|Cross Country App|
Like a bus, you wait and wait, and then 2 come along at once! Well now we have two apps for memorising your cross country course. To rival CourseWalk, CrossCountry is the latest iPhone App to launch that helps you memorise your cross country course, and it’s a pretty strong contender for the App Store’s “New & Noteworthy”, and should have metre wheel manufacturers quaking in their boots. [Not that anyone competing below intermediate needs a metre wheel]
This App hails from Australia, developed by the Diacono family from Sydney (Mum Jose, Son James & Daughter Helen), and unsurprisingly they have a fair bit of experience in Eventing, Jose is involved at the Sydney 3 Day Event and has an ‘ology’ in mapping, Helen is an event rider, whilst James has provided the technical wizardry behind the app.
The principles are very simple; provide some basic information about the course you are about to walk then start recording as you walk round your course. Along the way take snaps of each fence, and other relevant points. You can record video clips too.
The are plenty of really nice user interface refinements in this natively developed app. As you walk the course the app automatically zooms out so you can always see your entire course on screen. The bonus of this is it reduces data traffic and map rendering of google maps that also means less demand on the processor and thereby less demands on the battery. Apps that use Google maps are a huge drain on device resources and they crunch through your battery, so any features that limit this are good news.
As you walk round, minute markers are added automatically, and a discreet little sound plays to alert you, again a nice touch and the animation is nice and smooth too. You build up a picture gallery of fences, way points, and other markers as you continue your walk, which are effortless to generate with pre filled data screens that automatically recognise your next fence number and allow you to add notes on striding etc.
Another nice touch is being able to add video clips, which I personally would use more than pictures, as you could narrate rather than type notes. The less distraction you have whilst walking a course the better! Helmet cams are being used now as a way to record course walks so this feature I think is a real bonus.
Once you have recorded your course you can then review this by tapping individual markers on the map or flicking through the gallery, and because the app caches the map you actually don’t need to be connected to the internet once you have finished recording, making it nice and fast to use.
In summary I think this app is top class, with excellent technical deployment, and I can see both this app and it’s US rival evolving into more of an ‘event day management app’ as they progress. As with any app using google maps in this way, one downside is the amount of battery life it consumes, but I over come this with a battery pack, and of course, next week sees the release of the iPhone 5 with improved battery life. My initial thoughts for what I’d like to see in the next version are:
- Allow me to record my actual round by carrying my iphone with me, so I can compare my walk with my ride (minute markers etc.)
- Allow me to move the minute markers myself to account for terrain, intensity etc.
- Account for Alternative Fence Complexes
- Allow me to share my course with others, and more importantly vice versa (I really want to see how Andrew Nicholson intends to ride Burghley!).
- Allow others to add photos to my course (which might be photos of my horse)
Competing Apps is good news for consumers so expect plenty of new features regularly added to both apps. Go download either or both, and go walk a cross country course before the season draws to a close!
NB: On a related note, I’d recommend checking that all of your favourite apps have been tested against iOS 5.0 before you upgrade your phone software next week when the upgrade is released, as there are a few significant changes, that app developers will need to have accounted for. Something I’m currently doing for my own apps (groan….)