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App Review – Part 5

29 Apr

It has been a while since I last did an app review, but here’s another collection of apps covering not only Formula 1, but other four-wheeled racing formulas as well. I hope you find it a useful resource.

Red Bull Racing Spy
(Free on iPhone, iPad)

After a slightly delayed launch, the Red Bull Racing Spy app is finally here. The app serves as an inside look at the team, and serves as a companion to one of the team’s official twitter accounts – @redbullf1spy.

The app features updates from the team at each race, including photos, a team diary which pulls together various feeds including twitter, facebook, the news section of their website, and some facts and figures about each race.

It is a nice little app, but if you already follow the team on twitter and facebook then it doesn’t add a massive amount.

DHL Fastest Lap
(Free on iPhone)

This app supports the DHL Fastest Lap award and allows F1 fans to participate in a season-long competition to win a 3 day pass to a race of your choice, or for individual race prizes of a DHL F1 package (the F1 2011 game for PC, a baseball cap, rucksack and a DVD). Before each race, fans need to predict what the fastest lap time will be, and which driver will record it.

The app also features information about the F1 season – standings, drivers, a calendar, and best of all, a photo gallery.

The only drawback to this app is that it requires users to have a Facebook account which, as you may have seen in one of my previous reviews, is something I’m not keen on.

DTM
(£1.49 on iPhone and iPad)

Today is an appropriate day to be reviewing this app, as the DTM 2012 season finally gets underway at Hockenheim.

The app features standard information about DTM – the calendar, driver profiles, tables and statistics.

Also included is a series of video clips about DTM – interviews, previews and features, as well as summaries of action on the track.

The other ‘media’ inclusion is photo galleries – there are photos of the track action from last year’s season which is the positive inclusion. Not so positive though is the Grid Girl photo gallery. I can appreciate that some blokes will like this feature but as a woman I don’t like it.

Overall it is a useful app. I’m not entirely sure that its features warrant a £1.49 price, but I may reconsider that during the season.

Team Ganassi
(Free on iPhone)

This is the official team app of Chip Ganassi and features information about each of the teams and drivers that they sponsor across American motor racing. In Indy Car this includes Target Chip Ganassi (Scott Power and Dario Franchitti), Service Central Chip Ganassi (Graham Rahal) and Novo Nordisk (Charlie Kimball). In NASCAR it covers Jamie McMurray and Juan Pablo Montoya, and in Rolex Grand-AM Sports Car Series, Memo Rojas and Scott Pruett.

As well as information about the drivers and series, there is Ganassi TV which includes a series of video interviews and features. There is also a trivia quiz about motor racing and the people involved in the teams.

The most fun feature of all though is the Fan Cam. This allows users to include their photo on a series of templates from Indy 500 winner to a team mascot.

V8 Timing 2012
(Basic app free, in app purchase £9.99 on iPhone, iPad, Android)

This app covers the V8 Supercars Australian race series (featured on Motors TV for non-antipodeans), and was built by the same software company who did the official F1 2012 live timing app (Soft Pauer).

The features are almost identical to the F1 2012 app – live timing and track positioning can be obtained through an in-app purchase, and there are the same basic free features containing news and information about the series.

I won’t go over the ins and outs again as I’ve already covered that in the F1 2012 app review, and I have to confess that the reason I’m including this in my review is that it highlights the premium that F1 fans are paying for the live data on their app.

The V8 Supercars series includes 15 races with 28 drivers, and the live feed data is £9.99. That works out at 67 pence per race, whereas Formula 1 fans are paying £1 per race for the data through their app which is priced £19.99.  FOM have defended the price of their app citing £1 per race as very good value. They might want to take another look at that…

F1 App Review – Part 4

21 Mar

The start of the new season has inevitable resulted in a flurry of new F1 apps being launched in the App Store. Here’s the latest round of apps.

Sky Sports F1 Race Control (within Sky Sports)

(Free with a Sky Subscription, on iPad)

This is essentially an app within another app. There had been some confusion prior to its launch as to whether this would be a stand-alone or an incorporated within the existing main sky sports app. The latter turned out to be the case.

This app is yet another part of the extensive coverage being given to F1 by Sky Sports, and it doesn’t disappoint. It provides the same live camera feeds when there’s action on the track as those available on the red button on your TV. Users can see the main feed being broadcast on the track, as well as several on board cameras and a live pit lane feed. I think this app will really come in to its own for me when I’m not at home and will most likely use this rather than Sky Go to watch the race.

There’s only two minor criticisms I can really throw at this app. Firstly, you can end up spoilt for choice and it is possible to miss some on-track action because you’re watching one of the other feeds (I know, I know, First World Pains…). Secondly, by being integrated within a Sky app which requires a login it is only available to Sky subscribers, and not to Virgin Media customers which seems a tad unfair. Not massively surprising though, as Sky have gradually been tucking more content away where only their customers can access it.

F1 107%

(Free, iPhone)

This free and simple app is a god send for anyone (myself included) wanting to keep an eye on whether the teams at the back of the pack will have driven sufficiently fast to be allowed to race, who is rubbish at mental arithmetic down to 3 decimal places.

As you can see from the image here, you set the pole position time using the scrolling wheels, and it calculates the 107% time limit for you. Simples.

Final Sector

(£0.69 on iPhone, Android)

This app accompanies the recently revamped Final Sector website, which is run by a team of bloggers and writers who I know on twitter (thought it best to ‘fess up on that one!). There’s already a significant number of F1 news apps available, so I was interested to see how this one would stand out from the crowd.

When the app is launched, you are greeted with a countdown to the next race, and a series of menu options for navigating round the extensive content within the app. There is a range of what I consider to be “standard” content in the form of news stories, the race calendar, team and circuit information, as well as standings and results information. There’s also historical information about previous championship winners, a gallery of images and a link to the official twitter feeds for teams and drivers.

Scroll further down the ‘More’ option, however, and there’s some gems which really do help this app stand out from the crowd. These gems include a direct link to the latest FIA regulations documents (both technical and sporting), and a glossary of terms used regularly in F1. Features like this really do help to make this app a one stop shop for F1 information. As if this wasn’t enough, there’s also three further features for use when out and about including a QR code scanner, and features to send a photo you have taken directly to the team, and to record some sound which can also be sent directly to the team (prepare to do your best impression of a press officer if you happen to encounter an F1 driver).

So, in a nutshell, if you’re wondering whether to invest in an F1 news app, I don’t believe there is a better one out there than this.

F1 App Review – Part 3

12 Mar

It’s been a little while since I last did an app review, and with a flurry of apps appearing at the start of the new Formula 1 season, here is my next installment for you.

F1 Timing 2012

(Lite version: Free, Full version: £19,99 on iPad, iPhone, Android)

This app is probably one of the most talked about amongst F1 fans, mainly because of the price tag. After the free version last year with basic timings, it seems we are now obliged to pay £19.99 for access to timing information. I have not bought this app because I know I won’t use it, but it works out at £1 per race.

It is possible to get a free version of the app which gives you access to the official standings and news, but the most dominant feature is the demo of the timing information and the on-track positioning. If you then want to get the live data then the full season is available through an in-app purchase.

The track positioning and live timing features do look good, and I can imagine that if you were regularly going to be unable to watch races, and wanted something visual to follow while listening to a radio commentary, then this could be a good investment. It could also be useful if you were at a race and watching live.

It’s a real shame you can’t buy data per race weekend, rather than forking out for the whole season in one go. This just smacks of greed on Bernie’s part. I’m sure many people will be put off buying the app because of the amount it costs. A more savvy app seller would probably consider selling data for each race.

The official Australian Grand Prix app

(Free, available on iPhone)

This is the official race app for the Melbourne Grand Prix later this week, and although I’m thousands of miles away in Blighty rather than attending the race Down Under, I really like it and have spent a lot of time looking at it. If I was down there it would be invaluable.

The app tells you everything you need to know about the race weekend, including on and off track events, and judging by everything that appears in the listings the Aussies really know how to host an F1 race in style.

Also included is the @ausgrandprix twitter feed, a photo gallery of what is happening locally, news, a map, and facts about the Australian Grand Prix.

This app really lays down the gauntlet for the other races on the calendar to provide something similar. I’ll be keeping an eye out for other race-related apps during the season to see how they compare.

Williams F1 iPredictor

(Free, on iPhone).

Having already given us their Facebook app to follow during pre-season testing, Williams F1 have now delivered their iPredictor app for the 2012 season.

The purpose of the app is pretty obvious from the name – it is a prediction game for the season, and like all good predictors there are prizes available. The ultimate prize for the best score of the whole season is a chance to be a guest of Williams F1 at the 2013 British Grand Prix. The winner for each race gets a goodie bag of team merchandise.

For each race in the season, the app requires you to predict each of the following:

  • The top 6 driver positions
  • The positions of the two Williams drivers
  • Who will set the fastest lap
  • The number of cars to finish the race
  • The number of safety car appearances in the race

The screen for setting your predictions is simple and easy to use, and the app as a whole is good to navigate around. The only thing I don’t like about it is the requirement to have a Facebook account. I’m not sure what it is about the Williams F1 team and Facebook (I guess their marketing/PR folks are all devotees of that social networking site), but it feels wrong to me to limit the use of their app to users of Facebook.

Users can create a league with their Facebook friends who are also using the app, which will make it more fun to use. I can also see that it is a good way for the team to engage F1 fans who aren’t necessarily fans of the team.

The app is quite different from the official McLaren team app (see my earlier reviews) or the features expected in the Red Bull F1 Spy app, but it is great to see another official F1 team app out there. Hopefully Williams will follow up next season with a dedicated app about the team.

Nurburgring app

(Lite version: Free, Full version: £0.69, on iPhone, iPad. Also see Nurburgring Info, free on Android)

This isn’t technically an F1 app, but I found it a few weeks ago and I think it’s pretty neat. The circuit has developed this app to allow motorsports fans access to their webcams positioned around the circuit. The lite version just has the main webcam at the entrance to the circuit (the feed of which can also be found online), whereas the full version also includes feeds of the gas station, the starting grid/finishing line and the Bridge section of the circuit.

Rather irritatingly for us Apple device-owning folks, the Android version is completely free and looks richer in content. I can’t review that one as I don’t have an Android device.

The feed refreshes every minute, and this app shouldn’t be seen as a live action camera feed of the track. It is a really nice idea though, especially for such a historic and important track. There’s no F1 race at the Nurburgring this year, but there’s regularly stuff going on there e.g. the DTM race on 19 August.

 

Alternative F1 Gear

13 Feb

Like any true F1 fan, I’m rather partial to spending my money on nice gear that relates to my favourite sport. However, official team merchandising can get very expensive. It’s also all rather serious…(except perhaps my foam pointy finger from Red Bull). Before doing a feature on the official 2012 merchandise from the teams ahead of the start of the season, I thought I’d take a look at some of the other stuff out there which is stylish and/or good fun, as well as being relatively cheap. I have personally got things from most of the retailers on here. Where I haven’t I’ll indicate this.

Unlap

Unlap is a brilliant online store for fun F1 or BTCC stuff, and they have a huge range of items which they design themselves: t-shirts, phone covers, hoodies, cufflinks and mugs. Prices are very reasonable, and the quality is great.

Website: http://www.unlap.co.uk

Twitter: @unlap

Unlap mugs

COME AND RACE IT – Austin Grand Prix

“The Austin Grand Prix” was founded by F1 fans and siblings Kerri and Kevin Olsen in order to provide a link between Austin, TX and the rest of us F1 fans around the world. Part of that link includes some great merchandise to help promote the race under their “Come and Race It” name. Their range includes t-shirts, caps and stickers, and feature the “Come and Race It” logo – a side-on black silhouette of an F1 car with the star of Texas above it. Simple idea but really great.

Website: http://www.theaustingrandprix.com

Twitter: @austingrandprix or @ComeAndRaceIt

Come And Race It

Posters

There’s some great places online to find posters relating to F1, and I’ve selected a few of them here which I either have or like the look of.

F1 is a sport which loves its history, and there’s some lovely vintage posters out there. I’m a big fan of the poster range by the Vintage Magazine Company http://www.vinmag.com (breadcrumb trail: Store Home > Vintage Advertising Posters > Motor Racing Posters, Car, Motorcycle and Bicycle Adverts) which has some historic race posters as well as old advertisements for cars and bikes. If you find yourself in Soho in London, or in the North Laine in Brighton then you can also browse their poster ranges in store.

Vintage Magazine Company

If you’re after something more relevant to recent or forthcoming races then there’s some great posters available for those too. I must say that I haven’t bought from either of these, but I do really like the look of posters from SamOssie on http://www.etsy.co.uk

Twitter: @SamOssie

who has a great design for the forthcoming season, and from PJ Tierney

Website: http://shop.pjtierney.net/

Twitter: @PJ_Tierney

Top: SamOssie Bottom: PJ Tierney

Cafe Press

Cafe Press is a goldmine for finding fun t-shirts, mugs, baby-gro’s etc, and there’s a good selection of motor racing themed designs on there. I’ve picked out some of my favourite designs below, but there’s oodles more on there if you’ve got time to search. I particularly like the maternity t-shirt with the future race driver. Prices can range significantly so it’s best to wait for when they have an offer on (which is quite regularly).

http://www.cafepress.co.uk

I’m sure there’s plenty of other great stuff out there; if you’re aware of anything else please do let me know!

F1 App Review 2

8 Feb

Since writing the last app review I’ve done some further rummaging around on to see what other free Formula 1 apps were out there. The Williams F1 team have just released a Facebook app which I will also be reviewing.
The Official Speed Channel app
(iPhone, Android)
This is the official app for the US motorsport channel Speed TV, who also broadcast Indy Car, NASCAR and Moto sports coverage. The app provides information for each of these forms of motor racing so is great for anyone also interested in the main US races and in Moto GP.

The Speed Channel app

There’s a variety of content within the app, including a news feed, race calendars and results, and the latest standings. There’s also a TV schedule section which I’m sure is helpful for those with access to the Speed Channel.
Best of all is the media content section. If you read my previous app review you’ll maybe recall this is something I really like to see in an app. The media section of this app includes photo galleries (this has been a really useful reference point for comparing the 2012 car launches), videos and best of all, podcasts. The Speed team do a video podcast for Practice, Qualifying and the Race from each F1 Grand Prix, so coverage is comprehensive.
The only thing about the app which irritates me is the advert banners. I can understand why an app built by an individual or small company would have these in order to help fund it, but for a broadcaster’s official app it’s unnecessary.
F1 Matrix
(iPhone, iPad)
This app is a dream come true for anyone who loves to analyse lap times and compare drivers. It is loaded with every lap time for every race from the 2009 season onwards, and allows you to compare all the lap times for two drivers for each race.

The F1 Matrix app

As you can see from the screen shot, there’s several columns of data: a list of lap times for each driver you pick, and then two further columns show the gap between them for an individual lap and the total gap between the two in the race at that point. In order to help explain lap time variances there is colour-coding for pit-stop laps, post-pit-stop laps and the driver’s fastest lap of the race. On the right hand side is an indicator to show which driver was fastest on that lap, with a tally at the top to show the split of faster laps.
This app will be really handy for anyone doing post-race analysis, and thankfully it lets you save your search in a folder so you can refer back to it later. It is simple, but an effective and powerful tool. I will definitely be using this app a great deal.
F1 Quotes
(iPhone, iPad)
Formula 1 is a sport rich in memorable quotes, not least from the highly esteemed Murray Walker, and this app is an amusing little source of quotes from within F1 and other motor sports. Quotes are included from commentators like Murray Walker, as well as from drivers and other team personnel.

F1 Quotes

Each quote is presented on a photo of a racing car. The photos don’t relate to the quotes, but they are still a good way of presenting the content. It’s not an app you’d use persistently, but it is definitely a fun way of passing a few spare minutes.
The free version of the app has adverts on it, but you can buy an ad-free version for £0.69.
The Williams F1 Team ‘ Virtual Build’ Facebook app
Having said in my last app review that I hoped F1 teams besides McLaren would bring out official apps, my wish has partially come true through the new William’s F1 Facebook app.
The app focuses on the launch of the FW34 car and its development during the 2012 winter test period. New features about the car will be released on specific dates over the coming weeks. There is also a link to a live data feed of lap times from the winter tests (data being displayed on the Williams F1 website rather than the app).

Williams Virtual Build

By opting for a facebook app Williams have gone for maximum accessibility with fans, though sadly for us Apple mobile device-users, the content doesn’t work effectively on an iPad or iPhone.
‘Virtual Build’ is a simple but effective way of engaging fans in the build up to the new season, even more so given that it is coming from a team seeking to rebuild its image after a poor 2011 season.

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’.