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.