There is no doubt that technology is an important part of cricket, even at grass-roots level. That means when Apple make a product announcement, players and coaches interested in getting an edge should listen to what they have to say.
Yesterday, Apple announced the iPhone 6, 6 Plus and Apple Watch.
Look at the track record of technology in cricket, and Apple in particular, and you can see it's ever growing influence. Coaches and scorers have iPads, players use iPhones and other smart phones as the most portable of computers. Add to this innovations like bowling machines and PitchVision and you see that technology is already a huge part of cricket.
So, the important question is; do these new devices signal a change in the landscape, and if so how can you tap into their power?
New iPhone, it's better but not earth shattering yet
The iPhone 6 has a bigger screen and is thinner, but the real power stays the same. Like previous models, it's the computer and camera you always have with you.
You already know the benefits of a smart-phone for cricket:
- Personal organisation (calendars, maps, notes).
- Communication (calls, emails, messages).
- Videoing your net sessions and getting game footage.
None of this is specific to the iPhone 6 of course. You can do them with older models or Android and Windows Phone devices. Although the camera is better than ever and certainly worth considering simply for that reason, especially if you are going to film a lot of nets.
Overall though if you don't have one, it's a good time to get any smart phone. I would ague the iPhone is the premier experience for cricket use, and that new apps for iOS 8 will make it even better over time, but not everyone agrees. However if you already have one there's no huge reason to upgrade unless there is a pressing need.
iPhone 6 Plus: A better tool for coaches than the iPad
For me as a coach, the iPhone 6 Plus is more interesting.
Essentially it's a huge iPhone (with a 5.5" screen and longer battery life). What that means is that it could replace the iPad for a lot of coaching roles. To have a single device that can do everything you want in a smart phone and a tablet is appealing financially and reduces the amount of stuff you have to carry with you.
The screen is big enough that you can film a player in practice and give instant feedback on technical points, do on the fly analysis with one of the coaching apps, to run BATEX or to show a field to a player when having a tactical net.
It's comfortable for reading and note-taking, both of which are a pain on the smaller iPhone screen. Plus, technically speaking, knocks the iPad camera into a cocked hat. The camera gives you 1080p video recording at up to 240fps in slow motion. That's really, really good quality for spotting revs on the ball and other aspects of recording.
I can see more and more coaches switch away from the iPad to the iPhone Plus, using it as a small tablet or mounting it on a tripod and using it as the main camera for better instant feedback and deliberate practice.
Apple Watch, a step towards the quantified cricketer
Finally, Apple came out with their first real "wearable". It's a watch that does all kinds of exciting stuff, but it's the tracking that is interesting to cricketers.
We have discussed the "measured life" before as a tool for developing your game. There is no doubt that recording and analysing data is an important and proven way to improve your sleep, fitness and cricket skills. the Apple Watch takes a step towards making this easy.
The problem has always been that getting the data is a royal pain that takes a combination of technical knowledge and patience. The Apple Watch solves this by just being on your wrist and tracking as you go. It know when you are moving and can track how much you sit, how much you walk and how hard you train.
These are overall health benefits, so while certainly moving more and training harder will improve your fitness there are no direct tracking methods for cricket-specifics yet. I guess you could wear it during a match to see things like the distance you cover and the changes in your heart rate. You might spot some ways to improve your fitness training as a result.
It certainly puts more power to have your data in your hands. That's a great thing, but I'm not sure it's quite there as a tool for better cricket. Plus, it's certainly not unique in doing these things.
Keep "watching" though... (sorry I couldn't resist).
Now it's over to you; what do you feel about technology in cricket and Apple stuff in particular?
Are you lusting over any of these devices, something different or do you prefer cones, chalk and the good old days?
Leave a comment and join the conversation.