Android App Review: SkyDroid – Golf GPS

Publisher: Paul Goldstein
Platform: Android (1.5 and above)
Cost: $1.99
[AppBrain Link][Official homepage]
Release Date: April 5, 2010 (v. 1.6)
Version Reviewed: 1.6

Apologies for missing my regular Tuesday time-slot.  I was out all day yesterday putting this app to good use.

Are you a golfer with an Android phone?  If so, SkyDroid is the app for you.  SkyDroid is a golf GPS application that provides similar functionality to standalone golf GPS devices for a fraction of the cost.  SkyDroid uses your phone’s GPS function to provide accurate distance to the green and other notable course items (bunkers, water hazards, etc.).  As a golfer, the ability to know exactly how far from the green you are can be invaluable, especially if you find yourself off the main fairway.   No more searching for sprinkler heads or yard markers – the data is right on your phone!Once you hit the course, you just open SkyDroid and search for your course by name.  Downloading the course data takes just seconds, and you’re off and running.  The interface is very simple and easy to use.  The screen shows you the hole, the yardages, and options to switch between mark points.  You can also “zoom” in on a hole and it will show you the Google Map view with all the markers and their yardages.  If you want to know the yardage to an exact spot, you can add a point on the map and it will show you the yardage instandly.  It takes a few seconds to get a full GPS lock, but I haven’t found it to be a significant time delay.  After comparing this to my dad’s SkyCaddie, I found the yardages to be very accurate – within a yard of his readings from just about every scenario.

The app also has a distance tracker.  If you want to know how far you’re hitting the ball, you can mark the spot where you hit, and then mark where the ball lands and it will give you the distance.  This can be handy for figuring out club distances, or just for bragging rights when you hit that 300 yard drive.

SkyDroid relies on users to update and maintain their course database.  They have over 14,000 courses already mapped, but any user can map a course, so more are added every day.  Courses have to be mapped from a computer, but can be done from any internet browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, etc.).  Mapping courses takes just minutes, so it’s easy to add or update a course before you go play.  The mapping system uses Google Maps to show the course and allows the user to mark the front, center, and back of each green.  Users can also add marks for hazards, trees, or just about any other useful point.  The drawback to using Google Maps is that new courses may not be shown yet, and depending on the detail of the picture, the mappings may not be exact.  I’ve mapped about 10 courses, and have yet to have any trouble locating a course.  Their mapping interface is very simple and intuitive – just drag the markers to the locations.

The only issue I’ve found with the app is that it doesn’t always remember what hole you’re on after your screen locks, but it’s easy to change between holes, so it’s not a huge issue.  Obviously, the yardages are only as good as the marks on the maps, so it’s important to check your course before you go play and correct any errors.  The other thing to consider is battery use.  A full round of golf using this device will use a good chunk of your battery, so take that into consideration before using the app.

Overall, for a mere $2, you get an app that provides nearly the full functionality of $300+ golf GPS devices.   Also, unlike those devices, you can map courses easily online without having to walk the course.  This is one of my favorite Android apps, and I highly recommend it for any golfer.

Published by

Ryan Minert

is the resident Android nerd. His hobbies include golfing, video games, and tinkering on his Motorola Droid. He is currently a database/project analyst for an education planning and financing corporation.

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