Many players carry smart phones and they are naturally interested in using a smartphone app for measuring. An umpire won’t use a smartphone app in an FIPJP-sanctioned competition, but of course you can use one in friendly games. (See also our post on Measuring boule to jack.)
There are several questions that can be asked about any measuring technology.
- How quickly can a measurement be made?
- How likely are you to accidentally move a boule or jack when using it?
- How accurate is it?
- How easy is it to use?
- How expensive is it? How much does it cost?
One of the primary benefits of a smartphone app is that it can make measurements quickly that involve no risk of touching and moving boules or jack. For players that already own a smartphone, the cost is essentially zero. For players with knee, back, eyesight, or stability issues, a smartphone can be a great tool— you can measure without squatting or getting down on your knees. (Or you could simply leave measuring to a team-mate with younger knees! 🙂 )
The real issue with smartphone apps is accuracy. If you are considering using a smartphone app, our recommendation is to test it. Play a few games and, in situations where you need to measure, measure with the smartphone app AND a tape measure (or better still, an umpires rule). Compare the results. If you find that the smartphone app gives the same results as the tape measure, then use either one. If the smartphone app gives different results than the tape measure, don’t trust it; use the tape.
UPDATE: May 2023
I’m a traditionalist— I measure with an umpires rule. So I haven’t been keeping up with this topic since I originally posted about it in 2014. But I think there has been a lot of progress in this area in the last 10 years. Now, in 2023, what I can say is that petanque measuring apps seem to be much more accurate than they were a few years ago, and there are many more of them. Just Google smartphone measuring app petanque.
A couple of petanque measuring apps that were mentioned in our post in 2014, are:
Wilma Reiber of Tucson Petanque and Oro Valley Petanque reports that they have been using these:
Boulomètre for iPhone/Android
Booble gives you the distances in numbers and tells you which boule is closest and the next and next etc.
Pétanque Precision just shows circles around the cochonnet that make it easy to see which boules are closest. It’s therefor the least precise.
Tape Measure for Pétanque numbers the boules by proximity and shows thin circles. I set it so that it automatically takes the picture when the phone is completely level. I personally like Tape Measure for Pétanque best, but it seems to be hard to find for iPhones.
Share your experiences
If you’ve been using a smartphone app, and have something useful to say about it, leave us a comment (below) and share your experiences. Other players that are looking at this new technology will be interested.
I’ve found that the Petanque app for Android is the best, as the screen provides a left and right progressive alignment via little moving sensors that help you ensure you’re holding your smartphone parallel to the measuring area. The only fault of the app is that is meant to enable taking a pic via the camera, save the image and allow for close scrutiny of distances. That feature doesn’t work… no pics are saved.
Other than that, it is a far better and easier to use Android app than the other two I have found.
I’m using an app for the iPhone called Booble made by a French programmer called Matole. It makes sure that it doesn’t take the photograph before the camera is horizontal, and the measurement is very accurate and relatively fast, maybe a little longer time than with a tape measure. See THIS.