This round-up of Cricket apps is dedicated to all of the Cricket lovers around the world. With the ICC Champions Trophy beginning today, I thought it’d be a great opportunity to cover and review the Cricket apps that are available on the App store.
Despite the worldwide popularity of cricket, the market for cricket applications on the iPhone is nowhere near the saturation point of some of the other popular sports. While this is most likely due to cricket’s limited appeal to the American market, there is still a fair amount of competition abroad — and some interesting innovations being put forward by iPhone developers.
As more and more people get their hands on these devices, cricket fans from around the world have a choice between nine applications, most of which can be downloaded for less than US$1 for both the iPhone and iPod touch.
Cricket (99 cents)
Now in version 1.2, when the application is loaded, the news screen displays a list of headlines from articles published on ESPN’s Cricinfo website. Clicking on a headline opens a new screen which shows a summary of the article and a link to open the full story on the Cricinfo’s website. The same news stories can be filtered on a per-country basis via the Countries screen, which arguably makes the default news screen redundant. The Live screen shows at-a-glace summaries of all current and some recent matches. Clicking through on an individual match opens the match details on the Cricinfo website — which is not easily viewable on the iPhone screen.
Overall, the application doesn’t provide much more than what a visit to the Cricinfo website would provide and may make some people wonder if paying for the application is justified, especially seeing that there are free applications that offer similar functionality.
Cricket Live (iCricket) (99 cents)
A relatively new cricket application for the iPhone (released in February 2009), it’s primary feature is a simple, yet functional news aggregator and viewer which pulls articles from several major news sources. The titles of stories, along with the first few lines of the text as well as the date and time, are listed on the main application screen. Clicking on a story launches a new screen with a summary and an ability to open the full story on the relevant website (similar to Cricket, reviewed above). The settings screen provides end users with some control over which news sources are polled.
While the application is elegant in its simplicity, the same functionality is also offered in other free cricket applications. Alternatively, spending a couple of dollars on a good quality, commercial RSS reader would provide the ability to keep up to date with more than just cricket news and provide additional control over the display of the news.
Cricket Live-007 (99 cents)
Another application recently developed (launched in February 2009), provides ICC rankings in addition to the live scores and news. Live scores and recent scores are both accessible via different main menu options, which can make it awkward to find details on a particular match if it finishes earlier than expected. However, a full scorecard for each match is provided within the application, which is commendable despite the tad-unpolished design. The ICC rankings section shows the current standings of teams and players in tabular format — however, no additional player or team statistics are available. Still yet, this is a nice addition that isn’t provided by other applications, but as with the scores section, the design is somewhat mediocre.
Overall, the application has a comprehensive set of features for the small price. Although it was developed by a company that develops a range of other iPhone applications, one would have thought that more effort would have gone into the interface design. Apple’s products in general are renowned for having intuitive user interfaces, however, this application contradicts that, resulting in a less than impressive interface that detracts from the usability.
Cricket Trivia (99 cents)
Released in April 2009, the Cricket Trivia quiz is a relatively simple application with a few added features to tailor it more towards today’s gamers. After launching the application, the user selects the number of random questions that will be included in the test. Each question is then answered, one by one with the final score presented at the end. Navigation through each question is a bit rigid, with the user unable to skip a question or go back to it. Upon the completion of each test, the score is then added to a table that allows you to keep track of your performance. While this provides an element of game play to the applications, there’s no ability to enter your name next to a score or to compare scores online, although both features are available in many similar games offered today.
This applications seems to be more suitable to an iPod than to iPhone since quitting the application (e.g. to answer a phone call) results in the quiz being interrupted. The application would benefit from a free-flow mode where the user is able to answer, skip or revisit questions as they are asked. There is also room for the interface design features to be improved. Unlike other trivia quizzes where answers remain relatively unchanged, the cricket statistics are in constant flux and one presumes that the app would need to be regularly updated to keep up with these changes.
CricketRSS (99 cents)
While its name is more accurate in regards to what to expect when you come across it, CricketRSS is functionally similar to the Cricket Live (iCricket) application reviewed above. The main screen shows a list of news headlines and truncated descriptions, conveniently grouped by date. Clicking on any one of the news items opens up the details page which shows the full description and the ability to open the full source website.
The features of the application are relatively basic and, apart from some minor design inconsistencies between different screens, is reasonably functional. Though not feature-rich, there are no flaws in the application, though for a dedicated news application, it would have been better if it had a wider range of news sources, apart from the usual suspects.
ECB Cricket (Free)
The official application of the English & Wales Cricket Board was released in time for the 2009 English summer. The application opens on the main scores screen and lists the current England international and English County Cricket (ECC) matches. Clicking on a match displays the score summary. Rotating the device horizontally displays the full scorecard for the match, with each innings on a separate screen — a novel approach which maximizes the amount of data that can be shown on a single screen. The interface of the main news screen is reminiscent of the album selection screens on iPods and displays headlines, photos and the truncated descriptions for each news item. Clicking on an item reveals the full article inside the application itself with the photo section working in a similar way. The ECBtv section is a list of video podcasts from YouTube streaming the external YouTube player.
The major, though understandable, limitation of the app is that it only shows the scores for the ECC and the England international matches. As such, the market is somewhat limited to the UK and international ECC fans only. The other notable absence is the running commentary for the matches or the ability to see the past match scores or team standings. Overall, the application is extremely well polished, even though some of the elements may appear a bit gimmicky at times.
When this application was first released in October 2008, it started out as just a free RSS reader for Cricinfo’s news feeds. Since then it has grown to also include links to match scores. The main screen lists various categories of news and scores in a standard scrollable view, though there’s no grouping of sections, which often makes it confusing to determine where to go to access the information you’re after. This is particularly awkward in relation to the match scores and commentary — links to scorecards on the Cricinfo website appears in one section of the application while the running commentary (for selected matches only) appears in a completely different section. The news part of the application is relatively standard, broken down into per-country categories. Clicking on a category takes the user to the list of headlines with truncated descriptions. Clicking on the article opens the Cricinfo website for the full article, skipping the news detail page common to the other applications.
The application is functional, though it generally takes a lot of clicking around to find the information you want to access. The logic behind the layout of the sections leaves a lot to be desired. However, for a free app and an amateur fan effort, it is cute and a better effort than some of the commercial cricket applications reviewed.
This anticipated app was released in October 2008. The opening screen of the application lists the current, upcoming and recent matches. Clicking on a match displays Cricinfo’s famous ball-by-ball commentary and gives access to the full scorecard for the match. Clicking on a news item displays the full story on the iPhone itself, without opening the external website. The photos section shows photos that do not appear to be linked to any current matches nor do they behave like standard iPhone photos — they cannot be zoomed or scrolled through using the standard gestures. The podcast section is a useful bookmark of the podcasts by Cricinfo’s commentators.
There’s no question that the quality and the comprehensiveness of Cricinfo’s data is top rate, however the resulting application is both confusing and extremely frustrating to use. For example, throughout the match detail screens, notification icons for “4,” “6” etc popping constantly, regardless if matches being played or not. Even more confusingly, the “Matches” tab shows the same type of information as the main screen — only presented in a different format. One certainly expects more from professional developers backed by ESPN and it is hard not to dismiss this as a token effort in the also-ran category of the App Store.
Virtual Cricket ($1.99)
While the final application, Virtual Cricket, was only recently released, it’s clear that the developer has addressed the shortcomings that have been identified with the other applications. The matches screen displays a list of current, upcoming and recently completed matches, with single-line match status and the time of the last update. Clicking on a match shows the match summary with current score and the most recent commentary highlights (4s, 6s, wickets, etc). The news section follows the familiar pattern of listing headlines and truncated descriptions. Clicking through shows a summary of the news item, with a link to open the full article. The main difference here is that the headlines are aggregated from around 20 different news sources, grouped by source and country and catering to each user’s local preferences. The feeds also include leading cricket blogs as an alternative to the traditional news sources, as well as several video channels.
Clearly, this seems to be the most comprehensive application currently available. It takes many of the best features of every other application reviewed and presents these features in a professionally polished package. In a quest for features, it doesn’t forget the details and implements niceties.