Apps For Following The Olympics
For more than 100 years, the Olympic Games have highlighted the pinnacle of human performance, but they have also brought people across the world together— much like the Internet. Despite this similarity, the Olympics have always had a somewhat difficult relationship with the Internet: online streaming of events was not permitted for many years, and even today social media use is restricted. The good news is that things have changed enough to allow the Olympics to be be streamed online. The decision to reverse previous policies on online availability shows the growing importance of the Internet in general and, more specifically, the iPad. It sounds crazy, but the first iPad wasn’t even on sale when the 2010 Winter Olympics were held, and now all of the events are watchable in iPad apps. Apple and Olympics enthusiasts should be pleased to see iOS devices receiving several official and unofficial apps to follow the games. Yes, that’s right, you can track your favorite athletes, sports, countries, and even watch live events with your iPhone and iPad. It’s important to note that some of these apps are region-specific, but they should have analogues in your country’s AppStore (e.g., the U.K. AppStore has a BBC Live app, and Canadians can use the CTV app). If you follow our list, you’re guaranteed not to miss a minute of your preferred events!
London 2012: Official Results App for the Olympic and Paralympic Games
The first place to start your personal Olympics coverage is the official apps, which are all surprisingly good. The London 2012 Official Results app is poorly named, because it includes far more than just results. The ad-supported app has news stories about events currently taking place, a calendar of events, a list of all the sports with descriptions, videos, and other information, a medal count, athlete profiles, and the ability to set favorites and reminders for events. Unfortunately, this information can be difficult to access, as the app’s user interface has too many levels—it often requires multiple clicks to find what you want. Still, if you’re persistent, it likely has what you are looking for.
Another option for basic information is the NBC Olympics app, which has some great content but is extremely sluggish. If you can stand a loading graphic after each touch of an icon, you will find photos, videos, and social media information in addition to the news, athlete profiles, and schedules. The app also includes a “primetime companion,” which could be interesting if NBC adds more than a basic Twitter feed.
NBC Sports Live Extra
The jewel in the official app crown is NBC Olympics Live Extra, the app that allows virtually any cable subscriber to watch Olympics events live on their iPhone or iPad. Complaints about the app’s sluggishness or large ads should be tempered with the memory of how long people have clamored for the ability to watch Olympic events live, even in a tiny browser window. Full screen iPad videos, then, are a gift. Unfortunately, if you don’t subscribe to any of the supported cable plans, you’ll have to make do with the other NBC app and the official YouTube channel.
Reuters Olympics London 2012
If the somewhat garish official apps become overwhelming, you can turn to Reuters London 2012 for a more relaxed, photo-oriented experience. The app is built around real time photos taken by Reuters journalists covering the Games. As might be expected, the photos are beautiful, dynamic, and look great on the iPhone or iPad’s screen, especially in photo stream mode. Reuters London 2012 is very well-designed, with an attractive interface that includes a schedule, results, medal count, notifications, world records, and even articles and social media related to the photo you’re viewing.
Curly's pocket guide to sports.
When you inevitably find a sport you don't know in one of the apps, don't ignore it, because it could be a hidden gem like curling! Instead, turn to Curly’s Pocket Guide to Sports, an app that breaks down the rules, basics, and gameplay of nearly every Olympic event. Best of all, the text is clearly written, and the app’s bright colors and illustrations almost make reading the rules fun.
Tweetbot for Twitter (iPhone & iPod touch)
If you decide you want to share your newfound love of dressage or badminton, Twitter seems to be the platform of choice for these Olympics. NBC made the partnership official, and created an "events page" (#Olympics) to collect tweets from athletes, teams, and news organizations. Since Twitter is so intertwined with the Olympics this year, it behooves you to get a better Twitter client than the official app (if you don't have one already). The best Twitter client available for either device is Tweetbot, as it provides the best, most comprehensive Twitter experience.
Office Jerk Summer Games Edition for iPad
At some point in your viewing, you’re going to get frustrated with a judge who seems blind, but Office Jerk Summer Games Edition (available for iPhone or iPad) has you covered! The Olympic Games version of the popular app lets you throw paper, hot dogs, and other objects at judges in an Olympic arena. The game can be repetitive, but it’s surprisingly satisfying to throw things at a judge, even a virtual one. I actually laughed out loud at what happens when you throw money at the judge (I won’t spoil it).
Flipboard: Your Social News Magazine
The Olypmics are long, and there are many hours of taped events, so it’s impossible to see everything. That’s where Flipboard comes in. The popular content aggregation app has released multiple Olympics-related curated sections, many of which focus on an individual sport. Flipboard’s clean interface is great for viewing visual content, which makes it the perfect way to stay up to date on everything.