eBay is the world's biggest online auction house, so there can't be many of us who haven't used it at one time or another, whether to scoop a bargain or make a few extra quid in time for Christmas. We tried the site's official Android app for buying and selling, and were mightily impressed.
In fact, we'd go so far as to say it's more straightforward to use eBay via the Android app than it is the full-blown desktop site. eBay's My eBay menu structure isn't perhaps as intuitive as it could be in the desktop version, for instance, with it often taking several clicks to find items you've won or are selling under its various sub-menus. With the eBay mobile app, you can quickly find your items grouped under its Watching, Bidding, Won, Didn't win, Selling, Sold, Unsold and Scheduled tabs. See also: Best Android apps.
The Official eBay Android App Home screen has three large tabs, offering access to 'My eBay', where you monitor items you're buying or selling, 'Browse', which lets you find any item listed for sale on the site, and 'Sell an item'. Below this are links to Saved searches, Favourite sellers, Reminders (that you must pay for or dispatch an item, for example), Messages, Deals and Settings. The latter lets you set up notifications for such things as when a watched item is about to end, when a buyer wins your item, and when you're outbid on an auction. See also: Five of the best Android apps for shopping.
For searching eBay's catalogue you can use the Search bar at the top of the Home screen, or click on the Browse button to choose a particular category and, if necessary, sub-category. You can also scan a product's barcode to see if it's listed for sale on the site. We managed to find two copies of The New Oxford Dictionary of English by scanning the copy we had on our desk. Although you probably don't need a second copy, this feature is useful if you want to sell that item and need to know how much it's worth.
For switching between the Home, My eBay and Search menus you use your handset's Options button menu. This also offers access to a Help menu that answers frequently asked questions, Settings, and a Refresh button. We watched the items we were selling in My eBay during the last few minutes of each auction, and found that the time remaining automatically refreshed but the bid amount did not - the Refresh button is useful in such circumstances.
Pages load surprisingly fast, even over a 3G connection. This is despite the eBay app returning all its search results within a single scrollable screen. When you click on a specific item for further information, the first screen displays image thumbnails that you simply tap to view in full-screen mode, plus a summary of the auction information; a second screen shows the item specifics and description. You can contact the seller, view their feedback profile, place a bid and, if you're successful, even pay for the item via PayPal using the eBay mobile app.
The Sell an item menu uses eBay's basic auction builder to let you create a new listing, finish one you began previously, or revise an active item. It uses your handset's camera to let you add a picture, or you can browse to the file in the device's gallery. We found it simple to use in adding several new listings.
There are a few actions that can't be completed via the mobile app, however. We couldn't find a way to view our Account details, and pay the fees incurred for selling items via the site. And when one member bought three separate items from us, we were unable to find an option to send a combined invoice with reduced postage - in fact, we couldn't find a way to send an invoice at all. There's no option to report an item as unpaid; neither could we browse completed listings (unless we happened to be Watching them in My eBay).
Once you've sold an item on eBay, the mobile app lets you see the buyer's address details, leave them feedback, mark the item as dispatched and add a tracking number if you have one. You can also relist or sell a similar item, and share the auction via Bluetooth or email.
Official eBay Android App: Specs
- Android 2.1 or later
- Android 2.1 or later
The Official eBay Android App is far more straightforward to use than the desktop site, but some of the online auction house's more advanced functionality is missing. Even so, for day-to-day use in buying and selling, the Official eBay Android App gets our thumbs-up.