Cigar Boss (app review)

I had hoped to post my recently-recorded interview with Pete Johnson during my regularly scheduled slot this week, but connectivity issues are currently preventing me from uploading the HD video. It’s coming soon though, hopefully by the end of the week. In the meantime, I’ve got another cigar-related app review for you: Cigar Boss for iOS.

While the previous app I reviewed, Cigar Smoker, focused on cigar news & reviews and photo sharing, Cigar Boss is designed to provide users with cigar information on the go (such as deep inside a walk-in retail humidor, which network signals often fail to penetrate), as well as help you discover local cigar shops. Like many other iPhone apps, Cigar Boss comes in both an ad-supported free version and an ad-free paid version, though the content provided by both is identical.

Cigar Boss by the numbers…
Developer: Sonny Westmoreland Jr. Designs
Platform: iOS
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad; requires iOS 3.0 or later
Updated: Sept. 1, 2011 (version 1.1)
Source: free download
Price: Free (ad-supported) or $2.99 (ad-free Pro version)
App Store: iTunes Link
Twitter: @cigar_boss_app
Website: www.cigarbossapp.com

This first time you launch Cigar Boss, it seems to take quite a while to download information for the ~7000 or so cigars in its database. Once everything is loaded & cached on the device, the home screen provides you with several options to choose from, including looking up information for individual cigars, locating B&M retail cigar stores, and keeping track of your favorite cigars & shops.

The big list of cigar brands contains thousands of individual cigars from the most popular premium manufacturers. You can scroll through the alphabetized list of cigar lines until you find one you’re interested in; tapping on an item will bring up a list of various offerings & vitolas in that range. Upon making a specific selection, Cigar Boss presents the vital statistics for that particular cigar (including size, strength, wrapper type, and price), along with a short description and links to reviews from several different cigar blogs (launched in Mobile Safari), if available. If you like, you can also filter the cigar list according to various attributes, including strength, price, ring gauge, and country of origin.

  

Cigar Boss also contains a facility for finding cigar shops close to your current location or near arbitrarily defined spots on a world map. By simply moving the map to the area you’re interested in searching and then tapping “Find Shops,” the app drops pins indicating the location of nearby retailers.

 

Once you’ve found your favorite cigars and B&M shops, you can then assign them a rating on a scale of one to five stars, which also automatically adds these selections to lists that are displayed on the Favorites page for easy reference.

 

I really appreciate the idea behind the Cigar Boss app, but there are some serious limitations currently preventing it from realizing its full potential. Although extensive, the cigar list is noticeably incomplete, and some of what its missing is truly puzzling. For example, the CAO OSA Sol is listed, but not La Casita Criolla, even though these were released around the same time. CAO’s La Traviata is also missing, despite the fact that it’s been on the market for quite a bit longer than the OSA Sol.

The operation of the finding local shops function is also a bit peculiar. For one thing, I had to zoom almost all the way in to the map until my own local tobacconist (arguably the largest in the area) popped-up on the map. Address and contact information is only provided for “preferred” shops (i.e., paid advertisers), meaning the overwhelming majority of listings are simply rendered as un-clickable pins on the map which you can’t even add to your favorites list. This feature also isn’t integrated very well into the iOS Maps application which would make getting driving directions, etc. much easier.

The implementation needs a bit of work in order for the app to really shine. The iOS App Store listing for Cigar Boss promises a “major update” in the next few weeks which will hopefully address some of these present shortcomings.

About Charlie:
Charlie has been enjoying cigars since 2000 and generally prefers a medium-bodied, full-flavored smoke. A USAF vet, he is currently pursuing a PhD in computer science, focusing on artificial intelligence and computational linguistics. Originally from Connecticut and now residing in Delaware, Charlie is also a fan of football, science fiction, political philosophy, and single malt scotch. You can contact Charlie on Twitter @greenbacker