ABOUT AFL LIVE
In 2011, Telstra and Outware Mobile began working together on the AFL Live Official App to bring footy fans their favourite sport on smartphones and tablets. Since then, the app has been continuously upgraded and enhanced, making use of the latest technologies to deliver an award winning mobile sports entertainment experience. In 2014, this partnership delivered a revitalised mobile experience for Club Apps as well as the world’s first live sporting app for a wearable device in the AFL Live App for Pebble.
Our objective for these apps has always been to enhance the AFL experience by making it convenient and easy for fans to access their favourite sport wherever and whenever they want. The AFL Live Official App for Apple Watch now extends this great mobile experience to another level of convenience and engagement for fans of the sport.
There is always a lot of excitement around the new device, but we wanted to make sure that we took a pragmatic approach to the development of this app. To do this, we established the vision for the app early on.
Our objective was to deliver relevant and useful information to footy fans on the go, given the following constraints:
- Very limited screen real-estate, with two watch face sizes (38mm and 42mm)
- A completely different and unique user experience, with new gestures and user interactions
- Balancing performance with the availability of relevant and real time information
Since the Apple Watch is an entirely new device, there were many unknowns at the beginning of this project. We had to work in a flexible and collaborative manner to be able to handle issues as they came along. Our designers worked closely alongside our developers, so that designs could be easily adjusted when required and assets handed over directly to developers with little time wasted. This approach allowed the team to respond quickly to any issues that arose, and ensured that the project remained on track and focused on delivering a great Apple Watch experience.
The user experience (UX) approach for the Apple Watch is entirely different to smartphones and tablets. Users appreciate very short engagements that provide context specific information with minimal interaction. This means the app has to be designed with a shallow navigational hierarchy and smart logic to work out what information the user might want at any given moment.
The AFL Live Official App for Apple Watch is designed to be used on the go and at a glance. For example, the app includes a countdown timer for upcoming matches. Users simply have to lift their wrist and swipe to view the match countdown timer, rather than take their phone out and launch the app, before being able to check how long before the start of a match.
The small screen sizes were also a challenge. Some screens on the Apple Watch cannot be scrolled, allowing very little real estate for content representation. For example, the Live Scores screens use colour and hierarchy to help users digest a lot of information in a short amount of time. The app has been designed to take advantage of the real visual aesthetics available, without detracting from key information.
When building iOS apps, there are a lot of existing patterns and paradigms in place that don’t exist for a new device like the Apple Watch. We were essentially starting from a clean slate, which meant that a lot of architectural decisions had to be made.
A key challenge in the development of this app was to balance the performance of the app with delivering real time and relevant information. For example, the app on the Apple Watch must communicate with the app on the iPhone in order to collect the relevant data to display to the user. To ensure as little delay to the user as possible, the iPhone app will first provide the Apple Watch app with cached data, then make a network request to check if there is new data available and if so, update it on the Apple Watch.
We also had to update and refine our continuous integration process to build apps for the Apple Watch. With limitations in the tools available, our team had to quickly find a new solution to ensure we could build the app according to best practices.
THE WATCH APP
The AFL Live Official App for Apple Watch app has been designed with a lean feature-set, with performance in mind. There are three key features to the app:
- Glances (Live scores and countdown timer)
- Match Centre
The app is now available on the App Store when you download the latest version of the AFL Live Official App for iPhone.
We are continuing to work on the roadmap with Telstra on the AFL Live suite of apps for iOS, Android, Pebble and Apple Watch.