Sounders FC unveil iPhone app … if only it could score some goals

As many of you know, I am a huge supporter of the Seattle Sounders FC (despite our inability at the moment to finish off opponents). So, I was certainly excited to download the team’s official iPhone app today, complete with schedules, rosters and a new fan polling feature called The Pulse. It looks to be a great game-day resource, and I am sure that I will at least try to use at Saturday’s home match against the Chicago Fire. The reason I use the word “try” is because  Qwest Field — as I’ve noted before — has proven to be a nasty bottleneck for those of us who use iPhones on AT&T’s network.

Wishful thinking for the upcoming match against Portland?

At the home opener last month, I couldn’t send text messages or make phone calls during half time (and neither could the iPhone-wielding AT&T customers around me).

Has anyone else experienced this? And do the Verizon customers who just picked up an iPhone experience the same challenges? (Let me know your experience on Saturday at the game).

In a press release, Sounders FC owner Joe Roth noted that “The Pulse” feature will allow the team to “gauge the emotions and interests of our fans in real-time.”

Sounds pretty cool, but only if you can get on the network.

We actually talked about the congestion problems on AT&T’s network at Qwest Field with RootMetrics CEO Paul Griff two weeks ago as part of the GeekWire podcast.

Here’s what Griff had to say:

“There are two issues around a situation like that. One of them has to do with coverage, and I haven’t looked at our own maps that recently….,” said Griff. “There used to be one corner of the stadium where — a coverage problem. But the real issue is congestion. You get 30,000, 40,000, 50,000 people using their phones simultaneously, and it is just a congestion problem.”

Anyway, I am looking forward to trying out the new app, which was developed in conjunction with Seattle-based Pop.

I just hope no other iPhone users choose to do the same.

UPDATE: I heard back from POP founder Bill Predmore who tells me that the app is designed to work both for fans inside and outside the stadium. And he notes there might be a little surprise for those fans who shake their phones during the game. Hmm, I am looking forward to giving that a try on Saturday.

There are many features, like live game audio and match details that were primarily designed to provide fans outside the stadium with a great way to experience the match. Other features, like the schedule and roster, work great in the stadium even if connectivity is a challenge. We’ve also hidden a fun feature for those attending a match—give the phone a shake when you’re using the app to check it out.

In terms of an Android app, as one reader suggested, Predmore directed that specific question to the Sounders. I have an email into them, and I’ll update when I find out more.

John Cook is co-founder of GeekWire. Follow on Twitter: @geekwirenews and Facebook.

 

  • Anonymous

    Please try to find out when an android version is coming out, thanks.

    • johnhcook

      I am looking into that. Stay tuned.

  • http://twitter.com/InfiniteHoops Tosh Meston

    Hehe. AT&T’s poor coverage at Qwest Field is John’s #1 pet peeve.

    • johnhcook

      You are right. This is one of my big pet peeves. In fact, that would be a good post, wouldn’t it? My top 10 tech pet peeves. :)

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ted-Marlow/100001906709174 Ted Marlow

        last i checked the sign on the stadium still says qwest…they get their wireless through verizon. why would they want to improve atts coverage?

  • Rossi

    I’ve downloaded the app and will be at the game on Saturday. I can almost never use my phone in the stadium (and yes, it’s on the AT&T network). I’ll give it a shot on Saturday. Thanks John.

  • http://twitter.com/Justin_Wilcox Justin Wilcox

    Hoping the shake gesture plays a clip of the stadium yelling…well, what we yell when an opponent’s goalie takes a goal kick.

  • johnhcook

    I got some answers to questions from Kenton Olson, director of digital media for the Sounders. Here’s what Kenton had to to say about and Android app and the connectivity issues:

    “We are evaluating what the next platform will be as we speak; however we are committed to making sure we have a quality feature set in place and create the most enjoyable user experience we can on our first app. Once we feel we have accomplished this we will begin work with POP on our next platform. As for timing we don’t have a firm date in place yet. If we keep getting the great feedback we are the hope is that date is sooner rather than later, but it is really all dependent on what our users think and how the app performs.

    As a side note, I do want to let you know that we spent a lot of time making sure as many of the features work in the stadium (even under no data circumstances) as possible. News, Roster, all stadium information will be cached locally so if no data connections are available you can still obtain the information you want. Also we have done a lot of working making sure that the connections to data dependent features such as the Pulse, Live Feed and Match Blog pull as little data as possible to keep the load to a minimum.”

    That’s good news for those of us who struggle with connectivity issues in Qwest, so I’ll try it out on Saturday and report back on what I find. I encourage others to share their experiences too.