SBD/August 26, 2014/Media

App Review: MLB At The Ballpark A Handy Companion For Gameday

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This week brings my first on-site review of a mobile application, as I took MLB At the Ballpark with me to Citizen's Bank Park on Sunday. I found that At the Ballpark definitely adds to the live game experience, with special offers and conveniences like food delivery and a searchable list of stadium amenities. While most of the app's features are current, repetitive data collection forms hold it back from being entirely intuitive. At the Ballpark is an ad-supported free download, developed by MLBAM. An account with MLB.com is required to access the app's features. This review was conducted on an iPhone 5 version 7.1.2, with AT&T LTE service.

SAFE AT HOME: As I approached Citizen's Bank Park, I opened At the Ballpark and purchased a ticket to the Phillies' home game against the Cardinals -- a process that took less than five minutes from start to finish. This was a bit longer than expected, but not long enough to be a deterrent. At the gate, my mobile ticket was successfully scanned, and I checked into the ballpark via the app's built-in iBeacon technology. This instantly unlocked two special offers -- a free hotdog and soda, and a discount on Phillies merchandise. I quickly located the check-in desk, received my voucher and redeemed my free meal. Not a bad start. Checking into the game also unlocked in-game highlights. There were seven for Sunday’s game that populated in a timely fashion, but not quickly enough to call them instant replays. From my seat, I tested the app’s food delivery feature. Although I had saved my credit card to the app during the ticket-purchasing step, I had to re-enter the information. This was irritating. Once I placed the order, however, two bottles of water and a foam finger were delivered to me in what felt like four minutes. Success. Elsewhere in the app, a map feature displays the locations of all the ballpark's amenities -- from concessions to restrooms to merchandise. Users can search this feature by keyword to find exactly what they want. Typing in popcorn will pull up the stands that sell it. This is definitely a useful tool that prevents "stadium circling syndrome." The app also features a ballpark guide with everything a fan would need to know, including directions, parking and fun facts. Lastly, a journal feature keeps track of a fan’s ballpark visits (via iBeacon check-in), photos, and the fan’s win-loss record while at the parks. Photos can be conveniently shared to social accounts. With the Phillies winning 7-1 on Sunday, I am currently batting 1.000 in At the Ballpark.

CALLED FOR A BALK: After saving credit card information once, I felt that I should not have to enter it again. Similarly, once I had logged into my MLB.com account once, I should have remained logged in throughout my experience. There were three separate user ID and password log-ins required between purchasing tickets, downloading tickets and ordering food. These things should require only one log-in and one form.

BOTTOM LINE: A cheery companion to game-day, MLB delivers many conveniences with At the Ballpark. Most elements of the experience are smooth and intuitive, but streamlining the data collection process is recommended to make the experience more current. There are not enough reviews on iTunes to constitute a rating, but I give At the Ballpark 3.5 stars. There is certainly room for growth, particularly in the ways fans can interact with the app and each other. I would have ventured to other places, or even competed with other fans to unlock additional offers. It would also be nice to see if there is anyone I know at the game based on user check-ins. With the second phase of iBeacon technology beginning to roll out across ballparks, maybe my wishes will be granted.

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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