F1 App Review – Part One

21 Jan
In order to try & pass the time until the new season starts, I’ve been looking around the iTunes App Store to see what I could find in the way of free F1-related apps. I already had a few on my iPhone & iPad but wanted to see what else was out there.
It has always surprised me how few serious apps there are for such a tech and media savvy sport, but I’m hoping that there’ll be some more apps released ahead of the new season. This first review will look at the best of those free apps already out there. I’ll do another review of any new apps that come out between now and the start of the season.
For the ones I found in the iTunes store I’ve also checked Android Market and noted where they’re also available on Android. I don’t have an Android device so am not aware of any differences between the Apple and Android versions.
Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
(iPhone and Android)

This is the only full dedicated app I can find for an F1 team; not surprising really for a team whose prime sponsor is a mobile network. The app has 9 main areas:

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes app

F1 news feed – evidently for news from the sport but there’s currently only has 1 story about Hamilton being required to give evidence to the Sutil court case.
Team News feed – very out of date and the news looks rather light.
Races – a race calendar.
Live commentary – I can’t review this as there’s nothing to listen to right now. If anyone wants to send me details of this feature then please comment below.
Team & Drivers – Profiles of the drivers & key team personnel. Quite interesting to know more about the team personnel but unfortunately there’s a bug in this section which prevents you being able to navigate back from a profile to the list.
Driver results – the list of points scores for all drivers on the grid.
Team Results – the list of points scores for all the teams.
Live telemetry – data feeds from the race cars. There’s a demo option in this section and it looks good. Definitely the most impressive feature in the app.
Twitter – a feed of the team’s official tweets.
I really hope more F1 teams will follow suit & release dedicated mobile apps, and VMM have got a solid starting point here – the variety of features provides a form of ‘one stop shop’ for McLaren fans. It is a real shame, however, that it isn’t being kept up to date. The lack of media content does let it down a little.
Red Bull TV
(iPhone, iPad, Android & Nokia)
The main purpose of this app is to broadcast red bull tv, but for me the best thing about it is the amount of media content. There’s content for pretty much all of Red Bull’s sporting interests, and amongst it is some great stuff for the Red Bull and Toro Rosso teams.
During the 2011 F1 season David Coulthard presented a regular bulletin called ‘Road to Racing’ which gave more insight in to the RBR team. All the editions of this can be found on the app. There’s also videos from some of the show-runs and other team events. This is particularly welcome given that the main Red Bull Racing website runs on Flash, so the media content isn’t accessible on Apple devices.

The content also includes interviews with the drivers. Recent features include 10 minute interviews with Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel who each reflect on the 2011 season, and introductory interviews with the two new Toro Rosso drivers, Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo.

The Red Bull TV app

As a company that clearly loves its apps I’m surprised Red Bull haven’t got a dedicated RBR app (though they did bring out a one-off app for the 2011 Canadian GP called ‘Red Bull Racing Invasion’ for those attending the race). Likewise there could be an STR app. The TV app, coupled with others like the Red Bulletin magazine app (also free), does serve the F1 teams quite well though.
In terms of usability it’s not bad – the content loads quickly and everything is easily navigable menu-wise. Sheer volume of content does make it a little hard to find what you want but there is a search facility. The motorsports section could do with some sub-categories as there’s so much in there.
It is quite an absorbing app if you’re interested in other Red Bull sports, so perfect for whiling away the time when you’re bored between races/seasons.
Mercedes TV
(iPhone and iPad)
Not a live broadcaster like Red Bull but there’s some good content on this app in its Motorsport section. For Formula 1 there’s features with the drivers e.g. Schumi and Nico driving classic Silver Arrows, and a feature on the team’s amazing pit-stop techniques. Also good is the 2010 feature on the SLS AMG F1 safety car.

The Mercedes TV app

The motorsport section also features the Mercedes DTM team, with similar content to that covering the F1 team.
The app also contains videos of recent Mercedes TV adverts, which do occasionally feature their F1 drivers. Currently there is the Nico Rosberg ‘Masquerade’ advert set in Monaco. It’s a shame their archive of adverts isn’t on the app as there have been some great ones. There’s always You Tube for that though… From a usability perspective the app is easy to navigate and the rest of the content is also interesting to anyone who loves nice cars.
F1 Racing Parades
(iPad only)

F1 Racing Parade

This app features some of the incredible F1 action shots that are published in the ‘Parade’ section of the F1 Racing magazine. Photos are split in to several galleries:

Incidents – close up images of recent incidents including the effect of Vettel’s ‘Wall of Champions’ incident on his car, and Kovalainen’s infamous car fire in Singapore during 2010.
History – some great action shots of beloved names from the past, including Ayrton Senna and Graham Hill.
Circuits – scenic images of circuits on the calendar. This section has a fair amount of variety but there’s quite a heavy bias towards both Monaco and Albert Park. Hopefully photos from more circuits will be added over time.
Winners – some celebratory images of race winners and champions from the past few years. Surprisingly the only ‘pointy finger’ shots feature Jenson Button and the Brawn GP team!
Speed – action shots of cars moving at quite a pace. The Virgin in action at Singapore in 2010 is easily the best in this section.
Details – this section hasn’t got much content yet. Rather than giving a lot of close-ups of the cars it is mostly close-ups of drivers’ eyes. I appreciate some will like this but I’m more interested in the cars.
One nice touch of this app is the ability to ‘favourite’ the images you really like in order to save having to flick through the galleries to find them again. You can then share your favourites via e-mail, Facebook and twitter. Also, as with the F1 Racing magazine, the app also tells you who took each picture, the date it was taken and the type of camera used to capture the image.
I really hope new content will be added to this app soon as the ‘Parade’ section is one of my favourite things about F1 Racing magazine and it’s nice to have the pictures available in one place.
The F1 Times Mobile Web App
(iPhone only)
This app is a mobile-friendly version of the web content on the popular website ‘The F1 Times’. It is easy to navigate and the content is divided in to sections for News, Points, Live and Commentary.

The F1 Times Mobile app

As someone who uses the F1 Times site regularly I’m really glad to have this mobile-friendly version available for when I’m out and about.
You can’t download the app from the App Store as it is just a short-cut to web content, but to access the short-cut go to: www.tf1t.com/m and choose ‘add to home screen’.
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