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Summary:

I’m a big hockey fan — cheering on the Colorado Avalanche and playing whenever I get the chance. So when HockeyGPS (free) came out for the iPhone and iPod touch, I had to give it a try. The basic idea behind the app is that it will […]

I’m a big hockey fan — cheering on the Colorado Avalanche and playing whenever I get the chance. So when HockeyGPS (free) came out for the iPhone and iPod touch, I had to give it a try.

The basic idea behind the app is that it will locate nearby hockey facilities of any kind, or in the words of Hockey Science & Technology – the developers of the app:

Easily find and navigate to locations such as hockey arenas, skill development or training centres and retail locations selling hockey equipment, skate sharpening services, hockey memorabilia and so much more.

This sounds great, and even offers the ability for you to add local resources that may not be included in the database yet. The concept has some merit, but unfortunately, HockeyGPS is pretty rough around the edges out of the gate.

The user interface, always a hot topic for Apple folks, is horrendous. (To be fair, the icon is actually decent.) There’s a text entry box for searching which you leave empty in order to get all results. I’d have opted for a button that just said something like, “Hockey Nearby” but that’s probably just me.

The best looking part is the results listing screen, but once you touch a result to see the details, it degrades awful quickly. The result details page looks like an HTML iframe, and moves around if you touch and drag. You can call the facility, open Safari for the website, or have it mapped in the iPhone Google Maps application. The screen for entering your own spots for inclusion in the database is equally sparse and unappealing. To top it all off, the screens are sluggish to respond to your touch!

 

So the look and feel aren’t there, but could be saved by good content. Sadly, there’s no redemption here either. Where I live in Denver, CO, I get the surrounding ice rinks (both recreational and professional), but nothing more. I was hoping to find some new hockey stores that I hadn’t yet known about. But it appears that HockeyGPS is relying almost completely on user input for their useful content. I suppose it’s a good way for store owners and camps to get their presence out there, but that’s assuming they know this application exists, and they can muddle through the interface for submission.

I appreciate what the folks at Hockey Science & Technology are trying to do here, I really do. Maybe after some spit and polish in the design department, and some individuals who are glutons-for-punishment take the time to enter relevant data, HockeyGPS will be a useful application. But as it stands now, even the price tag of ‘free’ in the App Store may not be enough for people to latch onto this one.

  1. Do people really walk around wondering where the nearest hockey arena and hockey shops are?? Seems like it would be a reeeally small niche audience. Who cares?

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  2. @Ferbie
    True, the niche may be somewhat limited, but I could see the usefulness if my son were looking to further his skills, and I wanted to find some available camps and such nearby. Granted, if he’s playing in a league locally, chances are I already know of these options – but if I just moved to a location and wanted to see what the lay of the land was (from a hockey perspective), it may prove useful…that is, if there were useful information available!

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  3. I’m with Ferbie.

    I would go further and argue that the whole concept of putting “cool” and “sports arena” in the same sentence is flawed (unless your just talking about the temperature of the ice. ) :)

    I’ll admit the app would be useful if you were a rabid hockey fan though and does seem to be well thought out. I think the niche for the app is very small though, in that you would have to be a hockey *player* that *travels* a lot for this to be truly useful. I guess if your kids in a league and travels around it makes sense?

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  4. @Gazoobee
    Yes, it was a [lame] attempt at a pun, nothing more.

    And yes, for the traveling team players/parents, this could [eventually] be a useful thing, but outside that, most probably know where their major NHL or AHL arenas are already.

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  5. as a avid hockey fan (go kings!) and player this sounded like an awesome app, alas after a little playing around i found it near useless since there arnt any locations near me in the database yet and i dont feel like taking the time to add them. this would be especially useful for say someone who frequently plays out of town tournaments and wants to know where local shops are rather than pro shops at rinks since pro shops usually have a lighter selection and higher prices.

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  6. Hi Nick,

    Thanks for taking the time to write about our App. This is great feedback from you and your readers.

    HockeyGPS originated from the number of arenas that the owner of Hockey Science & Technology had to take his kids to around North America. Collecting coordinates and loading them into his GPS device made navigating back to the same arenas easy over and over again. Using today’s technology, we made this into an application that can be used by the entire hockey community on-line or from their iPhone and iPod Touch. So hockey fans, rep/travel team parents, tournament teams, referees and re-located hockey families can use the service to search and navigate to arenas and more.

    As you know, we did not want to stop at just arenas. The heart of the company is based on hockey skill development (see http://www.80hours.ca). We’ve opened up free contributions for skill centers and even hockey retailers to add to the database.

    As for U.S. arenas, the database is growing each day and we will have it completed soon. So thanks to our hockey friends all over for adding locations and to the real passionate ones in CO and CA in particular.

    Please keep the feedback coming or contact us directly with your ideas and thoughts to make this an even better experience for the hockey community.

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