The US Open iPad app is one of the better attempts at a tennis app. That may sound like faint praise but it isn’t a sport that regularly covers itself with app glory.
The start screen just shows you the most regularly useful content, rather than trying to present even handed journeys to everywhere. You can see what’s happening at a glance and swipe across to see a number of key courts. They’re also making heavy use of multiple Twitter feeds, broken down by court which makes each stream a bit easier to handle.
The app doesn’t have the serving information from the website. Including that would help give more of a sense of what’s actually happening for those using the app as replacement coverage. Also noticeably missing (esp for the US Open) is any notification when there is a rain delay. I’ve repeatedly thought the app had stalled when actually play has been suspended. Not sure why ‘In Progress’ didn’t just get swapped for ‘Suspended’. Maybe it did on the wireframes.
I was also impressed with the display of the draw, especially after the failures of the Wimbledon digital experience on that score. Wimbledon managed to fit the same depth of the draw on their (scary) website as they had in their phone app. They achieved this by putting the content in frames and going a bit overkill on navigation. Quite a (un)impressive feat.
The same thing happens with US Open website and mobile app (also from IBM), although the website is not quite as bad as no frame is used and you can scroll to use more of the screen real estate.
But the iPad app is dramatically different and is able to show an entire quarter of the draw for five rounds (and the ad gets more prominence here too). If you tap on the match it brings up the score, something that the interface doesn’t really convey.
The only problem I had with this was that they’ve deviated from the conventional left to right for the full draw and instead arrange each quarter into a quarter of the screen. You can see this if you zoom out but I was initially confused when I scrolled to the bottom of the page looking for the second half of the draw. Scrolling from left to right when you are in the middle of this page is a bit of a wobbly experience.
Oddly the Slam Tracker data that IBM make such a big deal about is really buried. The only way to get to it is to go into the Live score pages and tap on the match. Again the interface doesn’t suggest the match is tappable. And it doesn’t work from the homescreen. I only discovered it because I read elsewhere that the app included Slam Tracker and went hunting for it.
It’ll be interesting to see what IBM do with this for the Australian Open in January. Although I probably won’t make much use of it, with most matches happening while I’m asleep or pre morning coffee consumption.