Bangkok Diary Friday 7 May 2010: MotoGP, Official Live Timing - Premium Pass: Three for the Price of One
One of my must-have apps for the iPhone this year was the 2010 Formula One Timing app by Soft-Pauer. Despite its relatively high price, of $32.99 (just under 1,000 baht), when it was released I downloaded it almost immediately. I reviewed it in late March in the Bangkok Post. The lack of hesitation in buying the app was following my experiences with the previous year's version, which I had reviewed in the Bangkok Diary in August 2009 when that was released. Despite the outlay, which is mainly due to the providers of the data, Formula One Management, for someone like me who enjoys such sports, the additional information provided, particularly with split timing, made this a valuable complement to the basic television input.
Towards the end of that August 2009 article, I wrote, "I want this for MotoGP." Earlier this year, my wish was answered when Soft-Pauer released MotoGP, Official Live Timing - Premium Pass in time for the start of the season. It was priced at $18.99 (610 baht)
This Soft-Pauer offering is at a slightly lower price than the Formula One app as I speculate the charges levied for motorcycle racing data are less than for four wheels. The source of the data is a Spanish company: Dorna Sports S.L. Like Formula One Management, these are the commercial and television rights' holders.
The Japanese GP was postponed because of the volcanic ash from Iceland and, despite some comments on social networking sites, we can blame no one for that. For me, therefore, the Spanish GP meeting at Jerez, was the first race of the season.
The Credits section, apart from acknowledgements to Soft-Pauer personnel and Dorn Sports, like the text that rolls by at the end of any movie, has a couple of interesting points. One of these is that anonymous data on use may be collected for statistical analysis, and there is also the useful pointer to the MotoGP App Twitter contact. Their Formula One Twitter feed was how I initially discovered this app; and it also answered one or two queries that arose out of the first F1 race this year. But heavens, the print in this section, and in some of the others is quite small. Or maybe it is the font, or the contrast. It is much easier to read the F1 app.
In landscape mode the initial screen shows the circuit with a ticker tape news feed below. Clicking on the arrow changes to the full timing screen with the four timed sections. Within the bottom part of the screen are small display icons to show the race running conditions: green for normal, with yellow, red and a checker pattern to indicate if one of these flags is displayed by marshalls. The right side should also display the number of laps that have been run, but in the 125cc and Moto2 races these showed elapsed time. An adjustment to data transmitted may be needed here.
The nature of Formula One with a spread out field of up to two dozen cars and the closely-spaced large fields of riders, particularly in the Moto2 race mean that the apps may need to be used differently. While action evolves more gradually with the cars, the bikes are far more exciting on a second by second basis. While looking at the details of this app, I read a report on the venerable Motor Sport Magazine website by Rob Widdows, who looks at the dynamic nature of MotoGP, in a sort of preview of the F1 GP scheduled to take place the following weekend at Catalunya.
However, the different concentration levels these races produce mean that the data in the MotoGP app is less likely to be used -- at least in my house -- for the constant update that I have found so useful with the F1 app. I think that the large fields also affect use. With the 1 app, times of those at the back of the field, particularly if they are normally front runners, can be easily checked with a simple scroll down. Particularly with the Moto2, those at the back are less likely to make the same sort of progress that a F1 driver can force, while we are more likely to need to scroll through two screens to find a specific rider. Bearing in mind that I live and work in Thailand, I like to keep track of the sole Thai rider, Ratthapark Wilairot (whose father, Christmas Wilairot was a mean racer in his day too).
While I am able to follow the F1 app quite closely, the intense action and the larger amounts of data meant that I was paying less attention to the MotoGP app, at least in my early use of it. This may mean this has a greater value to those who want to view the race data after the race has been run, or for those with no access to a TV (or web) transmission of races.
I was also confused with the gap display on the timing screens. This was the usual time back from the leader for Moto2 and MotoGP, but the 125cc data showed the gap between each rider. I trust that this was a problem with the flow of data for this one race and will be rectified for France.
An additional problem is the simple result of the data coming from three races. The iPhone is being used for several hours and in use the screen never goes off, so the battery will drain. Downloading and watching the videos available via the news section also affects the battery. While this is expected, it means that either a full charge is needed before races start if, like me a user wants to see all races, or a power supply needs to be available.
An app like this is cheap if the value to a user is proven. Although this has several differences to its more expensive cousin for Formula 1, the inclusion of all three classes of Grand Prix motorcycle racing, suggest to me that as an almost instant source of reference data this is worth having for the enthusiasts among us.
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