Review: STLToday.com Cardinals iPhone App

by on May 6, 2010 · 1 comment

By now you’re probably aware that the folks at STLToday.com released a mobile app dedicated exclusively to their Cardinals coverage.

I received a review copy of the app and have been using it on my iPhone for the last week.  (The app is also available for Android, Blackberry, Palm and Windows Mobile.)

At $2.99 to purchase the app from stltoday.com/cardsapp or your phone’s app store, I was admittedly skeptical how they would present the information in a way that made the app worth it versus reading via the STLToday.com mobile site (m.stltoday.com) or just the full site on today’s modern mobile browser.

Personally, I think that the STLToday.com site loads slowly in my computer’s browser, much less on my mobile – so for me, it boils down to what the app can offer versus the mobile site.

Well, let’s take a look…

The app loads up the “Updates” in the news tab as the front page.  This is the section containing all of the latest articles from STLToday on the Cardinals.  Anything and everything that is about the Cardinals will show up here.

The app is more up to date than the mobile site here, as the mobile site was showing me the latest update was prior to noon.

Also, if you’re only trying to find Cards news, the mobile site makes you filter it out on your own.

Hitting the big arrow button at the top brings up a screen where you can refresh the app to bring you all of the latest articles posted to STLToday.com or mark everything in the app as read.  Unread items in the app are bolded as shown above, unread items in standard font.  You can also e-mail a friend stories from this screen.

Notice the Bird Land blog is available on the app as well.  I hope that they will add the Cardinal Beat blog as well, not sure why that didn’t make it into the original version.

The photos at left are taken from within an article, accessible by tapping on any headline from the previous menu.  The embedded photo and article scale nicely to the iPhone’s screen and everything loads very quickly once the app’s initial update is complete.  Every time you load the app, there is a short time spent updating, but once that is complete, navigating within the app is almost instant.

Once on the article screen there is a button at top to load the “full story” which is just a rendering of the website, no real need to use it that I’ve found, as the full content loads without using that button.  Again we have the arrow button, at the bottom this time, which provides further options: Open link in full browser (again, I don’t see a need for this), Email Article (to send to a friend), or you can post the article’s link to Facebook and/or Twitter.  As someone who uses social media extensively, I appreciate the last two options and their ease of use.

Speaking of social media, the Twitter feeds of Derrick Goold, Bernie Miklasz, and Joe Strauss are included in the app. You can’t do much with them, there’s no easy way to reply or retweet – something that might be convenient. But for those not inclined to use Twitter otherwise, it’s a nice feature if you want to know what these three guys are saying outside of their normal writing.  There appears to be a bit of lag time between actual posting on Twitter and the items showing up in the app, but that’s likely due to Twitter’s search API more than the app itself.

I’m sure you’ve noticed the position tabs in the app from the previous photos. Those drill down into individual player sorts that allow you to find any articles that reference that player on the STLToday.com site.

I love this feature – how simple to choose a specific player, perhaps your fave or a youngster you don’t know much about, and quickly filter out all of the content available at STLToday about that player.  The articles within those player tabs behave just like the others.

The remaining features of the app are a bit more cosmetic, at least for me.  The Cards’ schedule is included, along with a button that allows you to call the ticket office to purchase seats for upcoming games.  I don’t know how much control MLB exerts over these types of things, but I’d like to see box scores for past games and perhaps some stats for the starting pitchers for upcoming games.  This portion of the app could be much more powerful with more information or function, but it’s clearly a secondary concern to the content here, which is understandable.

Additionally, there is a tab that is nothing but game photos and their captions.  Again, something that is fun to look at every so often, but kind of secondary to the content provided elsewhere in the app.

I don’t have screen caps of them, but the other two options at the bottom, “Saved” and “Settings” are important too.  You can save articles or blog entries, etc for easy future access within the app.  The settings tab allows you to set a Twitter account for sending out links in your Twitter feed, as previously mentioned.

Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down?

I give the app thumbs up.

Understand that my borderline ADD makes me prone to things like this that can deliver exactly the content or result that I am looking for in a simple and quick manner.

It is lacking in a couple of places where I think the STLToday.com folks can add value for app users, particularly since they’re shelling out $2.99 for something that is essentially free otherwise, but the basic design and function of the app is very solid.

If you get along just fine with the STLToday.com mobile site, I probably wouldn’t recommend this app for you, particularly when you can access the mobile site for free.

If you are looking specifically for Cardinals content from STLToday.com without having to sort through other St. Louis sports news (not that I don’t care about the Blues or the Rams, I just get focused during baseball season) – and in a vehicle that delivers the content very quickly and simply presented – this app is definitely for you.

[Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product for the purposes of using and evaluating it for this review.]

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Writing about the Cardinals and other loosely associated topics since 2008, I've grown tired of the April run-out only to disappoint Cardinal fans everywhere by mid-May. I do not believe in surrendering free outs.
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