If you’ve not yet made the decision over whether to buy Formula1.com’s F1 2012 Timing App ahead of this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix, then make sure you read this excellent review from our contributing writer, Jenifer Smith…
One of my main frustrations with watching F1 is that I’m always at the mercy of the race director to decide what I get to see and which stats are displayed on screen at any time. Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing bad with the footage but most races I get to a point where I find I have no idea where one of my favourite drivers is, or there are just too many battles happening and only one can be followed at a time.
With my acquisition of an iPad over the off season and (if I’m honest) the lack of a free timing app this year, I bit the bullet and shelled out the AU$31 for the F1 2012 Timing App made by Softpauer. I would have liked to have seen an option to buy race passes rather than having to commit up front to the cost for the whole season but so be it, this is an app aimed at the enthusiast and the price reflects that – it breaks down to less that $1.50 a race. I used the app for qualifying and the full race over the Melbourne GP weekend and I ran it on an iPhone (4S) and an iPad (2) to see the differences as this is a universal app. So what did I think?
My first impression was that it has a very slick interface – if you’re familiar with the live timing functions on the formula1.com website, it’s like it had babies with Mac OS X while no-one was looking – all the usual data is there – sector times, colour coding for fastest laps, personal best laps etc. and then it’s been added to with extras like which tyres each driver is running, the nationality and team of each driver and their fastest speed trap time all in a typical Apple type style. As a business analyst, I revel in this level of data but it might not be for the casual viewer. The data part of the interface is also interactive with several columns hiding additional data behind them that can be shown with a tap – for instance the sector times can be swapped for personal best sector times so you can compare a driver’s performance and tapping on a specific driver’s lap time will change the other drivers lap times for their time gap to the selected driver. Now would this all be enough to sell the app to me? Not alone, even an over enthused analyst as myself, I could do most of this using the formula1.com data feed.
The fancy piece comes in with the interactive tracking map. The map shows you the full track and track position of every driver on track – in qualification you can see which drivers are likely to hit traffic, in race conditions you can see DRS zones, easily track everyone’s pit stops and of course where they are at any time (yep, now I don’t have to ever worry about a brief distraction or poorly timed advert break resulting in me not being able to find Jenson Button…on the track obviously). You can zoom in and out using a pinch gesture, swivel the map and change the angle with ease. You can also tap a car and the map will automatically update to follow the car round the track.
Both of these can be viewed together using a split screen when the iPad is held vertically, while in a landscape view the map is blown up to full screen with minimal timing information on the left hand side.
There are other parts to the app, such as championship standings, a built in news feed and a countdown to the next race function which are free features that can be accessed by anyone and could also be found on the formula1.com website.
Now it’s not all sunshine, the commentary during the race was questionable – I was still getting a message about McLaren having similar lap time to Michael Schumacher at the end of the race, long after Schumacher had retired. The app also crashed at the beginning of the race when I tried to pause the app briefly to sync it with the TV coverage (which is a couple of seconds behind the app here in Australia) – it took me nearly three laps to fix the app and so I missed the action at the beginning of the race. If I could ask for extra functionality in a future upgrade, I would ask for weather information to be built in and a safety car marker for the interactive map during safety car period. Until the cars get backed up, it’s impossible to tell where there safety car might be on the track. Not essential but track markers to show yellow flag areas would be nice to have too.
I did find that this app really was built for the iPad and adapted for the iPhone. I used 16% of my iPad battery over the race on Sunday, however my iPhone used 40% of its battery and was noticeable warm from about 20 minutes into the race. While the iPhone offers the split screen with timings and the interactive map, the screen is just too small to be able to take in the detail so it’s really only suited for one or the other. A lot of space in the timings is given over to the nationality/team column which personally I feel is wasted and I’d rather be able to sector times instead of colour indicators for the sectors.
|The F1 2012 Timing App was not really built for the iPhone, but it’s fantastic on the iPad|
Honestly I wouldn’t buy this app for my iPhone alone, but for the iPad it’s a fantastic addition to race weekends for me. The final highlight for me is that I can download all the data post race and rewatch it – meaning that for time delayed race watchers, or people such as myself who record races because they fall asleep if they watch a race after 10pm, this app can still be used. This app is definitely angled at the viewer who enjoys being able to follow every detail of the race, I personally don’t think that it would hold my attention for following a race if I wasn’t able to watch it simultaneously though. If you’re on the fence, there is a ‘lite’ version of this app that includes demo data so you can play with all the functions and see how the app works before making the commitment and I would recommend taking a look for yourself.