How new technology is transforming the Bansko App; part 1

Oct 01, 2013 No Comments by

Ready steady go; morning speed: Picture taken 5th March 2013

These are exciting times for mobile hardware and software. So for something different, I’m unleashing my inner geek and looking at what’s new in the tech world and its influence on the new version of the Bansko mobile app.

First off, Apple’s iOS 7 upgrade is more than a fresh lick of paint. It’s a new design direction that affects all app developers’ thinking. It is just one of the reasons why I waited to see how the major apps were going to adapt their updates to the new iOS 7 look. We’ve now raided the new iOS 7 toolbox and I’m delighted to show the changes to the Bansko App. The first of many over the next six months.

More of that later.

Secondly, I take a look at the technology of the newest iphone models to see if there’s anything there that will enhance our user experience of ski and sports apps.

I use mobile devices for both the Android and Apple ecosystems, so all users should read on.


Lust-worthy tech

Apple have kept up their record for innovation in the recent launch. The champagne gold iphone 5s is suitably lust-worthy. I’m sure the 5c will be the gift of choice for many a young boy (in blue) and girl (in pink). Some parents will be working hard to justify to themselves the indulgence this Christmas. I can help you on this one; the iphone 5c replaces their small games consoles, their ipod touch, and it’s an all in one gaming and communication device they will thank Santa for.

Then there’s been the ongoing story of Blackberry’s dramatic decline; their  financial loss of over $1.5 bn and their move to private ownership. Even the diehard Crackberry fans are struggling to find a reason to refresh their handset; unless it’s a company phone freebie.

I follow Blackberry, because I intended this year to put out a version of the Bansko app for Blackberry users. But now few apps can justify this expense for the dwindling user base. I’m sorry.

Even more shocking news, is that I never imagined ten years ago that we would witness the legendary Nokia sell its handset business to Microsoft. An inevitable decline , especially when you read that Nokia spent $21m on advertising and Samsung splashed $401m in advertising in 2012. We’ll see how the Microsoft OS smart phone user base grows over the next six months. If you’ve purchased an MS operating system smart phone, comment below.

With the departure of Steve Ballmer of Microsoft, the launch of Samsung’s Galaxy Gear wrist watch (not lust-worthy, btw) and even more rumours on a new Apple iWatch, the torrent of tech stories is now a tsunami of change. Needless to add, that the stuff that sells gadgets is gold, I mean champagne. So more multi coloured ipads are on their way.

Bansko App on iphone


Wearable technology

As I type, I’ve just read that Google will soon open up the SDK (software developer’s kit/devkit) for Google glass. That’s the uber geeky glasses with a heads up display which is being tested on the Google developer set. But it’s the plummeting in the price of  computerised sensors that will make wearable technology become a reality. Nike’s fuel wristband is probably the most popular gadgets of its type at the moment.

The data these “wearables” collect will be part of our personal “cloud”. I expect all this new tech will open up some useful new stuff for mountain lovers.

But there’s one thing that I expect to be ubiquitous amongst all smart phones very soon, finger print ID.

So these are the technology trends. Now let’s see how it affects winter sports and mountain enthusiasts.


The future of ski gadget technology

But before I examine development in ski tracking tech, there are three things that are transformational with regard to the new iphone 5s.

1. the new motion coprocessor that provides geo location data (i.e. location) with very low battery power

2. the iBeacon (low power Bluetooth)

3.  the finger print ID sensor

And a bonus feature, in case you missed it earlier, it’s now available in champagne gold.

Do I need a gold* one? I really think so…


Can technology help, or hinder, when used on the mountain?

For some time, Recon have been providing technology for ski goggles. But now they’ve teamed up with Oakley to produce the “Airwave” specialist goggles that have a heads-up display.

But is this the future? Can I be bothered with a separate wrist controller? Do I want to spend $600 on all this? Do I want to concentrate on tech, rather than the magical mountain moments.

No. It’s all too much.

The things is, that most of us are carrying a smart phone when out on the mountain. So when taking family ski trips, why would we want to stack up more financial expense? Some die hard folks might crave a heads-up display, but I’m certain most people really can’t get excited about this prospect. Especially when we have so much hi-tech processing power, all ready to use, in our smart phone.

I enjoy a good gadget, but I really don’t need another thing to charge up every evening. Just trying to remember to charge the phone, the GoPro and my Nikon battery is more than enough. And that list is in addition to the tech that stays at home; such as tablets, speaker and laptop.


Speed and tracking  apps

Last ski season I tested some ski speed apps. Some, like sportstracker I’ve extensively used for mountain biking.

These apps provide quite a lot of data. But I typically didn’t bother looking at all the numbers, except for speed and distance. Some apps were just too fiddly to use when on the slopes. Overall, I feel that the usability was not quite as good as it could be — especially considering these are big budget apps.

The issues that irked me were: white on black text, small font size and too much info on the screen. The designers and developers should place more focus on usability, rather than cramming in a load of features.

On the mountain, all apps were heavy on that, oh-so-precious, battery life.

User tip: An iphone’s battery (iphone 5s not tested) gives up on me and turns the phone off when exposed to sub zero temperatures. Especially when battery life is around 10% or below. It will turn back on when warmed up again. Keep your ithingy warm in an inside pocket. In tests, it’s the feature phones, especially old Nokias, that still operate down to -40 C. Those clever Finnish folk know how to engineer a phone for their own climate. In tests (see older Samsung smart phones are amongst the best for operation at colder temperatures.

Snowboarding and skiing is about enjoying the moment, and not letting technology dominate. I found I only wanted to use these apps for one or two runs a day and I was only interested in my maximum speed and distance.

That’s enough detail to brag to your friends whilst on the lift back up, and plenty to prove tales of derring-do in the bar afterwards.

Any more than that was too much data. And battery drain. As mentioned, the battery indicator moves to empty much faster when exposed to the cold, so be sure to keep your phone in an inner pocket and keep plenty of charge for emergencies.

"My Stats" -- a Bansko App feature


“My Stats”; the new Bansko app solution

With all this in mind, I decided to kick off the Bansko mobile app’s new feature with stripped down functionality.

The guiding principle being that “less is more”.

I wanted something that all skiers and riders can learn to operate in a just few seconds. There are two buttons to touch.

1.  one icon “My Stats” to touch in the app, and

2.  another button “Start” — which is also the “Stop” button.

It’s designed like this because I didn’t want to have to think to use this feature, and nor should you.


Speed tracking solution found

After discussions with the developers of other tracking apps, I decided to develop from scratch all the new features for the Bansko App. I was after intuitive operation and general ease of use with no roaming signal or WiFi required. Large, and simple, buttons that can be understood in any language were duly specified.

That’s why, in the “My Stats” feature, it’s a start button, and the same icon to touch to stop recording.

I also need to find a way for Bansko skiers and snowboarders to share their statistics with others at any one time. Both on, or off, the mountain. The one touch system comes without the need for registration. Sharing the stats is an option and requires roaming or WiFi.

Bansko appUser tip: Free WiFi is located at Banderishka Poliana, Kettle Sings, VIP Room, Izvorite Hotel, Peshterite (expected for 2013/14) and Shiligarnika restaurant area.

The aim is to make the sharing part more fun. And to go at least some way to achieving this objective, I’ve negotiated sponsored prizes for Bansko App users. With a mix of distance and speed of the day.

So all I need now is an instant thumb and finger access in our ski & snowboarding gloves.


You’re an honorary geek for making it to the bottom of this article.


Thank you for reading, and stay tuned for part 2 of the upcoming iOS 7 changes in Bansko App. Please comment if you have more ideas for features.

NOTE: The beta version of this feature will go live as part of a number of new features and improvements in the forthcoming upgrade for the Bansko App. It’s still all for free.

*They’ll be plenty of sparkling new Android Galaxy gold phones glistening in your local phone store. In no time at all.



  • The “My Stats” feature is free. And you can help to keep free… (Note that iphone/ipad update will be late October and Android mid November)
  • Please rate and review the Bansko app. It takes less than a minute.
  • Your comments; a thumbs up a on video snow report, a Google +1, a like, a retweet help a lot. Growing usage means that it makes it more attractive for business advertisers to be part of the Bansko app.


Tips of the day

  • Click here to book your discounted transfers, ski hire, lessons, lift passes now
  • FREE microfibre large lens cleaner for every person in your group — only for online ski package bookings
  • The Essential Guide To Bansko — subscribe for your free 71 page E-Guide



Skiing & Snowboarding

About the author

I enjoy tech, apps, entrepreneurship, podcasting and collaboration with others. I love travelling as well as skiing, hiking, MTB, paragliding, cooking and good food.
No Responses to “How new technology is transforming the Bansko App; part 1”

Leave a Reply