SBD/July 15, 2014/Media

App Review: Tour De France For iPhone Offers High Gear, But Could Use A Tune-Up

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Priced at $14.99 plus tax, Tour de France for iPhone is clearly geared toward avid fans of the annual cycling event. A live video feed is included, but the app’s primary deliverables are detailed course information, rider profiles and race-related content. With the app at my fingertips during the early stages of the race, I got an education on Le Tour, from course profiles to stage descriptions to cycling terminology. I watched the live stream, followed the peloton and studied the strategy of the sport. The depth of information offered in the app is intense and useful features abound, but the aesthetics are less than impressive, leaving me wanting more for my money. Live video, news and course information are located in the app’s main Live section. An information tab highlights key stats, and this refreshes with each launch of the app. Course profiles are pliable via pinch and zoom, showing elevation mapped against distance, and key points along the course are marked with icons. An aerial map of the course can also be viewed in street or satellite view. Race standings feature General Classification leaders and rankings in specific categories such as King of the Mountains, Best Young Rider and Most Aggressive Rider. Tapping into an individual stage reveals a course description, profile, map, sprint and climb summary, results, stage replay, video, photos, interviews and a written recap. Rider profiles have their own section, and these can be viewed in order of team, position, name, bib and country. Under a section titled More, users can find an interactive Twitter feed, a tour map in PDF format, cycling terms, '13 standings, notification preferences and a user guide. Tour de France for iPhone was developed by NBC Sports Group in partnership with MapMyRun. It is a subscription-based product with no advertising. For those who simply want to view the race, they can do so for free on NBC Sports Live Extra, a TV Everywhere application. This review was conducted on an iPhone 5 version 7.1.2, with AT&T LTE service.

BREAKAWAYS: Live video goes off seamlessly, providing users with a rider's eye view. Notifications are sent out for stage starts and finishes, and recap information is quickly populated. Highlights include a full-length, commercial-free clip of each stage and an impressively quick delivery of results data. Course maps and profiles allow users to view course landmarks, locate the peloton, follow breakaway riders and see the results of their favorite riders. There is no shortage of race-related information here, and it is easy to get caught up in the content for hours.

DROPS: Full-length video replays are useful for fans looking to relive race footage, but with Stage 8 clocking in at more than four hours, a condensed clip would be a welcome addition. The live news and information feeds are static listings of race updates that refresh only when the app is opened. The lack of imagery is felt, particularly as it relates to news and video. There are no full text articles to read, nor any built-in distribution features connected to the content. A working Twitter feed does exist, but it is hidden in the More section. Finally, while there is a collection of cycling terms and definitions, specific rules and statistics are not readily available.

BOTTOM LINE: Tour de France for iPhone contains an amazing amount of quality race-related content. Watching the live stream is a win for mobile viewers, as are results-oriented alerts and course profiles. However, a lack of images and a disjointed navigation makes the app feel old. A layout reorganization and some aesthetic upgrades are on the wish list for next year.

Amie Sheridan (amie.sheridan31@gmail.com) is a freelance writer in Philadelphia.

See Sheridan's previous App Review submissions for THE DAILY:
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