Friday, March 16th, 2012
Listen to the AFL scores in spoken German on your smartphone? Or perhaps look up the recent results in Greek? After all, Melbourne is the home of the AFL and also one of the largest Greek communities in the world. Is this part of the internationalisation of our unique national football game?

Vacuum Punk Widget Workshop has published an intriguing smartphone sports app in Google’s ‘Play’, their platform for distributing smartphone apps and other online digital content for the burgeoning Android market.

Their Count Down to Bounce Down (CDTBD) app uses the newest technologies to provide an unusual yet beautiful and functional way to be involved with the AFL’s 2012 Australian Rules Football premiership season. Retro-technology sounds and images plus the sounds of a live football game are neatly woven into the user experience. Hands-free live score updates can be heard in one of six languages even when the phone’s screen is off.

The heart of the app is the Home Screen Widget. Unique to Android in the smartphone market, Widgets provide an “always on” active display on the main screen of the smartphone or tablet. The CDTBD Widget provides a continuous countdown of the weeks, days, hours and minutes to the next match in the AFL fixtures and then, when a game is being played, it shows the current scores.

As the game approaches, CDTBD reminds the user of how long to go with either a spoken announcement or by the sounding of the match siren, or both, depending on the user’s preferences. This happens slowly at first, once per week initially, then once per day for the last two weeks, then half-hourly in the last four hours, and increasing until the last five minutes provide an amazingly realistic sequence of game sirens, typically synchronised with the actual game’s ground siren. You will feel like you are at the ground.

One of the impressive features of the app is the ability to install many Widgets and to configure each one to follow either the entire league or just one team. Perhaps you might like to install three Widgets? One to follow the entire league, one for your own team and also one for your partner’s favourite team.

Tapping on the Widget opens up the app, then selecting one of the league’s teams shows that team’s round-by-round fixtures right up to the Grand Final, or selecting the League view shows the entire season’s fixtures.  As the season progresses, the innovative season-wide league ladder display gives a visual view of all the teams’ progression and their trends up or down through the season and you can also zoom in to the details of the ladder as it stands at the end of every round in the season.

Perhaps the most unique aspect of this app is the crowd sourced live game score update. Vacuum Punk’s chief designer David Ross explains “We’re a small operation and we knew we couldn’t provide a true instant score update service for all the games. We didn’t want to simply tack onto a possibly slow RSS or Twitter feed so we knew we needed a simple and fast way to record the scores for all the users. At first we figured we could make a special version of the app for one of our staff to use while watching the live game down at the pub, but then we discussed it more and thought the crowd source model must be best. So, we’ve given our users the ability to update the scores for a match for all the other CDTBD users. We believe that our users on-the-spot at the ground, or perhaps watching the match live on TV, will tap twice to enter each score and we will all get the score updates as fast as any other software in the market.”

CDTBD also adds “cloud” richness to the AFL season. Tap on a retro-looking button, and instantly view your team’s mobile website. Where is that new ground? Tap on a game to see its co-ordinates in time and space, and then tap on the “GEO” button to view the game’s venue in the smartphone’s map application. Use the map app to navigate to the ground on the day.

One thing missing from this app however is the now common “whirling circle” loading symbol. Ross stated “Right from the start, we banned loading on user time. It is a rude way to consume the user’s valuable time. Instead, we built a cloud-based data cache that means the user always has the most current information and any updates are done invisibly in the background.”

As for the German and Greek, it turns out that the app has been designed for the international market. Ross said “We built multilingual support in for our recent Rugby World Cup Widget where we had everything in English, Spanish, French and Italian and for the AFL season we added two more, German and of course Greek! Melbourne has a massive Greek population many of whom are now generations’ long followers of the AFL. We had to have Greek! Seriously though, we believe that AFL reaches an international market now and we should cater to their needs.”

When asked why Vacuum Punk developed this rich user experience, Ross opined  “I have a strange vision, I can see hundreds, maybe thousands of Android-owning AFL tragics at the MCG or Etihad Stadium, holding their phones up in the air as they all sound off the count down in the last five minutes. If we can get enough, it might even be as loud as the actual sirens, and hopefully at the exactly same time!”

Some features of the app are premium features, for example to receive or add scores during live games or to install more than one Home Screen Widget at a time the user must purchase a one-off digital season pass for AUD$1.99.

The app is available for free download to Android phones and tablets from Google’s Play website:


Contact Profile

Vacuum Punk Widget Workshop

Grandpop tinkers away out in his workshop, patiently crafting high quality Android applications and widgets. He chisels away, hand-crafting them with the loving care of a software master-craftsman, bringing decades of coding experience to create beautiful gems of software for the discerning user.
David Ross
P: 08 9287 1050
M: 0439342579


AFL, Australian Rules Football, Android, Smartphone, Crowd Sourced Scores, Vacuum Punk Widget Workshop, synthetic voice



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