Just imagine a Tour de France app that offers up live minute-by-minute race updates, live GPS tracking on stage maps and course profiles, highlight videos, results and standings, rider profiles and much more. Well keep imagining, because the app from developers ASO (Amaury Sport Organisation) fails on almost every level. In principle it looks solid enough, but the problems for Cyclo started at about the same time as the race started – although the 2011 event was clearly underway the app’s countdown still had some way to go. Once the tech had finally caught up with real events the commentary feed proved well written and had a friendly, personal tone and is far and away the app’s most successful feature. Unlike Stage 1 though, it was all downhill for the Official Tour de France App 2011 from here.
For a start the suggestion of “live GPS tracking” is rather (probably not intentional) misleading. Don’t you think we would have heard of individual riders were going to be sporting trackers? Well the reason we hadn’t heard that is simply that they don’t. Instead the tracking is provided by support vehicles which then feed accumulated data back to official Tour de France servers from where it is syndicated to various media and technology organisations. But this “little white lie” isn’t the big problem with the ASO app – the integration of data is poorly handled, it lacks intuitive navigation and the rate of software crash is marginally higher than a badly clustered peloton; in fact Day 2/Stage 2 saw the app fail so frequently that it barley ever got past the Skoda splash-screen advert. Cyclo clearly isn’t alone in experiencing such catastrophic app failure either if feedback on the Apple store is anything to go by: “…all it does is crash at the first page.”, “Very poor, crash, crash, crash..”, “Avoid!”, “Skoda should be ashamed.”
On the off-chance that you can get the app to run it might have been a nice touch to include details of up-coming stages (or indeed the opportunity to go back and revisit previous ones) but here again ASO fail miserably. It really is hard to find anything good to say about the product and its failure is made all the more disappointing when you consider what a wasted opportunity this is. The world’s greatest cycling event really does deserve a world-class app to support it and this is certainly far from that. Remember these succinctly wise words: ‘Avoid!’
Amaury Sport Organisation, iPhone £0.59, iPad £2.99