslist Mobile For iPhone (Escargot Studios, LLC)
Another full-blown browsing and posting client, Craigslist Mobile For iPhone is an ad-supported CL app with some interesting features. The app allows filtering of classifieds by parameters such as whether a photo is included, price range and sorting. Results are displayed tidily either in list view with text or via photos.
Classifieds are well-laid out, with large images and even an option to report the listing. It’s also easy to save or view an item on the map using the bar at the bottom of the screen. Posting to Craigslist is also included, though unfortunately the option to advertise without a CL account is absent. For those without an account there is an option to register in-app.
A few things have been niggling me whilst playing with Craigslist Mobile For iPhone and one is the constant, laborious reminders that I can purchase Craigslist Ultimate for extra features – I just don’t care, I’m not going to buy it (certainly not after being constant told to do so). The other is the fact that functions are displayed above searches that require another app to be purchased (Craigslist Ultimate again) in order to use.
It’s quite tough to choose between these apps, as each has its own quirks and drawbacks. The first (Craigslist Free) is hands-down the best looking of the bunch, its iBooks-esque approach and newspaper design is eye catching and pleasant to read. The second app (Craigslist Mobile) is unrestricted, fairly plain and entirely functional whereas the final app on the list draws the line somewhere between the two.
Let us know what you think, which you prefer or if there are any other Craigslist applications that you swear by in the comments, below.