I had a chance to sit down with SportsPage: Your Sports Magazine app creator Benjamin Monnig this week to talk about his iOS app. Ben was very easy to talk to and genuinely enthusiastic about his product but not in a fake, overzealous salesperson type of way. This was a real person talking about a great app.
After some greetings and informal conversation, I asked him about how he got started in the app dev business and Sportspage in particular. He mentioned that he’s been at it for a while. He made a couple attempts during his college years and “learned some lessons”. He mentioned getting burned a couple times by folks he had doing the development work so he decided to take app development on himself.
As for Sportspage, he saw there was a need for an app where he could get information specific to his own favorite team. He had searched for some with the functionality he sought but was left wanting. So, he created his own.
We started talking about the app itself since he wanted some feedback regarding how it functioned. I mentioned a couple things. First, there are no push notifications and second, the functions of the icons in the upper right corner don’t act like I expect them to act.
Regarding the push notifications, Ben’s reasoning was that he wasn’t ready to implement because he does not want to bombard the user with too many notifications. He’s working on some ideas to get users meaningful data without overwhelming them with push notices. I’m thankful for that.
As far as the icons (see the image), the feedback was nothing major, but I felt like I had been conditioned for certain icons to mean certain things. In this case, I expected on icon to take care of all the sharing functions and the other to allow for commenting. Again, with a little getting used to, I understand their context in this app but we may see a change here.
I also asked him “What were some of the biggest challenges with creating this application?” He replied that the main time consuming activity was the selection of the news sources. Mainstream teams were fairly easy but some more obscure teams (i.e. smaller colleges) were more difficult. Finding them, vetting them and making sure they fit in his model was the most difficult.
I wrapped up the interview with a question and concern – I wanted to know if his app’s access had been blocked yet by any content providers or if he’d been contacted by any of them. He said “Not yet.” To avoid any trouble with the providers, he said he’s careful to not attempt to claim any ownership and he pulls in the data that’s available via rss and twitter et al. There may be some other technologies in there but I didn’t’ pry too much as to what all was in the secret sauce.
Outside the interview, I’ve tested out the application. They offer a free (ad supported) version and a $0.99 version. As far as I can tell, they are identical except for an ad bar at the bottom. I have the free one right this second but I’d easily pay the dollar for the functionality provided and to stop seeing the annoying ads. Based on my conversation, I trust that Ben will be over seeing some upgrades (this is just my guess and not a guarantee) – and thus, I think it’s worth the modest investment.
Entertainment 4.5/5 –
The news sources are preselected for you but the content seems fairly comprehensive. Most of the pro and college teams that I would add were there except for my college alma mater. As a grad of California State University Sacramento, I like to keep tabs on the Hornets but I’ll have to stick with the local news sources for information, at least for a while.
So, if you find customized news entertaining and you follow major sports teams, this is a great way to go.
Ease of use – 4.5/5
The only knock I have is that there’s no link to send the data directly to face book and the icons are a little misleading (for one who has looked at thousands of apps). Otherwise the app was very intuitive. I had my sports page up and running within minutes.
Likelihood of continued use 5/5
This app will move to my “news” section and be checked for headlines daily. This is a down period for me personally since I mainly follow the NFL but there is even enough going on there to check back on a regular basis.
Graphics/Sound – 4/5
There are no sounds but as a reader, I don’t really need them. My sound is off 80% of the time anyway. The app graphics are fine – fonts are consistent and easy to read. Nothing is too “in your face.” It just works and that’s what I’d expect from an app like this.
Overall 4.5 –
It’s a great sports news app with just a couple rough edges. When we were wrapping up the interview, I asked Ben “What would you want readers to know about SportsPage?” He replied that the app was “built by a sports fan, for a sports fan.” You can really feel that when you talk to Ben and it’s good to know when you use the application. Thumbs up! Get it here.