Sidepodcast // All for F1 and F1 for all

F1 on the iPad - Soft Pauer timing app // New and improved live timing on your mobile device

Published by Mr. C

The start of a new Formula 1 season brings with it the introduction of a refreshed F1 Timing App. Now in it's third season, the 2011 update brings many new and exciting features.

Live positioning of drivers and gaps
Credit: Soft Pauer

We last looked at this timing application on the iPhone back in 2009 and since then it's migrated up the app food chain onto the much larger iPad. There is no question that the 9.7" screen offers a considerably better viewing experience over its sister device, in fact it feels as though the Timing App was designed for this format all along.

Whilst the app is still available on the iPod, iPhone and now also Android devices, once you've gone this big you won't want to go back.

Erase and rewind

Aside from interface enlargements, the development team at Soft Pauer have not been sitting idle. Application start up is now almost instantaneous, popup notifications let you know when a session is about to begin and the whole experience takes on a more polished feel compared to years gone by.

The most significant upgrade for this year is the ability to pause and rewind live action. This is a huge feature and means that even if you're watching delayed coverage, or have recorded a race to watch later in the day, you can still make use of this app. Just wind back the slider to the start of the race and sync it up with your own coverage. Every motor sport timing system needs this feature and Soft Pauer have raised the benchmark for racing events the world over.

If you’re a timing junkie you must buy this application

The ability to pause action is also beneficial to users who are lucky enough to enjoy live and uninterrupted coverage too. If you missed where positions were made during the hectic opening laps of a race, just scrub back and watch them change.

The functionality becomes even more useful once a session is over as racepack data can be downloaded once the chequered flag has fallen, allowing users to replay and review any incidents as many times as desired. For this reason alone, if you're a timing junkie, you must buy this application.

All corners are now numbered and selectable, so you can watch the first corner action up close and personal. Or you can pick a driver and follow them around the track if you prefer. Annoyingly, I found that once zoomed in on a corner or driver, it was impossible to centre the circuit in the display again. I ended up seeing only two thirds of the track as the rest of it meandered off screen somewhere.

Twist and shout

The remainder of the new features can be spotted in the revamped live timing sections. Twisting the iPad into portrait mode and enabling full screen data provides three sector split times, plus three sector speed traps for all drivers. This information is just not available anywhere else. If you were to pick your favourite driver from the list, the view will update to show differences between his times and everyone else on track. If someone puts in a fastest first sector, you can instantly compare how much your favourite has fallen behind.

You can of course currently do all of this in your head using traditional live data, but when keeping up with 24 driver spilt times across three sectors, this is just easier. Again the benchmark has been raised.

Live data, now with sector splits and speed
Credit: Soft Pauer

The final feature of note, is the option to expand the interface scaling by two levels. You can make the text really big, sit the iPad next to your television and share the data amongst the whole family. At full stretch, 15 drivers will fit on the screen and still be clearly visible from across the room.

This has all been tested on a first generation iPad, but with the iPad 2's ability to mirror content to an HDMI connection, you could potentially watch live timing on your television too. Are you convinced yet?

This app does appeal to the geek in me, but there's more to it than that. Soft Pauer have managed to not only break Formula One World Championship's stranglehold on timing data, but made it a workable business out of it and still manage to push boundaries at the same time. No simple achievement since F1.com muscled in on the game, with a free but hopeless alternative to further confuse consumers.

In the UK this will set you back a hefty £19.99 from the iTunes Store, which works out to just under £1 per race. In the US it's $32.99 and is also available in many other countries.

Buy using iTunes now

The only question that remains is why there is integration with the Apple's Game Center? So far we have collected zero achievements, and rank nowhere on the leader board. Must try harder!

All content in the series F1 on the iPad