Apps For The Sports Fan
Few things engender fire and passion like sports. It's amazing how athletic competition has come to mean so much to so many people. Sports have the ability to excite, inspire, and transcend boundaries. True fans follow teams or players with unquestionable allegiance. The onset of mobile technology only facilitates such zeal. With the iPhone, fans can now digest scores, news, and other sports stuff, all in the palm of their hands. In this AppList, we explore some useful apps for sports fans.
Let's say you're on a date and missing the big game. You're dying to know the score, but don't want to offend your companion. ScoreMobile provides a quick, discreet way to check in on the action. Better yet, you can set real-time alerts to be sent to you. The app also does far more than relay scores. You can follow teams and players, view stats, read stories, and watch video clips. This app is an ideal sports sidekick for when you're on the go. It is also free.
Yahoo! Sportacular Pro
Yahoo Sportacular Pro is a similar app, in that it offers scores and alerts. However, it also gives you access to the Yahoo ecosystem, which may be a boon to some users. I include it here because it is popular. However, in my testing, I found ScoreMobile to be more robust. Sportacular Pro had long loading times, although I assume that will be corrected by update. There is also a free version of the app, which has ads. Strangely enough, the free version worked better for me than the paid version.
Wikibot — A Wikipedia Articles Reader
I wanted to include an app which taught the rules and history of different sports. There are some specialized apps for that purpose, but honestly, you get more information from Wikipedia. For that reason, I decided to spotlight a good Wikipedia app instead. Wikibot is well-regarded and possesses some nifty features. It has iCloud syncing across your devices, offline caching, and a read-it-later queue in the paid version of the app. There is also a free version, which has ads and lacks the read-later queue.
ESPN dubs itself the Worldwide Leader in Sports. In my opinion, ESPN's greatest asset is its stable of colorful sports personalities. Every day, I tune in to Skip Bayless, Stephen A. Smith, Bill Simmons, and the gents at PTI. You can hear them too, with the ESPN Radio app. You can either listen on demand or download the shows to your phone for offline use. There are also plenty of live stations for you to peruse, as well as SportsCenter updates every 20 minutes. Even when you can't watch sports, you can listen in.
Of course, watching sports is still the ideal. ESPN also produces WatchESPN, which allows you to stream live feeds from ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, and ESPNU. I streamed SportsCenter using the 4G on my iPhone 4S, and it worked like a charm. You would think that an app like this would get rave reviews. If you look in the App Store, however, you'll see a glut of one star reviews. This is because only a handful of Internet service providers currently offer access to live video. You also need ESPN as part of your television package. I'm one of the lucky ones to have access. If you're not, be patient and check back regularly, as new providers may be added.
Team Stream by Bleacher Report allows you to follow selected news and coverage of your favorite teams, as it breaks out across the Web. You can also set push notifications to get news immediately. The app does cull its news from many significant sources, but not every source. For instance, I did not see any articles from my favorite SB Nation blog. Team Stream is definitely a worthy stop. It just won't be my only one.
PlayUp - Where Sport Gets Social
By its nature, sports are incredibly social. Playup attempts to capitalize on that social element by designing their app around it. As described in the app, "The premise behind PlayUp is simple - create a space for all your favourite sports and friends to come together, or you choose a sporting encounter and you set-up [sic] a virtual, private hangout to discuss all aspects of the games with your buddies." I enjoyed the app's tiled layout. It is clean and visually appealing. The apps's functionality was also solid. Like any social network, the app's success will be determined by the community it attracts. None of my friends are on PlayUp, and I did not see too much action around the games I visited. The app also needs to feature more sports. Playup is a neat idea though, and has potential.
Ultimate Bet Pro: Sports Bet Tracker
Gambling is part of sports culture. Ultimate Bet Pro is a popular app to track your bets. Input straight, parlay, or confidence picks. The app also offers useful information for those who won't place any bets at all. You can view trends, health updates, weather reports, and more. In the app reviews, there are some positive comments about the developer's prompt customer service. This aligns with my own experience. I remember having questions about this app and getting very quick replies.
RotoWire.com Fantasy News Center
There are sports, and then there are fantasy sports. Rotowire is known for its in-depth fantasy coverage. What sets it apart is that it doesn't just tell you what happened to a player, it offers analysis as to what that means for your team. Although Rotowire is a paid service, it offers this news app for free. If you're serious about winning your league, I'd encourage you to explore getting a full subscription to the site. I've used it myself and can attest to its quality.
NFL Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet 2012
Speaking of fantasy sports, at the time of writing, the 2012-2013 football season was just about to start. As such, it seemed fitting to conclude this list with a fantasy football-specific app. NFL Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet 2012 is the official fantasy cheat sheet of the NFL. It offers rankings by different valuation methods, including average draft position (ADP), average auction value (AAV), and recommended picks based on a value based drafting (VBD) algorithm. You can draft multiple teams, create custom rankings, and find useful information for each player, even individual defensive players (IDP). Even if your favorite team stinks in real life, you can still lead your fantasy team to victory.