The number of outdoor apps available for the iPhone and Android phones are endless. We know what the app makers claim their apps can do, but we wanted to hear from the people who would actually put these apps to the test. A few of our members volunteered to test out a few and give us their feedback.
Some of you can still get some serious wave time in (jealous) as not everyone is yet ready to surrender to winter weather. Clymb member Andres Aguirre checked out three surfing apps and shared his thoughts below.
If you’re a surfer with other responsibilities outside of surfing you’re often looking for the best source of information to help guide you to the best spot to surf that day. This search for information does not have to go further than the smart phone in your hand.
I reviewed three popular surf forecast Android apps over a 60 day period, Skullcandy’s all in one app powered by Surfline, SwellInfo’s app by Global Surf Industries, and Surfline’s own surf report app. Every app had their own take on what users want to see.
Skullcandy: This app has a nice graphical interface . With all the graphics and everything the application does, results in it slowing down. I found that the location finder did not work, even if I was within a mile from a well known surf break. I never was able to use the location finder through the entire test period. However, if I entered the name of the surf break, the application could find the break. This however would defeat the purpose if you were new to the area and were trying to find a place to surf. There is a map function you can also use, but since the locations don’t come in it takes some scrolling around to find your location, but the surf breaks do not populate on the map when you’ve zoomed in on your location. When you find a surf location and actually bring it up on the app, the graphics are elementary. The outstanding graphics of the main menu do not translate down to the surf break view. Overall, if you know exactly where you’re going surfing, don’t mind how long the load times are, and a lot of extra stuff that you don’t use; this could be the app for you.
SwellInfo: This app had an upfront cost associated with it. At $2.99 it is a small price to pay for the value that it brings. It’s refreshingly simple. Navigating to set your location is easy. After drilling down to your spot, it brings up my favorite feature of the app. In one screen you can see the five day forecast, high and low tide times, swell height and interval, air temp, water temp, as well as wind speed and direction. If I’m in a situation where I have to pick the days over the next week that I can surf, this is a great way to do it. Each morning and afternoon are given a condition rating from clean to choppy and color coded. What ever this app loses in presentation, it gains back plus some in functionality.
Surfline Surf Report: This is probably the one app that I have been looking forward to the most. The app has surf cams that allow you to see almost real time video feeds (for Surfline.com subscribers) or a screen shot of the surf break for the free version. The report feature has wave size at the break, text description of conditions (twice a day), tide chart with time of high tide and low tide as well as tide height. The report has swell direction, swell interval, swell height, swell size over time graph, wind graph. The forecast feature only goes forward three days ass opposed to five days on the swellinfo app. Navigating through all the different features is very easy and fast. Each screen is simple and functional. Additional features for surfline.com subscribers are streaming cameras, LOLA data and a five day forecast window.
Fine print: If a computer model (i.e. app) can predict conditions at your surf break 8/10 times correctly that is a very high level of success. 6/10 times is more realistic. Break conditions (waves, wave quality) at the time you surf are a result of a very complex mix of factors such as tide height, swell direction and wind. Some breaks are so fickle that a matter of 30 min can mean the difference between epic session and epic fail. The best way to correlate what you find via the internet/apps and actual suf conditions is time in the water.
Would any of these apps be beneficial to you? Why or why not? What are some other surfing apps you think are comparable/better?
Andres, thanks for such a comprehensive review.
We got an overwhelming response to our request for members to review more apps. If you’ve not yet let your interest known, please send an email to email@example.com. We’ve got lots of apps available. If you’ve already sent an email, we’ll be in touch.