LinkedIn for iPad: Style over substance

August 8, 2013

On seeing that LinkedIn had recently updated its iPad app (free, iTunes), I made a note to include it as a possible selection for the weekly Best New iPad Apps.

I have used LinkedIn sporadically since launch, mainly for checking network updates and replying to messages, but a drilldown into other features made me realize just how limited the app really is.

The Good: Great content & slick user interface

Let’s start off with what you can do on LinkedIn which, as VentureBeat has previously detailed, is heavily based on HTML5 web technology.

As with the desktop version, you can view your profile, peruse network updates and see and respond to messages. You can also share an update, view groups or company updates and scroll down the neat vertical list for adding new contacts from the ‘people you may know' list.

There is also a handy box in 'Updates' and 'Profile' for detailing who has recently viewed your profile, which people have new connections and which companies you might want to follow. Notifications are stored in the ‘Messages’ section but will first display towards the bottom of whichever page you are on.

(Image: New notifications are displayed as pop-ups at the bottom of the screen)

There are other areas where LinkedIn for iPad excels too.

The app has a contemporary coral color scheme and everything is well-sized, from the thumbnail images to the text. Content, which is increasingly important to a social network which acquired news aggregator Pulse in April, is well spread out and very readable.

Swiping through updates feels more natural than the pull-down method on Facebook and the portability of Apple’s tablet means responding to mail is easier than on your PC.

In addition, adding new contacts is very fluid even if there isn’t much margin for error (I’ve accidentally added wrong contacts before because the screen is so packed with information) and you share updates with connections, Twitter accounts, or specific LinkedIn groups by touching the status bar in the top right corner.

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The Bad: New groups, endorsements & applying for jobs

But on the flipside, there are numerous annoyances.

You can access groups via the menu bar but there’s no option for adding new ones, and you can’t update your profile (which remains iPhone-only). And despite the recent update to version 6.1.1 — which apparently introduced a function for upgrading to Premium — LinkedIn officials confirmed that you can't do this on iPad either.

Furthermore, and unlike the desktop version of LinkedIn, you can’t write endorsements and there is no way to view LinkedIn’s content-rich ‘Influencers’ section.

Now all of these issues aren't that major, but one serious annoyance is the inability to apply for jobs — which is strange considering LinkedIn's push on recruitment.

LinkedIn confirmed that this functionality is still limited to the iPhone version, which is surprising considering most applicants would presumably want a larger screen to see all the details and avoid making any errors.

In summary, LinkedIn for iPad sees functionality comes second to design and that’s a shame, not least considering the number of business users who have iPads. We can only hope that the app improves over time.

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