About 2 years back, we put together an app for recording GAA Scores at games. We had a number of reasons that we took this on.
- A few of our team are GAA fans. It would be an app they would get to use.
- Sometimes, if we find a some spare capacity in the team, its good to have an internal app to work on
- We like doing our own apps as we can showcase our work without having the confines of client needs.
- I'm a PR officer for St Vincents GAA - And where I can, I'll go to marquee games and provider score-by-score updates on twitter
- David Whelan, the man behind the @DubMatchTracker account had been in touch. He was using an older app, which was in need of some updating, but the original developer was too busy to maintain it.
Hats off to Karl Monaghan who had written the one David was using; He didn't have time to actively maintain it, and he even offered us source code and access to the user base, but we decided to go solo on this.
We released a version back in 2020, and quite quickly it became the App that @DubMatchTracker was using for all his games. I too used it as I went to my sons' games, but also for senior games for St Vincents.
The app is designed to be super simple - You press a button when an event occurs (e.g. a point is scored), and it creates a pre-canned message (based on templates) that can then be automatically posted to Twitter. Those of you who have ever tried keeping up with a hurling game will know that the game moves fast, so you want your eyes back on the game immediately - and we nailed this. Posting updates is super simple. It also allows sharing of an image, which produces a nice cartoon-like image of the current score which can be shared to social media apps, whatsapp etc.
Then along came Elon.
Twitter took a new view on Third-Party developers. The wanted them to pay. With zero notice our developer keys (along with many others) were revoked overnight. This meant a key feature of the app we had in the store was killed instantly. Our option was to pay, or pull the twitter capability.
The entry level is $100 per month. This isn't a massive amount of money; but this is a hobby app. We don't sell it on the App store, and the ethos of GAA is one of Amateurs and Volunteers. Frankly, I don't think many folks would chip in to cover this, and I wouldn't expect them to; I certainly don't think folks would be interested in an ongoing subscription for this feature either.
Disappointingly, David has already decided that this was going to be his last year of reporting on Dublin GAA games. It was a shame that halfway through his final season, our Twitter capability failed. We were able to nurse the app through to give him a solution; We owe a debt of gratitude to David for his patience, and always useful feedback on the app.
I could add advertising to the app, but....Ugh. I don't want a simple clutter-free, easy-to-use app tarnished by interrupting the user with crummy ads.
And I guess that I could get a sponsor. This could work, but frankly, the effort of getting someone to pay $1,200 annually, and having to make a business case year on year does not feel the the juice is worth the squeeze.
So, what are we doing?
So, we're pulling support for Twitter. It's a big decision, but it feels like the right one. We're countering this with a number of new features which are coming soon.
- Mastodon support. If you know, you know. Mastodon is a twitter like service, but differs in that it is decentralised. No single person controls Mastodon. Instead your "toots" are published on your given server, and anyone can follow anyone on any server. Sounds confusing? Well e-mail works like this and you've all been using that for years. Think of it like tweeting, but you choose who publishes your toots.
- Auto suggesting of teams: When typing a team for a new game, we'll auto suggest previously entered teams. If you choose it, we'll auto populate their previously used social handle too.
- Make edits at half time. How many times have you checked the score with a referee at half time only to find you missed one? Up to now editing was a pain. Now we allow explicit editing at half time and full time.
- Storing your data in iCloud. This means that if you do re-install the app in the future, you won't loose your templates or previous games.
This isn't quite there - but a glimpse of what is coming soon. If you're a current user of the app, or you have a need to track GAA games, and would like to be a tester, get in touch. This is iOS only I'm afraid.