When the Summer Olympics were held in Beijing four years ago, apps were just hitting the pop-cultural radar and there were a limited number of titles to download. Today we live in a world with more than 1.5 million apps available for smartphones and tablet devices.
So whether you are interested tracking the performance of a particular athlete or country, want to watch competitions not easily found on television, or dream to one day go for the gold yourself, there are several apps to tap into. Here are five of the best.
London 2012: Official Results App (iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry, Windows free)
While the spectacle of the Opening Ceremonies in London will be remembered for generations, the focus right now is on the friendly competition between nations and athletes. The best way to track the performances of the approximately 10,500 athletes who are representing more than 200 countries is through the London 2012: Official Results App. Developed by the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, the free app provides comprehensive and up-to-date information about virtually every competition through the end of the Paralympics on September 9. From Archery to Wrestling, the app details everything from what nations are collecting the most medals to the biographies, event schedules and performances of every participant.
The Official Results app has a clean and intuitive interface that makes it easy to find the sports and athletes that matter most to you. Users can personalize settings to receive customized news by country, and also cheer on their favorite teams and athletes through an internal Twitter template. Best of all, nearly everyone with a smartphone or tablet can download the app as it is available in the Apple, Google, BlackBerry and Microsoft stores. If you are fortunate enough to be attending the Games or just want to know more about local activities, you can also download the official London 2012 Join In App. That free application is available on iOS, Android and BlackBerry devices.
NBC Olympics Live Extra (iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry free)
Although far from a Perfect 10, this app from the exclusive Olympics television rights holder in the United States is a worthy download that showcases more than 3,500 hours of live and prerecorded video from virtually every event at the London 2012 Games. Let’s get the bad stuff out of the way here first. After an initial trial period, the app makes users confirm that they subscribe to a cable or satellite service that carries CNBC and MSNBC. So even with no download cost, this app is not exactly free. Even if you do pay for cable or satellite television, locating the required username and password associated with your account can be a hassle. And if you watch the app for long enough, you will notice some video lags and performance issues.
Having said all of that, the NBC Olympics Live Extra app is a great option for Olympics junkies who want to watch live and recorded video footage from all the events from the office, on the road, or anywhere without access to a television screen. If you have an Apple TV and recent generation iPhone or iPad, you can watch high definition footage and alternate camera angles provided by the app on the big screen and not be forced to go with whatever is currently on the NBC networks. There is also the NBC Olympics app for iOS and Android devices, which serves as a nice companion app to the television broadcasts. This app includes social media feeds from Twitter and Facebook, as well as news, athlete profiles and other extra footage.
Showyou (iPhone, iPad free)
If you are more of a casual fan of the Olympics and want to find footage of events or back-stories of athletes and nations that most interest you, the free Showyou video discovery app is worth downloading. Showyou helps you find video clips from sites like YouTube or Vimeo that are shared by your Facebook friends or people you follow on Twitter. The app has indexed nearly 30,000 Olympics-related clips so far, and is incorporating hundreds of new videos each day. It is a good place to see which Olympics-related viral clips are trending. Just as a heads up, some of the clips appearing on Showyou may eventually get removed from NBC and other official rights holders. Other apps that help you see what Olympics events your friends are watching are the IntoNow iPad application (which is owned by Yahoo!) and Are You Watching This?, which is available on Android devices and Google TV.
NBA JAM by EA SPORTS (iPhone 99 cents, iPad $4.99, Android $4.99)
A big barroom debate heading into the Summer Games involved whether or not the 2012 Men’s Basketball team would beat the famous Dream Team that mesmerized the world in Barcelona 20 years ago. While there is no way to know for sure if LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant would have a chance against Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird circa 1992, fans can hold virtual competitions with NBA Jam. The app lets players field squads from multiple eras, allowing members of old school and new school NBA factions to take matters into their own hands (literally). The game, which may force you to pay for extra in-app features to “unlock” classic players, doesn’t have likenesses from every 1992 Dream Teamer due to licensing issues. However, it does include a vintage 1990s soundtrack. If basketball is not your thing, but you want to play games based on your favorite Olympic sports, you can also download the London 2012 – Official Mobile Game apps for iOS and Android devices.
Michael Johnson Motiv8 (iPhone $2.99)
For anyone with aspirations to one day compete in the Olympics – or who likes to use the semi-annual event as an excuse to shed a few pounds – the Michael Johnson Motiv8 iPhone and iPod Touch app at $2.99 is a worthy investment. The app includes training tips and motivational speeches from the 4-time Track and Field gold medalist. Upload music tracks to the app, and Johnson will even offer feedback on your selections. More functionally, the app also maps the distance and speed of your runs, and brag about personal bests to your friends on Facebook and Twitter.