iPhone App Walkthrough
Discasaurus for iPhone*: Disc Golf Scorekeeping Done Right
If you have an iPhone… and you like disc golf (or live and breathe it), you are in the right place. This review will walk you through this innovative new app from start to finish. We're going to cover lots of features along the way so before you dive in, you may want to grab a refreshment.
Initial setup is probably the least exciting part of using Discasaurus. Fortunately, it's fast (about a minute) and once it's done, the fun can start. The first time the app runs, it presents a special setup screen with two text input boxes. One asks for for a player name and the other offers a chance to create a new account or sign in. If the email address belongs to a confirmed account, a prompt collects the matching password to complete the sign in process. For brand new users, Discasaurus creates an account and sends out a confirmation link via email. If the account is not confirmed within 10 days, it expires.
Although an account isn't required to use Discasaurus for iPhone, it opens the door to some compelling online features that really take this app to the next level.
This is a fairly familiar pattern so no surprises here. The screen shown below is typically the first screen that appears when the app starts up. It's a jumping off point to the major functionalities: keeping score, reviewing score history, and settings configuration. If there’s a game in progress (either: literally in progress, or unsaved from a previous outing), the "Resume" icon recalls it in one touch.
Courses by State
Discasaurus is aware of over 2700 course locations in the United States. All of them are listed on the web site (more on that later), but the app only has Michigan and California preloaded. Getting course directories for other states is easy. This piecemeal approach shown below has the added benefit of minimizing the app's footprint, leaving as much storage space as possible for other apps, music, videos, etc.
From the launcher screen, tap "Settings" then "Update Course Directory". Next select a state and tap "Update". That's it. For states with large directories, an indicator shows the download progress. Typically it takes less than a minute to pull the courses and some recommended ways to play through them (i.e. which tee-basket combos, which section of the course, etc.) from the Discasaurus Online server. Download more states as needed, just keep in mind that each one takes up some storage space.
Finally… the fun part! Tapping the "New Game" icon on the launcher screen brings up the player selection screen. It facilitates four major functions: choosing which players will be in the scorekeeping interface, adding players, editing players, and deleting players from the app. Swiping horizontally on this screen brings up the course layout drilldown which is described near the end of this section.
Players can be dragged between two groups on the screen by dragging the handle on the right edge of a player bar. Those in the "Current Players" group at the top will be included in the scorekeeping interface, while the "Available" group simply contains other players that have been added to the app at one time or another.
The "Add Player" button is at the top right of the screen and tapping it reveals a form similar to the initial setup screen described above. Unlike the other form, this includes a disc color picker so the scoring interface can represent each player with a different colored disc. Bright colors look great, but it's just a matter of personal preference.
The form also has a "Sign Up" button at the bottom to invite new players to Discasaurus via the supplied email address. Just like in the initial setup, players will have to confirm the invitation via email. A "Log In" button at the bottom brings up a password prompt (again, much like the initial setup). Tapping done saves the new player and returns to the player selection screen.
Editing players is similar to adding them. The first step is to touch an existing player on the player selection screen. From there, the options are identical to the add player screen (the done button saves any changes).
Players can only be deleted from the available group, not from current players. The red circle on the left unlocks a particular player and displays a corresponding delete button. Touching that button (predictably) removes the selected player from the list.
Selecting a Course Layout
The screenshots near the beginning of this section include a little yellow indicator at the top right. This indicator appears in a few different contexts and its purpose is to indicate that the current screen can be swiped horizontally to see another related screen. Within the game setup, a side-to-side swipe switches between player selection and course layout selection... which are both required to configure the score keeping interface.
After swiping in from the player selection screen, Discasaurus displays a course layout drilldown. Here’s where the Discasaurus course directory comes into play. Many of the courses in the database include GPS cooridinates. This allows the app to display locations in order of their distance from the current location. When locating courses nearby for the first time, a user-prompt will determine if the app can use the device’s GPS. This feature enables the most efficient game setup possible.
The other option at the top right is search. This mode is best for finding courses by name.
Once the desired location is found, the drill down can begin. Tapping a location reveals a choice of layouts grouped by course. Tapping one of them completes the course selection part of the game setup.
Of all the features named in this walkthrough the scoring interface may be the most compelling. Rather than rely on text fields or dropdowns or other form-based controls, Discasaurus keeps score by counting taps on a player tile. Just, tap a player’s tile for every time he or she throws. Do it all at once at the end of a hole or as the throws actually happen. Either way, Discasaurus’ big buttons and text minimize the hunting and pecking, so a player can enter a score quickly and remain focused on the game.
Beyond tapping on player tiles, there are a few more gestures that operate the interface:
Advance or return to a previous hole by swiping horizontally. To the left reveals the next hole and to the right reveals the previous one if it exists.
Scroll the list of player tiles by swiping or dragging vertically. Theoretically, Discasaurus can score tens of players at a time, but that would be a lot of scrolling ;o)
Correct a scorekeeping mistake by tapping and holding a tile that has been tapped too many times. Doing so resets that tile to zero. Tapping with two fingers subtracts one throw from the selected player tile.
Return to the last scores entered by shaking the device.
View the game summary by tilting the device horizontally.
Changing Players and Courses Mid-game
In the course of leisurely play, players are bound to join up or depart mid round. Hitting the back button in the top left corner returns to the game setup screen where a different group of players or a different course layout can be selected. The start button at the bottom is joined by a resume button that (as its name suggests) resumes the game in progress, mapping any previously entered scores according to the new game configuration. Touching start clears the score entries for each player and reconfigures the scoring interface from scratch.
Swiping left from the last hole in a round presents two options for saving the score(s). The first option stores a local copy of a round AND sends a copy to the Discasaurus site. It requires a Discasaurus account and an active Internet connection. The second option only stores the record in the device’s local storage.
Looking back on good times can be fun, and that’s why Discasaurus for iPhone keeps a record of previous rounds. Within this screen, records open up to the game summary view. The only options are to swipe or scroll to see more scores, or touch back to return to the score history list.
Any more than a brief introduction will push this lengthy walkthrough into the TLDR category. It would be easy to fill 5-6 pages exploring web site features, so Discasaurus Online will probably get a separate detailed walkthrough at some point. In the meantime, here are some high-level gems.
Front Page + Login
Scoreboard + Scores + Widget
The Bottom Line
There are a lot of reasons to download this app, including super-fast scorekeeping, nationwide course directory, and an integrated web site that serves up a personalized recent scores widget. If you are an iPhone or iPod Touch user, this app is worth a try... and at the low, low price of FREE, it's hard to resist!
* iPod Touch users can enjoy Discasaurus too! Note that some things (e.g. downloading a course directory for your state) will require an Internet connection.