Let us be clear upfront, there is no official IRCTC (Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation)application available for the mobile phones as of now.
The Mobile Indian had earlier reported about the official IRCTC app but so far not even beta has materialised. Having said that, there are number of IRCTC Mobile Apps in the Google Play Store submitted by third party developers and we found the one of them fairly functional.
The IRCTC Mobile App developed by BRS, has done a commendable job to make a decent app available in the Google Play Store for free.
The IRCTC Mobile App is basically a jacket over the web based interface packed inside but presented in a better format. The app requires a working data connection to fetch any sort of data. If you look at the size of the App, it is less than half megabyte!
Straight options are available when the app is loaded- Book Tickets, Check PNR Status, Live Status & Timetable and Search Trains.
Out of these four, the Book Tickets options will require an IRCTC account to perform the transactions. There is no in-app payment option to complete the transition and will be send to IRCTC Mobile website for completing the same.
Similar to desktop experience, logging in the IRCTC account takes long time unless you are lucky enough to get it in one click.
Without that one can’t simply proceed to check out the available trains for booking the seats. Once you get through, then the layout to choose options inadvertently guides the user to enter information. One odd part is that the information layout requires the user to feed in Station Names and then tap the “Get Code” button to get the Station Code. For instance, Mumbai Central’s Station Code is BCT.
Furthermore, the users can select the Ticket class, feed in the travel date, chose the quota and then choose the ticket type. These options are so tightly placed that one has to be really careful while choosing them. For the developer, bigger information boxes and option choices offering layout should certainly be considered while planning a revamp. It would be easier to select even in a moving bus. The app takes lot of time in fetching data about availability of the seats and checking out trains in the list is as cumbersome process.
Checking PNR status is a breeze where in the user gets need to pin in the PNR number to see all information about the train number, date of travel and ticket status. The Live Train Status helps fetching live details about the trains running and the stations functional. This section also offers train time-table which can be really useful to plan the travel instead of wasting time in the “Book Tickets” section.
Search trains is an option where the user can search about the trains running between specific stations. Alternative, they can enter the train number or just feed in the station name to see which trains stop there.
Expect for the network specific requirements, the app is just fine for the regular usage. However, looking at the quality of Apps available, the developer should consider using the Holo User Interface Design Guidelines to make the app faster, lighter and more responsive.
The app just works fine in fetching the required information but the tools to customise the options appear very cramped up. A functional third party app is much better than the totally absconding official IRCTC App for the Android devices.
We would recommend using this app only to seek information and checking the availability of seats in the trains. The biggest bug in the app is the date selection, while going through the Book Tickets options.
Despite of entering the date manually, it does not show results of the trains for the respective date. We recommend waiting for the official app for more options such as checking the TDR and other account related options.