I don’t know about you, but the last time I paid for some software for my computer or for an iPhone app was….well, I can’t remember when. We all expect to get free information from the web. For a while we were even conditioned to expect to be able to download music for free (yes, we have reformed). And as part of the growing masses that own an iPhone, we expect to download free apps. At the very least, we consider it payback for the crappy AT&T wireless service that we have to deal with on a daily basis. So for those that won’t spend one thin dime on an iPhone app, we downloaded all the free iPhone golf apps we could find and headed to the course to see how they would perform.
Unfortunately, in most cases we were greeted by extremely buggy software and unmapped courses. And there’s the hitch. If developers are giving away golf GPS apps and get nothing in return, they don’t dedicate much time to improving the app, and they certainly don’t have time to map the 16,000 golf courses in the United States, never mind those in the rest of the world. Free iPhone golf GPS apps generally rely on the community of players to help out with course coverage by mapping courses on their own, either through their PC by using Google Earth, dedicated websites, or via the iPhone while on the course. The courses users map are then shared with the network of users of the app. As part of this arrangement, you have to accept that your local courses may not be mapped yet, and even if they are, the mapping can be wildly inaccurate or have different or fewer targets than you might like. Personally, we aren’t fans of taking the time to map courses ourselves (which took from 20 minutes to over an hour per course), but perhaps others are. Don’t expect quick responses for support (we sure didn’t get any), and if the developers map courses on request, don’t expect a fast turnaround time. But hey, if you didn’t pay for the app, you really can’t complain.
Even when apps that are supported by Apple iAds or other advertisements, they often have the same level of quality as non-ad supported apps. Hopefully developers with apps that are ad-supported and start to generate income will realize it is in their best interest to provide a quality app that will get frequent use, and continue to work on improvements and enhancements.
Fortunately, even within all the flotsam and jetsam of free golf GPS apps that exist, we still found some apps that may be worth your time to check out, such as MyCaddie Pro and iYardage. If you can deal with some of the limitations and are willing to take the time to map courses once in a while, why not give one a try?
Check out the Critical Golf site for a full list of free iPhone golf GPS reviews.