Where to start with this app…frankly, we are confused. There is a ViewTi Golf, ViewTi G, and ViewTi N, and frankly, we aren’t even sure which one we reviewed (whatever anyone wants to call it…it was the original app they released in 2009). Their website has shown different prices than their iTunes pages, and the demo videos on the site don’t always match the indicated application. It seems that the company is completely confused as well.
Editor’s Note: In 2010, the company released ViewTi 2010, and seems to be phasing out the original ViewTi, reviewed here. Sadly for existing ViewTi users, there is an upgrade fee to move to ViewTi 2010, which certainly won’t endear them to customers.
The application that we reviewed (which we believe is ViewTi Golf) offers a straightforward interface, with satellite maps of each hole and the ability to determine distances to any point selected (though not the corresponding distance to the hole, available with most other applications). One of the major problems with the ViewTi is that it downloads each image only at the time it is requested by the user (as opposed to downloading all views at the beginning of the round like many of its competitors). This left us with some painful wait times in the middle of play, particularly when we had lousy network coverage. Combine this with one of the least attractive user interfaces and you are left with an application that, while offering the basics, can’t keep up with the competition.
- Scorecard and statistics tracking
- Satellite maps of each hole
- Provides distance to any point on the hole
- Limited number of zoom levels (determined by ViewTi)
- Each new view is downloaded only when requested by the user, so it can be a bit of a wait for hole views to appear
- Only half of the equation – shows distance from the user’s location to a selected point, but not the distance from the selected point to the green.
- Confusing orientation of views with no consistent progression through hole.
Critical Golf Test: The ViewTi is in the middle of the pack in our test of the availability of golf courses for iPhone golf GPS applications with 84% coverage. Coverage across all types of courses was very good, with the exception of “Best New” courses (only 9 out of 20). ViewTi had roughly the same level of coverage across different geographical regions.
Manufacturer’s Claims: ViewTi claims to have more than 23,000 courses in its database, which puts it second among the iPhone applications we tested.
Starting a Round
The Good: The initial launch time for the ViewTi is shorter than most of its competitors, since it loads each view of the hole only when requested during play (instead of loading the entire golf course during the initial launch). Of course, this comes with a trade-off during actual play (see “Ease of Use” below).
The Bad: Not much.
Details: Starting a round is as easy as selecting from a list of courses that are ordered either by proximity to your current location or alphabetically by name (you set your preference in the Settings menu). The user can also simply search for a course by name. Selecting a course will take you to a page with a bit of info on the course and buttons to either call the course, get directions or view the scorecard, along with the ability to save the course for quick access in the future via a bookmark button.
Ease of Use
The Good: The ViewTi has an easy to use interface, which will take most people little if any time to learn to navigate. Determining distances is a simple matter of touching the screen and moving around an arrow/cursor. Navigating between the two types of views (Green View, which displays satellite images, and Number View, which only displays yardages in text) is done through a single button, and entering scores and statistics is a straightforward process through a typical iPhone “slot-machine” interface. A nice feature is that if you exit the application and need to come back, you can quickly resume play at the same hole.
The Bad: The orientation of the satellite views changes over the course of the hole. This creates a fairly disorienting progression through the hole as you may begin with a fairway view oriented in one direction, switch to a different orientation of the fairway for your next shot, then conclude with a green view oriented in yet another direction. While we understand the desire to rotate images based on player location, we would prefer that either all images are based on the player’s current position or that all are shown with the tee box at the bottom of the screen and the green at the top (the layout that all other applications tested use). Another problem is that, unlike many of the other iPhone golf GPS applications, there is no “you are here” indicator of the player’s position on the displayed hole.
Unlike competitive applications, which load the entire golf course at the beginning of the round, the ViewTi loads each hole view only as it is selected by the user. The result is that you sometimes have to stare at a blank grey screen in the middle of play while a view is loaded (we often experienced waits of over 5 seconds, even with a strong 3G signal, and this happened multiple times each hole).
Lastly, we simply weren’t fans of the look and feel of the application, which pales in comparison to other applications such as Golfshot and AirVue.
- Buttons. Given that this is an iPhone application, everything is accessed through touchscreen buttons – those on-screen buttons that players touch to navigate the application. There are buttons on the initial search screen to access saved courses, rounds and settings. After you have started a round, there are always buttons to return to course details, access the scorecard, advance to the next or previous holes, and to track shot distances. If you are in “Green View” (with the satellite images of the hole), there will also be buttons to refresh the screen and zoom in/out. If you are in “Number View” (no images), there is the full “slot machine” interface to enter your score, fairways hit (or if missed left or right), greens in regulation and putts (which, as mentioned before, is also accessible from any other screen).
- Battery Life. Every iPhone golf GPS application that we tested (including the ViewTi) was a battery hog. With each application tested, we were able to complete a single round, but wound up with a dead phone shortly thereafter. See our intro to iPhone golf GPS applications for tips on how to conserve battery life during play.
Course Detail and Mapping
The Good: ViewTi enables the user to touch the map of the hole and place a cursor to get distances to any point on the course (users can place the cursor in all views except the highest level course overview).
The Bad: The application doesn’t provide pre-mapped distances to any hazards or target points (other than the green) on the maps, so if you want to know the distance to a point, you have to use the touchscreen. In addition, while ViewTi provides the distance from the player to where the cursor is placed, it does not provide the distance from the cursor to the green – something they really must add to the next release if they want to keep up with the competition.
- Views. The ViewTi provides two types of views:
- Number View – The only information provided in Number View is the yardage to the center of the green
- Green View – Green View, which, contrary to its name, shows more than just the green, consists of up to four different levels of zoom of satellite images of the hole ranging from a view of the hole and surrounding area to a close-up of the green.
- Course Image – This highest-level of views features the hole you are on (though sometimes the hole will be slightly cropped…tsk tsk), and a few surrounding holes. The only distance available on this screen is to the center of the green – users cannot select points to receive distances in this view. The orientation of the view is based on the player’s position. If you move and then come back to this view, the application will need to re-load the image (with a wait time of up to 5 seconds…again).
- Hole Images – There generally are one or two levels of satellite zoom available for the hole. The wide-angle view displayed is based on the player position and as such will need to be reloaded if a player changes position and then returns to the wide-angle view. The next level of zoom is not based on player position but rather is fixed, and will not need to be reloaded if the player moves. Note that we experienced a bug where the zoom buttons were not displayed, although a restart of the application usually solved the problem.
- Green Image – The ViewTi will also display a satellite image of the green and a very small amount of surrounding area. This image is always oriented in the same direction (it does not rotate based on player position), but ViewTi does try to help indicate relative positioning by placing a yellow line that emanates from the center of the green and extends in the direction of the user’s position.
- Hole Information. The hole number and par are available on both the satellite view and the summary hole view. Hole handicap is not available.
Suggestion Box: The “refresh” and “zoom” buttons would benefit from being placed against the backdrop of a solid color to make them easier to see. Also, we couldn’t figure out how the ViewTi decided which of the satellite images to show at the beginning of each hole. On occasion, we would be presented with the image of the green (even on a par 5), and other times we would see different hole images or the course image. There did not seem to be any correlation to the last view displayed on the previous hole.
The Good: Simple interface for entering scores and statistics.
The Bad: If the user selects to enter scores for more than one player, he loses the ability to track other statistics. In addition, the application was just a little buggy – for example, in order to enter a score of 4, we had to move the slot machine roller to between the 4 and 5, which would then register as 4 on the scorecard.
- Shot Tracking. ViewTi provides a simple interface to mark the distance of shots.
- Score and Statistics. Users have the ability to enter their score, fairways hit (or if they missed left or right), greens in regulation and putts. The scorecard page shows the holes, par, the score/total score/score relative to par, fairways hit of total possible, greens in regulation of total possible, putts per hole and total putts. Unlike other iPhone golf GPS applications, ViewTi is not smart enough to ask for only relevant statistics, so users are still prompted whether they hit the fairway on par 3s.
On the statistics overview screen, the user may also enter the rating and slope of the course (some competitive iPhone golf GPS applications automatically provide this information). Note that as described above, statistics can only be entered if the user is scoring just for himself.
- Auto-Advance. There is no ability to auto-advance from hole to hole, so the user will need to manually advance to the next hole.
- Preferences. ViewTi allows users to change very basic settings, such as background color, whether statistics are tracked, whether to keep score for additional players, and the basic unit of measurement (yards or meters).
Mapping Accuracy: We found no problems with mapping accuracy during our test rounds with the ViewTi – when we checked the distances displayed by the ViewTi at marked points on the course (both sprinklerheads and tee box markers), in most cases found accurate within 4-5 yards, with some holes varying up to 10 yards on occasion.
Retail Price: At $28.99, the ViewTi Golf application for the iPhone is one of the lower priced applications in our pricing comparison.
Fees for Access to Course Database: There is no cost to access the course database. All courses are included with the cost of the application.
Three-Year Total Cost of Ownership: With a one time charge of $28.99, the ViewTi is the one of the less expensive applications in our three-year cost of ownership comparison.
Value: While a reasonable value at $28.99, the ViewTi falls behind other iPhone golf GPS applications that offer more for lower or similar cost. And with the ViewTi 2010 available for just $1 more, there is no reason for users to purchase this original ViewTi application any longer.