Official F1 Live Timing App 2014 reviewed

Reviews

Official F1 app 2014The quieter sound of the new engines wasn’t the only cause for complaint for some during last week’s Australian Grand Prix.

As the first race weekend of the season got underway many fans were more than a little disappointed to discover that the live timing page on the official F1 website had been stripped of most of its functionality. No sector times, no lap chart, no weather information – just a list of lap times and purple/green/white sector time indicator lights.

Since the official Formula One app first went on sale it’s been a question of when rather than if the free version would be cut back to give viewers an incentive to buy. But does the paid version offer a sufficient increase in functionality at a reasonable enough price to be worth it?

Pricing has been a major area of complaint with this app in years past. The 2013 edition was priced at an excessive £23.99 for a single season.

The new version, marketed by Formula One Digital Media instead of Soft Pauer, appeared with little fanfare shortly before the new season began but immediately distinguished itself with a substantial price cut.

It’s now offered for a much more sensible £9.99 for the all-bells-and-whistles version. For your money you get much the same information as was available in last year’s app, including a live map of the circuit, detailed sector information and speed, gear and tyre data.

A free offering remains, though as on the website you only get a basic leaderboard and text commentary. The paid version remains a one-year subscription.

The experience of using it is familiar from previous apps and does it a good job of presenting complicated and rapidly-changing data in an intelligible way.

I’m sure I would have enjoyed rummaging through the rich data on offer but I couldn’t, for the simple reason that the app is unbelievably buggy. You get the full gamut of glitches: it fails to load, crashes mid-session, dumbly fails to respond to your taps and shows wildly incorrect information.

Throughout the Australian Grand Prix weekend it was unusable, and on the infrequent occasions when it did run the data stream was usually well behind the free website timing screen. When the developers get all the bugs worked out it may well be an excellent app, but it’s a leap of faith at the moment.

Choosing to cut back the free live timing page may make sense as a business decision, but failing to offer a corresponding paid version for desktop users doesn’t – and wouldn’t even if the paid add worked beautifully. It clearly wasn’t ready for the start of the season, leaving F1 fans less well catered for in this respect than they were six months ago.

Last week team principals admitted they had been surprised by the strength of reaction from fans against the dismal double points rule. No doubt for some changes like this are enough to turn the off the sport completely.

But more often than not it isn’t a single change, rather an accumulation of factors which prompts a person to give up on something they once enjoyed. Factors like the inconveniences of not being able to follow the sport as well or as closely as they used to.

The gutting of the free live timing page and the huge shortcomings in the paid version (price cut notwithstanding) is another example of how those who are supposed to be marketing the sport are getting it wrong at the risk of alienating its fan base.

F1 Fanatic rating

Rating two out of five

The official F1 Live Timing App 2014 can be purchased through Google Play for Android, iTunes for Apple

Official F1 Live Timing App 2014

Format: Android, Apple
Publisher: Formula One Digital Media
Published: March 2014
Price: £9.99

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112 comments on Official F1 Live Timing App 2014 reviewed

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  1. Surya_K (@surya) said on 23rd March 2014, 12:17

    IMO, the full F1 app should be free. Why eke out money out of an app, when providing the full info of the sport could help garner more fans?

    • AlbertC (@albertc) said on 23rd March 2014, 14:50

      Because they probably have analyzed the market and realized that the income of the app is greater than the money brought in by possible new fans.

      Call them greedy suits, but they’re not stupid.

      • DaveD (@daved) said on 24th March 2014, 17:46

        At the same time, don’t give them too much credit. I’ve sat on the other side of this debate MANY times when we were shipping software products and trying to decide which part should be free, which parts the base package and which premium.
        It’s not an exact science AT ALL, and mostly comes down to test groups, polls and in the end…a gut feel by the guy(s) making the decision. And when the next regime comes in, they usually reverse whatever the previous guys did. That doesn’t make the first one right or the second one wrong. It’s all educated guesses which often turn out wrong.
        I’m not going to pretend to have enough insight into their commercial rights, country by country to know where I fall on this one.
        Personally, I would like to see it free because I always fall on the side of inclusion and then upselling something with real value. The Timing and Scoring is one of the first things that got me really into F1 races and I hate to see other’s lose that. But then, it’s not a lot of money.

        • Paid mobile app, I can understand. But they have to change the one on the website to just colored dots instead of numbers? That’s just low.

    • Mads (@mads) said on 23rd March 2014, 16:05

      @surya
      I don’t think the fully fledged live timing would draw in any new fans.
      It only really works once you know something about F1 and watch it on TV anyway.
      Youtube videos of former races and events however….

    • pastaman (@pastaman) said on 23rd March 2014, 20:05

      This is Formula 1, the word “free” does not compute.

      • mikeylikesit said on 24th March 2014, 19:55

        Nope, it sure doesn’t. In fact, I’m surprised that the word “free” isn’t blocked when on an F1 thread. :)

    • Hemz Shaw (@hemzshaw) said on 24th March 2014, 15:39

      F1 makes money from TV predominantly. So if they give you a very good app outside of TV for free, they are loosing eyeballs and hence the money. So they need to milk the app too, right?

      • Carlos Fandango said on 19th April 2014, 23:01

        No, because the app is used while watching the race – it’s not a standalone offering.

  2. Oletros (@oletros) said on 23rd March 2014, 12:17

    Is really the mobile app tied to one device? You can’t use on the phone and tablet?

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 23rd March 2014, 12:21

      @oletros I tried and couldn’t find any means of doing so. If anyone out there has found a way to please do say!

      • Elliot Horwood said on 23rd March 2014, 12:22

        you just re download the purchase on another device, works with apple anyway and someone on twitter got it working with android. goes by your apple ID or GMAIL acccount i imagine

      • Spencer White (@jojobudgie) said on 23rd March 2014, 12:23

        I also tried, I also failed.

      • Elliot Horwood (@elliothorwoodf1) said on 23rd March 2014, 12:29

        Just looked again and you need to go to ‘settings’ then click ‘event store’ then there should be an option to ‘restore purchases’. Just login with apple ID and it works :) hope that helps

      • MattDS said on 23rd March 2014, 19:21

        I just bought it on my Android tablet (Nexus 7) and when I started the app on my Android phone it registered the season pass as well. Don’t see the problem.

        Also, for me it gets a 7 for now. I experienced no crashes or loading failures. I also had the faulty countdown and the Massa/Kobayashi bug, this is why I’m not giving it full points.

        For the rest it just works great with good information and a smooth experience even on my rather slow phone.
        And the price this year is a very fair one.

        All in all I’m happy I bought it.

      • JCost (@jcost) said on 24th March 2014, 12:30

        The free version has become of little use and I’m thinking about the paid app but most users found it buggy and I’m afraid I will pay for an app less tested and fineshed than Lotus car.

        But some users of Android seem to be happy, what’s your OS @keithcollantine? Android or iOS?

    • falken (@falken) said on 23rd March 2014, 14:08

      The .apk file for Android users will no doubt already be floating around the local pirate-themed dock just like last years. Though the price is so much more sane this year, if it has actually worked I might just have bought it; especially as the Kangaroos were killed off.
      Oh well.

      • FOM Fan (@) said on 23rd March 2014, 18:18

        Yes, but unlike last year, the APK is free, but the premium stuff is an in-app purchase… so you can’t just install the APK and get the premium stuff for free this year…

    • Mark (@marlarkey) said on 24th March 2014, 10:36

      I’m running the Android Tablet version on my Windows tablet PC using the Bluestacks Android emulator…. seems to work ok :)

  3. I’m surprised to hear you had such problems with it – I used it trackside at the Australian GP on Saturday & Sunday over the mobile network, and expected trouble getting enough reception to sustain the data, but it was flawless all weekend for me (on an iPad Air).

    I don’t work for them, but my only complaint would be that it’s too sensitive to movement when you’re dragging a finger to change the viewing position on the track, I found that difficult to control (having used all of the previous versions).

    Hope you have better luck next week!

    • Actually, I forgot about stopped cars showing as still in the top ten for much of the race. Other than THAT, it worked fine…! (And the radio coverage of Friday practice was better than the Aussie commentators, too.)

    • John Anthony (@thejohnx) said on 24th March 2014, 17:58

      Sounds like you got lucky. I had all the same problems Keith encountered.

    • SoLiDG (@solidg) said on 8th June 2014, 18:21

      I have pretty good experiences on my ipad mini.. bet it’s more stable than the android version (as is often the case).

      It’s far from perfect, I always need to put off pit radio and turn it back on to get it to work.
      For the rest it’s really stable.

  4. James Muscat (@jamesremuscat) said on 23rd March 2014, 12:30

    The gutting of the free live timing page and the huge shortcomings in the paid version (price cut notwithstanding) is another example of how those who are supposed to be marketing the sport are getting it wrong at the risk of alienating its fan base.

    Hear, hear. At a time when other streams of motorsport seem to be going to great lengths to make timing and data available to fans (even the Florida Winter Series had free live timing!) FOM are going completely the other way.

    They’ve also crushed the efforts of the small number of third-party developers who took the free timing data and built applications, both desktop and mobile, that far exceeded the capabilities of the in-house app… but then that’s probably intentional.

  5. RobTsintas (@robtsintas) said on 23rd March 2014, 12:31

    My experience of trying out the Android version was awful. Massa and Kobayashi were showing in points-scoring positions for most of the race, the team radio messages (a new feature) were not working, and I gave up on trying to delay the timing by 30 seconds (to sync with the Sky Go stream I was watching) when it kept jumping around between live and several minutes’ delay!

    For a sport that likes to portray a high tech image, it’s utterly pathetic.
    If they must try to make money from timing, they should just charge for a log-in to access to the data stream itself and leave the app-writing to anybody who fancies a crack at it. I expect they’d all do a much better job.

    • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 23rd March 2014, 19:07

      Massa and Kobayashi were showing in points-scoring positions for most of the race

      It did this on iOS as well, and I’m guessing this is one of the main bugs to which @keithcollantine refers. As far as stability I imagine that will depend on your device to some degree. I’ve had no crashes at all, but the faulty data throughout the race was pretty disappointing (it’s in the replay if you download that as well). The bigger disappointment for me has been the response of their twitter account. When Soft Pauer sold the app they also managed the twitter account and whenever there was data showing incorrectly (which did happen on occasion) you could contact them quickly on twitter and they would respond in kind to let you know they were working on fixing it. Often times you didn’t even have to contact them as they’d already posted that they were aware of a problem and were working on it. Then shortly thereafter they’d usually have a fix. I seam to remember one race once where they couldn’t fix an issue and they apologized for it and explained that it couldn’t be fixed during the duration of the race. Seemingly with the app now being taken under the roof of Bernie’s goons, the twitter account was handed over to them as well, and much like the official website (which has no contact information posted anywhere) and its twitter account, if you tweet at them you are pretty much guaranteed no response. They also don’t appear to have posted anything acknowledging the obvious corrupt data issues they were having during the race. Fan interaction is something FOM does not care for. Clearly fans are viewed by Bernie as a nuisance, not the lifeblood that supports his false empire. Personally I would gladly go back to paying what I have the last several years if the app still had real customer service and went back to illustrative landscapes rather than the new god awful Tron style maps they’ve chosen this year. I hope they can get their issues sorted out, because so far the app is a definite step backwards from the Soft Pauer app we had even as far back as three years ago, and in mobile app development that’s quite a long time.

  6. Palle (@palle) said on 23rd March 2014, 12:32

    I paid the equivavelent of 9,30 Euro’s for the app, which is cheaper than £9,99. I used it during the qualifying where it made me able to follow specific drivers sector times, even if FOM TV feed through RTL (German TV) and the internet feed of SKY or BBC (I don’t know which of them it was). This was a grand experience as I could foresee a drivers good lap was coming up and I knew in advance when he had given up and took an in lap.
    During the race it also helped me some, but here I discovered several faults in the data, suddenly Kimi wasn’t displayed at all and often I saw that the overtakes was showed with a lot of delay in the app.
    I wasn’t too impressed with the handling of the view of the track and the list of sector times, but I’m sure they will provide new developments for the coming races.
    I have also experienced DNF’s (crashes) but I’m looking positively forward to see how the app develops over the year. Maybe it will be at the front row before the end of the season:-)

  7. andrew_s (@andrew_s) said on 23rd March 2014, 12:32

    try F1LT. Android, Windows, BB OS and IOS I think. http://f1lt.pl/ I have the Windows and Android versions and they work a treat. All you need is an F1.com username and password.

    • Diego (@ironcito) said on 23rd March 2014, 17:34

      During the Aus race, I couldn’t get it to work reliably. More often than not, it showed no data. And when it works, it shows the same info as the free feed, no sector times, no pit stops, etc.

    • Jarv F150 (@jarvf150) said on 23rd March 2014, 19:45

      The 2.0 version no longer seems to work but the 3.0 version seems OK.
      Finding it was a little hard though – seems that FOM don’t like the competition.

      I use it mostly in replay mode though as I often don’t get to watch live.

  8. Bloggsworth said on 23rd March 2014, 12:32

    I refuse to pay for any more gold taps for the Ecclestone girls – I’ll just go without.

  9. Acaseeker said on 23rd March 2014, 12:33

    For desktop users, if you have android phone, there is android emulator for PC called Bluestacks, you can sign in with your google ID, and download paid app. I am not sure that it will work both on your phone/tablet and bluestacks, but it works without any problem.

  10. Ron Mon (@henslayer) said on 23rd March 2014, 12:33

    For desktop and laptop use try F1LT. It’s free and works very nicely.

    https://openrepos.net/content/pieczar/f1lt

  11. The vastly reduced price is very welcome. I’ve used the iOS live timing app since it’s inception back in 2009 and literally cannot imagine watching a race without my iPad. I found the new app to be much better than is described in this article though, the only bug I experienced was Massa was showing in 9th position for much of the race. He retired at the first corner, other than that it was flawless for me.

  12. Cosmas (@cosmas) said on 23rd March 2014, 12:37

    I tried the free version because i thought it would have some basic timming info according to the description on the official site. Following the australian gp free practice i realized that timming was scrambled with mixed actual real times and fake ones. These was the case for all the following sessions when i realized that the free app was actually a demo one as was the 2013 app also.
    They could at least write it somewhere in the description. I really felt cheated… this was no mistake it was on purpose… really bad
    As for the paid version i still think its too expensive when you consider it would last for only 8 months.
    I would gladly have paid it if this would be for all the future seasons but its not.
    How hard can it be to have one STABLE app for all seasons?

    • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 23rd March 2014, 19:12

      @cosmas both the free and paid apps have demos for every session, but they should prompt you to join a live session if it is underway. If it doesn’t do that during the next live session try closing it and relaunching it. You should get a dialogue box that pops up and says something like “There is currently a live session for Malaysian GP FP1 underway, would you like to join?” with Yes and No buttons underneath.

  13. Mashiat (@) said on 23rd March 2014, 12:40

    @keithcollantine Can you review this great website and live feed website I know. Here’s the name: F1 Fanatic!

  14. iXeman said on 23rd March 2014, 12:41

    I can not agree with your opnion on the app.

    The app works fine on my Nexus 5. Yeah, there were a few interruptions, but the app recovers quickly within one second. Eventhough the app reacts directly to my taps, so no accordance to you.
    But during the race, Felipe Massa hangs on ninth place, even if he was taken out on the first corner, so you could not see who was actual on that position.

    Anyhow the app impresses with additional team radios which are not broadcasted on television. This works fine during the race and you could hear e.g. an angry Vettel or the Lotus team calling her drivers for a stall.

    In my opinion, the app is worth the money.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 23rd March 2014, 22:00

      Anyhow the app impresses with additional team radios which are not broadcasted on television.

      I didn’t hear any which weren’t also broadcast on the television so I can’t verify that claim. That said as the app crashed so often there may have been some I didn’t hear. Still it would be interesting to hear if there were more unhappy messages from Vettel as a lot of those were played during the race.

  15. krustylicious said on 23rd March 2014, 12:43

    The andorid version is usable on multiple devices (Android only). The app was awful on my tab 2 but fine on my note2. As you said the timing issues were apparent on race day, which could/should have been tested pre season. Massa was shown as “stop” p9 for most of the race ..

    That said Dorna has taken the view that £19.99 for the motogp android app is acceptable and it isn’t ..

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 23rd March 2014, 12:51

      I tried that before and have just tried again but it isn’t working for me.

      As other people seem to be having different experiences to me I’ve taken the line out of the review to avoid confusing anyone.

    • Frans said on 23rd March 2014, 15:52

      Yes, the MotoGP app is ridiculously priced! Basically they charge that much because it’s the more popular sport. The fact is that they charge for the SBK app at a much lower price.
      The pricing of the MotoGP app makes the Official F1 app pricing looks very generous. And FYI (and anyone else for that matter), the pricing of F1 app is different between countries (or at least different between currencies), and that made me very happy because I paid the app for the equivalent of $8.6 or £5.25! Mind you that this amount, while looked small, it’s actually a lot of money. I don’t know how they priced it, either they try to have a nice number for the price and put it under the psychological barrier (99000) or they actually pricing it based on the economic situation of each country.

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