Review: Ubersense SwingReader Video App
It is often said that feel and reality don’t always agree. People also say pictures are worth a thousand words. By that logic, video, especially as it relates to something as complicated as a golf swing, must be worth its weight in gold. Many of us GolfWRX members already use video apps in our everyday practice and improvement plans. Some of us use them on our own and some with our instructors. I’m currently working to improve my game without direct instruction and video has proven to be a vital piece of equipment. There are many good video apps out there, such V1 Golf, which I’ve used for a couple years. However, with additional funding raised late last year, Ubersense has stepped up its game and the latest version of SwingReader has emerged as my go-to video app.
The speedy video processing and easy-to-use interface are the features that give SwingReader an edge over other video apps. If you’ve used the app in the past and haven’t recently, I’d recommend giving it a try again. If you haven’t tried it yet, you can download the free universal app from the App Store for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch running 6.0 and higher. And if you already use it everyday, that’s great, we’d love to hear about it in the comments section.
Fast video processing.
Simple and intuitive user interface.
Ability to record a video review.
Lots of support on its website.
It’s free — for now.
It’s only available for iOS at this time (but Android is in the works).
The lineup of pro golfers isn’t very robust at this time.
Yeah, that is pretty much it.
Video Recording and Ease of Use
I believe the best apps are created by people who are trying to solve a problem in their own life. They have a passion that comes out in the products they build. SwingReader was developed by golfers for golfers and it shows in every aspect of this app, starting with video recording. A big red button is waiting for you on the main screen, tap it and you’re almost instantly ready to record. You have easy access to recording options such as a countdown timer, trim options, the ability to switch cameras and import videos from your camera roll. As I said above, the real power is in the video processing. Once you tap the record button to stop recording video, it’s processed, saved and ready to go. Even importing videos is lighting fast. Unlike other apps that seem to take a long time to process the video, SwingReader does it in an instant. When I’m on the range and working on something, I want the instant feedback video provides, but I don’t want to get out of a rhythm. Speed is one of the main reasons I’ve switched to SwingReader.
But speed isn’t the only reason SwingReader is a great app. The entire interface is well thought out starting with the timeline view. Borrowing from other popular social apps, the latest update of SwingReader categorizes your swings by club and golfer, but once you dig into a specific club, your swings are laid out in a simple timeline view. This relatively simple concept is a huge time saver allowing you to instantly see your progress as you scan through your timeline in reverse chronological order.
Drawing Tools and Side-By-Side Comparison
Analyzing our swings (or your student’s swings if you’re an instructor) is one of the main reasons we download video apps and SwingReader has all our favorite tools laid out and ready for us. When it designed the tools, SwingReader paid close attention to things like the “fat finger rule” which means it made the buttons large enough to actually accommodate fingers. This is great when you’re on the range with a club in one hand and a phone in the other. You can scan through the video quickly and easily by swiping the right side of the screen or play the video at full speed or slowed all the way down to one-eighth speed.
When it comes to annotating and analyzing your swing, the drawing tools are easily accessible and organized at the top of the screen. All your favorite tools are included allowing you to draw free form, straight lines, circles and even angles. You can clear all the annotations with the click of a button or delete them individually. The lines even come in three different colors.
At first, all side-by-side comparison features appear the same as in other apps. But once you start using this feature, you’ll quickly see it’s very different than some of the other popular apps. This feature works best on the larger screen of the iPad but is still handy on the iPhone. As you expect, you can select other videos of yourself or someone else and they stack side-by-side. You can still use the drawing tools and overlay the videos, but the big difference with SwingReader is you can hit play and both videos will play simultaneously. This is helpful for a number of reasons and works really well when you overlay the videos.
We’ve all seen the slow-motion analysis of professional swings on TV. Unlike some of the other apps that require you to pay a premium for this feature, SwingReader includes the ability to record your own slow-motion video analysis of any swing. Once you hit the microphone icon at the top of the video screen, you can record your interactions with the video. You can play the swing, back it up, add and remove annotations and at the same time, have anything you say picked up by the microphone and added to the review. If you are using SwingReader on your own, you can use the video review feature to keep notes about your swing, what you are working on, where you need to improve, and include key details about the swing such as ball flight and contact.
As an instructor, you know how important video analysis is to helping your students improve and are probably using a variety of apps already. Without requiring a large monthly or yearly fee, SwingReader gives you the ability for your students to hear and see your instruction, tips and advice for their swings all within the same video. This turns static comments into dynamic content that will help your students learn and improve faster.
As with other features, it is relatively simple to share your swings with yourself, your instructor or anyone else. You can share via Facebook, YouTube, email, SMS and online at swingreader.com. You can also place your swings on Dropbox or Google Drive and save them to your camera roll. In another smart feature, you can easily open any acceptable video format directly into SwingReader from messages. No more saving videos to your Camera Roll first and then going into the app to import the swing, it’s automatic.
Tips and Drills
SwingReader is lacking in this area right now – within the app. It does provide tips and drills on its blog (see below). I expect they will likely continue to build out their library of professional swings in addition to tips and drills. Given that every golfer’s swing is different, I mostly rely on an instructor’s recommendation for tips and drills or my own research specific to what I’m working on, so this weakness isn’t a big factor for me personally.
Blog and Support
You can find a lot of great content on the Ubersense blog. The site contains everything from drills and analysis of professional swings, to instructional blog posts describing how to use key features of SwingReader. One thing I look for from companies is whether or not they keep their blog content fresh and SwingReader is doing a good job here. The team posted an analysis of Brandt Snedeker’s swing the day after his win at Pebble (check out his WITB here).
I’ve used and recommended other video apps in the past, but I’ve almost exclusively switched to SwingReader. All the major video applications have side-by-side comparisons, tips & drills and swings of professional golfers. What truly sets SwingReader apart, is the the fast video processing and smooth user experience that gives you the freedom to spend more time making and reviewing swings and less time waiting around. If you haven’t already, I would recommend downloading and giving it a try while it’s still free.