When an NFL team is centered in the hub of the tech universe it ought to have an excellent mobile app. Fortunately for the Faithful, 49ers Gameday Live will not disappoint.
What sets the free app (available for iPhone, Android and BlackBerry) apart from the typical mobile offerings for sports teams is the number of live, in-game features to enhance the experience of watching the 49ers at Candlestick or on television. For example, live camera views from the sideline and additional angles are available during a game. For those cheering the 49ers in-person at Candlestick, there is a section devoted to highlights and play-by-play replays.
There is also plenty of video, such as post-game press conferences, team interviews and content produced by the 49ers that is usually only found on the team web site.
Scott Kegley, the digital media manager for the 49ers, said the team wanted its app to be a central hub for its fan base
“We wanted to differentiate it so that it was not just another version of the mobile site,” he said. “We wanted it to stand out and be unique.”
So the 49ers partnered with developer YinzCam to add live features, video and stadium information to make it a central hub for fans. One of the most popular features is an option that superimposes a user’s photo onto a rendering of the stadium’s Jumbotron.
The experience at Candlestick, like many other game or crowded venues, can suffer from clogged mobile networks. Those on AT&T may be especially hobbled with limited data available during the game. At the most recent Cardinals-49ers game on Nov. 20th, I was unable to load any of the live video from the lower reserved sections or concession platforms. Nor could I connect to the Gameday Live WiFi network that is available for fans.
That is unfortunate, because many good features are here to enhance the stadium experience. Included is a map to concessions, restrooms, specific food options and other services. It can be quite convenient for those craving a pizza or racing to the nearest bathroom.
Kegley said these issues should disappear upon moving into the new stadium planned for Santa Clara. With a new stadium will come superior wireless connectivity, he said.
“We know it’s going to be a lot better in the new building,” he said. “The stadium experience is going to improve significantly.”
49ers Gameday Live currently includes some social connections, as users can connect their Foursquare, Facebook, Twitter or Gowalla accounts to check in and brag to friends that they are at a game.
Along with the in-game and social features, users will find the traditional game stats, match ups and other team data. Many of the features, news and profiles available from 49ers.com is included. This is especially convenient for those following a game or trying to get standings or score updates without navigating to the clunky NFL or ESPN apps.
49ers Gameday Live is very stable and quite easy to navigate. The only hangups seem to be that some fans may have difficulty connecting to the features if mobile networks (especially AT&T) get overwhelmed while at Candlestick. Also, the section labeled “merchandise and other” only showed a location of ATM machines instead of souvenir stands.
An updated version with deeper social integration is planned to launch soon, according to Kegley. Even without these, 49ers Gameday Live is a successful re-imagining of what a professional sports team app should look like. Given the growing list of professional teams who have partnered with YinzCam don’t be surprised if more teams launch their own app soon.