Live footy comes to the iPhone

Aussie Rules Live and Footy 2009 are two AFL iPhone apps looking to kick goals this season.

Each sells for $3.99 on the iTunes store and each shows you live scores from around the grounds plus the latest AFL news. At first glance little separates them, so I decided to put them to the test during the first game of the season between Richmond and Carlton.

The most obvious difference between the two apps is that Aussie Rules Live lets you nominate your favourite team. Now when you launch the app you see the My Team tab by default - with links to your team's news, players, results, line up, injuries and suspensions. Clicking on the Live Games tab gives your a list of current games (not every game in the round) and their start times but it doesn't show the score (a major frustration). Clicking on the game gives you a live score, which take about 10 seconds to update, as well as a quarter by quarter breakdown. Scrolling down this page reveals a list of all the game's goal kickers and a graph to show the margin during the games. There's no simple way to see all the games scheduled for a round - you need to go to the More tab, select the fixture and then choose the round.

Meanwhile Footy 2009 launches straight into its Live Scores app, so you can immediately see the scores around the grounds along with details of the last scoring shot (player and time). Scores take almost a minute to update. Clicking on a game only reveals the main goal kickers for each team. Footy 2009 also features a Matches tab which shows all the matches for the round (although strangely not the ground they're played at). This tab also lists the final score for each game.

One of Footy 2009's strengths is that clicking on a game in the Matches tab shows you each team's recent form and the history between the two clubs - which is handy if you're working on your footy tips. You can also see the ladder and how it changed after the last round. Unfortunately you can't see the fixture, a major disappointment. The iTunes description says "See who your team is playing in the coming rounds" but I've scoured the app and I can't find this feature.

One of Aussie Rules Live's strengths is that you can see the results from previous rounds, either by team or by round. You can also see the fixture by team or by round. According to the iTunes page, head-to-head historical results are coming soon. Aussie Rules Live's biggest weakness is the inability to see all the live scores on the one screen, or even get a quick list of who is playing this weekend. It really needs the Results tab to list every game of the current round by default, with live scores or results next to matches. The iTunes description also says it features "live text commentary for all games", but I couldn't see this during the Richmond v Carlton game.

There's no clear cut winner here, both are impressive apps with lots of polish yet both seem incomplete. Aussie Rules Live seems aimed at the die-hard fan who wants to quickly access information about their team, whereas Footy 2009 seems aimed more at the general fan who wants a snapshot of what's happening around the grounds.

If I was really into footy tipping or fantasy football I'd probably opt for Footy 2009 so I can keep an eye on every game. If I just cared about my club I'd be frustrated by Footy 2009's lack of a fixture and I'd probably opt for Aussie Rules Live and then fire up Safari to get live scores from somewhere like thescore.com.au, m.foxsports.com.au or t.sportsflash.com.au/wap2/. If I was a footy tragic, I'd probably just hand over eight bucks for both and enjoy the best of both worlds.