eBay for iPhone now out of the box

When the native eBay app for iPhone was demoed at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco in June, Webware.com Editor Josh Lowensohn commended it for its slickness, storage capacity, and winning looks. The eBay for iPhone application is indeed easy on the eye and similar in look and feel to eBay Desktop that runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux on the AIR platform. At least the home screen is.

After that, the application might as well be considered eBay Light. You can quickly take in an overview of your personal stats on the home screen to see how many items you're watching, winning, outbidding, and so on. Drilling deeper takes you to the My eBay screen, which is tabbed to show greater detail about the items you're watching, buying, and selling. There's also a separate search screen for browsing and reading listings descriptions.

eBay for iPhone demo

However, unlike the eBay Desktop and eBay.com, eBay's iPhone app has been stripped of browsing categories and ways for sellers to add or amend input on auction items. This app is strictly for bidding and viewing purposes.

And that's too bad. While limiting the onscreen activities admittedly keeps the application from paralyzing users with choice, it also keeps it from being as useful as it could be. Imagine wanting to add another photo of your sale piece directly from your iPhone, or want to lower the price of a not-so-hot item while waiting to board a plane? And here's a crazy thought--why not clip in to that GPS capability to show users any listed sale items nearby, an estate sale in the neighborhood, for instance?

While the app definitely has its uses as a tracking and bidding tool, I really had expected more iPhone integration from eBay, and at the very least, the visually appealing wrapper from the home screen to carry over into the other views.

Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices.