I’ve been playing Fantasy Premier League (FPL) for several years, but in that time the FPL website has changed very little. The graphics have been improved in the game itself, but the site is as jumbled it was the first time I played it. And I often find myself feverishly logging on to it either Friday night or minutes before the window closes on a Saturday morning to make some last minute changes and keeping my fingers crossed that my picks will do well. Then during the actual games itself, I often find myself logging into the FPL site to see how many points my team have generated, sometimes seeing error messages preventing me from logging as fellow obsessed FPL players are trying to log in at the same time from all over the world.
Up until recently, I tried accessing the FPL site from my mobile phone instead of the web. The FPL site is not mobile-friendly and you have to zoom in a lot to be able to log in. And with all of the features and functionality of the site being closely knitted together, I often found myself clicking on the wrong link by accident and cursing the site as a result. Still, with no better solution, I bookmarked the page and persevered.
That is until I discovered a fantastic new app entitled FPL Manager for the Apple iPhone.
FPL Manager is as the name suggests, an app that allows you to update your Fantasy Premier League team with all of the ease and functionality (if not, more so) than the web site itself. Some of the features include:
- You can login in under several FPL accounts if you have more than one, which is a much easier way to manage them,
- Access ‘My Team’ to view or change it, change your substitutions, change the sub order, change your captain and select an emergency captain,
- View how many points each player on your team has under the ‘Latest Points’ section,
- Transfer players in and out,
- View your standings in the different private leagues you’re the member of,
- View the history of your account to see how many points you achieved each gameweek as well as which players were the best/worst, and
- View the leaders in the Top 10 of your private leagues so you can see which players they have on their team.
FPL Manager also has a handy guide at the bottom of the screen that lists your overall rank on Fantasy Premier League, as well as how many points you’ve won for the most recent gameweek, a reminder of when the next deadline is, and the total number of points you’ve earned thus far.
The app loads quickly, is easy to use and is a must-have for soccer fans who play Fantasy Premier League. What I found most surprising about the app is how basic the design is. But the intuitive design is practical and makes it easy to get to the information you’re looking for. And it’s easy and fast to make changes. Why bother having a flashy design when it adds nothing?
FPL Manager is designed for the iPhone but is also compatible with the iPod Touch and iPad. To learn more about the app, read the following interview with app creator Steve Senior:
• How did you come up with idea to create the app?
Steve Senior (SS): I’ve always loved the Fantasy Premier League game and have played it for many years. I upgraded to an iPhone late last year and quickly became frustrated with trying to manage my FPL team using the mobile FPL site in Safari on the iPhone. I thought there would already be many apps available that would allow you to manage your FPL team, but there simply wasn’t. I have a background in programming, and mid-way through this year decided to learn how to develop apps on the iPhone. It was natural for me that my first project would be an app that allowed you to fully manage your FPL team using the native iPhone UI as this was something that I myself desperately wanted. FPL Manager was born.
• The design of the app itself is simple and practical. Was that on purpose, or are there plans in the future to enhance the design?
SS: It was absolutely on purpose. I spent a lot of time during the design phase deliberating this. There were two avenues that I could pursue. I could make the UI look as beautiful as possible, pulling in player pictures, team kits etc, or I could make it as lightweight and as quick to load as possible. In the end I made the decision based on how I would want to use the app. Before I wrote FPL Manager there were so many occasions when deadline day was looming and I’d forgotten to make my transfers. I was away from a PC, had no wifi or 3G connection, and the amount of time it took to load up safari and make my changes was such an unpleasant experience. That became the mission statement of the app if you like; to make an app that allows you manage your FPL team no matter where you are or what network coverage you have. I feel I have definitely accomplished this. With that decision made, I decided to make the design of the app look like a “native” iPhone app, for example the Apple mail app. I will, of course, always listen and respond to user feedback and the design may be enhanced in the future.
• Are there any plans to create a similar app for I Know The Score?
SS: I have to be honest here and admit that I don’t actually play I Know The Score. However, a lot of my friends do. This is a great idea and if there is enough demand I will certainly look into it.
• Are there any plans for an iPad version?
SS: I decided against making an iPad specific version. There were two main reasons for this. Firstly I figured the screen real estate and resolution of the iPad would allow you to use the full FPL website to manage your team without too much of a headache. Secondly, I reasoned that many people would not use their iPad on the move. Again, I will always listen and respond to user feedback, and if there is a demand for this I will look into it.
• Are there any other apps you’re creating that you’d like us to know about?
SS: I’m really proud of this app and it’s been a great journey for me from the design phase to seeing it available on the App Store. I’ve learned so much from making FPL Manager. I have a lot of ideas for the next application. At the moment I am looking into building a game engine that will allow me to launch a truly unique game onto the iPhone platform.