World Cupinion 1.1.5 (Android And The Web)
A Software Review

South Africa By: Mandy J Watson on 1 July 2010
Category: Tech > Software > Reviews
Tags: #wc2010 Comments View Comments

Part of the fun of a live sports event is watching it with friends and participating in the form of fan reactions - but what if you're home alone or stuck at the office? World Cupinion, a university research project being run during the World Cup, presents a whole new interactive experience.

World Cupinion is a collaborative project by German universities University of Duisburg-Essen (the Pervasive Computing and User Interface Engineering group) and Technische Universität Berlin (the Quality & Usability Group of Deutsche Telekom Laboratories).

Even though World Cupinion is past version 1.0 it's still considered a beta release. In the first two weeks it was updated three times as settings were tweaked and new features implemented - when I first started testing the app on 11 June 2010 (the first day of the World Cup) it was at version 1.1.2. At the time of writing it was at 1.1.5, and I imagine that the tweaks will continue but if I wait any longer the World Cup will be over and a review will be pointless. (However it's also possible that the project will continue with a new sporting event once the World Cup has concluded.)

The app runs on Android phones and there is also a web-browser-based version, which can be used on a desktop computer or on phones with browsers that support it (such as iPhones or Nokia phones running Symbian).

World Cupinion

Upon launching the app you select the match from the list that you are about to watch, then choose the team that you are supporting. (On the Web you don't have to choose a team and can be considered a "visitor".) You are then presented with nine buttons. At the time of writing they are from left to right, top to bottom:

• Whistle! (Android)/Foul (Web)
• Yellow Card
• Red Card
• Play on! (Android)/No Foul (Web)
• Yippee!*
• Vuvuzela
• "Thumbs up"
• "Thumbs down"
• Boring
*Pre version 1.1.4 this button was labelled "Offside" (you can see it in some of the older screenshots on this page) but I imagine that it wasn't used much. The "Yippee!" button is a welcome replacement and great to use when a thumbs up and the vuvuzela just won't do (such as when a goal is scored).

As the game you are watching progresses you hit buttons corresponding with your opinion as to what is happening (or the vuvuzela button just for fun). The bar underneath the button then highlights as a percentage of the fans who have hit that button at around the same time, so you can see if you're alone in your opinion or experiencing a common reaction. You can also see how the different fan sides are reacting to a specific moment that may be beneficial to one team and detrimental to the other (a goal or a red card, for instance). It makes watching a game a much more communal and enjoyable experience, especially if you are physically by yourself.

As part of the project the universities are logging data from users anonymously, which is being collated and analysed. As someone with an interest in usability and psychology I'm quite interested in what they learn from the project. I've certainly picked up some fascinating usage habits during the games in which I've used the app. For example, when someone new launches it and jumps in the person will often press all the buttons in sequence to see what happens. As you can imagine this is a bit disruptive and annoying if you're in the middle of a live match. Another example is that, at the end of a particularly thrilling and jovial match, users will often hit the "Play on" and Thumbs -down buttons for a while after the game has ended.

World Cupinion

Around the release time of version 1.1.3 a chat system was introduced in the online version, but unfortunately not in the Android version, which is where I would have liked it. There are times when you're not sure if anyone else is using the app (it'll say there are fans but no one seems to be reacting except you) and, for the first time ever, I experienced lag during the USA-Ghana match on 26 June (using version 1.1.5), so it would have been useful to have a mechanism to ask if others were experiencing the same thing.

In version 1.1.4 a basic help system was included. Before this, unless you had visited the Web site and read the explanation (and I imagine many people, such as myself, did that to understand how to use the app), it would usually take a while to figure out what you are supposed to do as all the other World Cup apps I've downloaded and tested present stats and standings - they aren't real-time interactive experiences.

World Cupinion

As I mentioned in the list earlier, this version also introduced the "Yippee!" button to replace the "Offside" button, as well as new feedback mechanisms that differentiate between the reactions of fans on your side and the opposing side. Previously, all reactions displayed in orange, with the bar representing the percentage of players on whichever side that had pressed the button. Since version 1.1.4, your team's reactions are now represented in yellow, and the opposing team's reactions are in blue. The bar percentages still stand but if users from both sides are hitting the same button the percentage bar will display both yellow and orange.

This change has, so far, been one of the best updates to the app and it has made the experience that much more enjoyable for me.

The various tweaks have improved the app considerably but in the end the users make it fun. The more that participate, the more enjoyable the experience is. Conversely, when no one's online or fans are "there" but not participating it's frustrating. I'm hoping that more people will start using it before the end of the tournament - at the moment adoption has been disappointingly slow. If you have an Android-based phone or are online during the next match I'd encourage you to try it out.

World Cupinion 1.1.5 was tested on a Motorola Milestone cellular phone running Android 2.1. Opinion Share/Bookmark
Rating: 7/10

Key Facts: World Cupinion 1.1.5
World Cupinion
Official Site: World Cupinion
Orientation: Portrait only
Download: Search for "World Cupinion" in the Android Market or use the QR code to the right.
Size: 367 KB

On The Internet
Online Client:
(Can be used by desktop web browsers and smartphones with suitable web browsers.) Comments Speak Your Mind

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