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App Review - Bestival


You might be a little bit confused by that title, but worry not, Rob Da Bank's much praised, eclectic music festival on the Isle of Wight has not been somehow assimilated into an app. Instead, this year the festival runners unveiled a dedicated app which was designed to help festival-goers navigate their way around the sprawling, 60,000 strong extravaganza. It's far from the first festival to do this, but rarely at Social Songbird do we get an opportunity to 'field test' an app like this. Happily in this instance, since I actually went to Bestival, we can. Woooo!

This will kind of act as a more general review of festival apps in some ways, since a lot of others do the same basic job as this one. That job, or primary function, is to help you keep track of all the acts so that you don't miss out on anything you really wanted to see. What's cool about the Bestival app is that it actually became useful before I even reached the festival site. The first feature you see when you open the app is the 'discover' feature, which throws up a randomly generated list of acts and things to see. Tapping any of them links you out to general information about them, as well as a Spotify link so you can see if it's up your alley.

Using this function, people could research what to see and do long before the festival kicked off. I already had a pretty solid plan, so the app didn't feed much into it, but it was still a useful feature. What was more useful was that you could scroll through the artists and favourite them, and once you got to the site, you would be notified 15 minutes before that act came on, as well as where they were playing. This turned out to be an invaluable feature, as when you're just wondering around the site, it can be easy to lose track of time. 

On a more basic level, and in aid of the above feature, the app enabled you to scroll through the set times either generally or by venue. It also included a detailed site map. Both of these functions are usually covered by a paper guide which you buy on site, but this did the job far better. The final feature it boasted was a social media feed for Bestival's Twitter, Facebook and Instagram feeds, to help people keep an eye on important news like act cancellations, time changes, weather updates and drug warnings.

This is where we reach the elephant in the room - it's an app, so it needs a working phone. One of the most inevitable things to happen at any festival, typically, is either loss of signal, phone death, or both. The average battery life of a smart phone could not hope to stretch to 4 or 5 days, even if you turn cellular data off, turn the brightness down and close most of the apps. So surely then the app's usefulness was limited to how long you kept your phone on. Indeed it was, but that wasn't as grand of an issue as you might have thought

The acts and timings functions both worked offline, provided the app updated on the Thursday morning and Bestival had an almost limitless supply of Volt portable chargers specifically for the festival. You could buy one, charge your phone with it and then swap it out for a fresh one once it ran out of juice. I didn't need one, happily, because a friend had brought a meatier, better charging dock, but for everyone else it was a godsend. 

Keeping phones active during festivals is becoming more the norm and while the Bestival app was good, it could have boasted more functions. There are plenty of other clever little festival apps out there to help people along though. Tent Finder enables you to tag your tent after you've put it up so you don't have to stumble over guide ropes at 5 in the morning desperately peering through the dark to find yours (I could have really used that one), Battery Doctor keeps track of your charge to help you keep your phone alive for as long as possible and the magnificent Find my Friends uses mapping and GPS to pinpoint the exact location of your wayward pals

Even social media can be useful during festivals, as I discovered. On Saturday morning I realised that at some point during the previous night, I'd lost my wallet. Suffice to say I wasn't best pleased, and spent the remainder of the festival trudging over to lost and found to see if it had turned up (asking for it was interesting, considering it's a Pulp Fiction wallet with a certain obscenity written on the front), but to no avail. If I had ever relinquished my traditional festival Facebook blackout, I'd have seen a friend request and a series of messages from the girl who found it, and likely been reunited with it straight away, rather than when I got home. Take heed, everyone. 

Oh, the actual festival? Yeah it was pretty much incredible. It boasted one of the strongest lineups in all of its impressive history. Personal highlights included Mala, Roni Size, Jungle, Jurassic 5, The Chemical Borthers, Andreya Triana and Flying Lotus. I didn't see Duran Duran, I should not have to explain why. Anyway, the app proved extremely useful, and festivals would be wise to build bigger, more comprehensive apps for future events. It's the way forward.

All things considered, we give the Bestival app a Songbird Rating of 4 stars out of 5!

Callum Davies

Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF

Contact us on Twitter, on Facebook, or leave your comments below. To find out about social media training or management why not take a look at our website for more info http://socialmediacambridge.co.uk/.
App Review - Bestival Reviewed by Unknown on Wednesday, September 16, 2015 Rating: 5

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