An iPhone App for Texas Longhorns Fans – Hook ‘Em

Go Longhorns is an iPhone app that is dedicated to helping you keep up with your favorite Texas Longhorn (University of Texas) teams and players.

As I’ve mentioned a few times – or maybe more :) – here, I live in Austin (home of the primary UT campus) and I’m a big Longhorns fan. So this program had me at ‘Hello’, immediately grabbed my attention – and I’ve been trying it out since last night.

What Does It Do:

The app is divided into three main sections, which are available with one tap from its bottom nav bar – I’m not counting ‘Home’, since it simply displays the ‘Hook ‘Em Horns’ image shown in the screencap at the top of this post. The three sections are: ‘News’, ‘Schedule’, and ‘Roster’.

As the section titles indicate, Go Longhorns brings together the latest news from multiple sources, schedule, and roster information for a number of the most popular UT sports teams. At the moment the sports covered are: football, mens and womens basketball, and baseball.

News sources include the ‘Daily Texan’, ‘The Austin American Statesman’, and ’40 Acres Sports’.

The Schedule and Roster areas offer what you would expect – current player lists and schedules for the sports covered. The News section is essentially a compilation of RSS feeds that relate to those same sports.

What Does It Do Well:

If you’re a big UT fan, then Go Longhorns probably saves you some effort in searching out latest news – getting together several sources of news and other useful team information for you in one package.

What Could Be Improved:

Like I said, this app had me at Hello. I’m a Longhorns fan. I want plenty of Longhorns sports news. Unfortunately, the app has been almost losing me since the Hello portion of things. Clearly, I like the concept of the program, but not its current execution.

My two primary complaints are: that it does not have enough content as yet, and it’s just not very ‘made for the iPhone’.

What I mean by the not enough content point is that 1) I’d like to see more sports covered (UT is a powerhouse and has excellent programs in sports like Tennis, Volleyball, Track & Field, Softball, Swimming, and so on) 2) News and schedules and rosters are a great start, but I’d like some bells & whistles – some Longhorns wallpapers for use on the iPhone, player photos, history and records in the various sports, UT trivia quizzes – something more than just the basics I guess.

The second point is probably the bigger issue for me right now. Go Longhorns just doesn’t feel like an application that is tailored in any way for the iPhone. All of the RSS feeds it uses offer very, very short article summaries – as in you click on a news item with a headline that says ‘Profile of Colt Mcoy’, and you get to a page that shows you a one-line sub-headline like ‘A closer look at the Longhorns quarterback’. This page is formatted for the iPhone, but of course has almost no content. When you click to read the full article (from any of the news sources) you get to a page that is not optimized for the iPhone at all. A page that has text that is far too small to read comfortably.

So you need to pinch and zoom and do a lot of horizontal scrolling to read any of the actual news articles. That just doesn’t work for me. I’m not going to do continual horizontal scrolling in order to read things when there are so many sites and apps that don’t force me to make that kind of extra effort.

Basically, I’m left wondering what about the program has been designed with the iPhone in mind – and I can’t come up with an answer. My view is when an app is in the $4.99 price bracket, it needs to feel and act very much like it has been ‘made for iPhone’.

Summary:

If you’re not fussed about all the ‘optimized for iPhone’ side of things, and you’re a Longhorns sports fan, then this application is probably for you. It has a good collection of news sources – and hopefully more features will be added in future updates.

You can find Go Longhorns in the App Store now at $4.99.