When we conduct a golf app review for iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad or Android, we do try our best to cover as many devices as possible and occasionally something surprising happens that baffles us. This happened with Free Golf GPS & Scorecard, a popular app from developers Swing by Swing.
And sometimes, the problems with an app lie beyond blaming the developer for designing poor software…
What is Free Golf GPS & Scorecard?
Free Golf GPS and Scorecard is very much a self-explanatory app. It is a free to download app which offers detailed GPS information on almost 35,000 courses across the globe at present. In addition to measuring yardages, the app also allows you to keep record of your score and analyse how you have played statistically by breaking your round down into the different types of shots you played.
With the app you also get a free website account on which you can view all these stats in more detail and compare it with other rounds, as well as upload any pictures you have taken.
The Best Features?
Free Golf GPS and Scorecard really does have some excellent features. First up, it is free of charge to download and use. Which is always a positive in these more austere times. Other features that are very impressive are:
- Great Coverage - Very accurate and the fact that the developers now offer course information on almost 35,000 courses around the globe (and are dedicated to mapping every golf course in the world) means your course is likely to be included. If it is not, you can send the developer the data yourself, or for a small fee, ask them to map the course for you.
- Rangefinder – The Rangefinder is one of the best and most accurate I have used. Accurate to within a couple of yards when working well. There have been issues at a few courses with coverage and it does eat up your battery when playing (you’ll need a fully charged device before you start the round) but for a free app, the rangefinder is very accurate.
- Scorecard – Simple to use, if a little time consuming at first to get used to the level of statistics you can enter per round. Remember, don’t do this on the green after you have putted out, get to the next tee and while you are waiting to tee off, enter all your information in then and you won’t annoy the group behind!
The Big Problem?
Up until late September last year, the scores for this app would have been very high regardless of the device that you had it installed upon. It worked well on both Android and Apple devices and then something calamitous happened that no developer could foresee.
Apple released IO6, with the first, awful incarnation of Apple Maps, automatically switching its devices from using the perfectly reliable (and working) Google Maps, to using their own in house software for mapping services, GPS and whatnot.
Any user unfortunate enough to download the new upgrade last September/October and then load up the software may well have been in for a surprise. The new Apple Maps was utterly dreadful and appallingly inaccurate. We are not just talking about a few yards wrong here and there, we are talking entire cities being wrongly represented on maps, other historical locations being hundreds of miles from where they actually are and golf courses simply vanishing, or more puzzlingly, disappearing under water.
Of course, an app like Free Golf GPS & Scorecard is completely reliant on the accuracy of map data. Without it, the major selling points of the app are rendered useless. Yes you can still use parts of the app, such as the scorecard, but what’s the point if you need the app for yardages and it has your golf course located four miles offshore in a windfarm?
This is where we feel for developers, this is an outstanding free app but was rendered almost unusable for the majority of Apple users due to Apple’s own incompetence. Android users of course, happily continued using the app with no problems throughout this time.
Fortunately, now there is a Google Maps app available for Apple device users to use, which can eradicate a problem that should never have surfaced in the first place.
If you have a device that it works on but if you were one of the few who upgraded to IO6 and had all the issues with Apple Maps, then the app only scores 3/10 (and that is not the fault of the developer) unless you’ve switched back to Google Maps when it scores a resounding 9/10 again!