Just recently, I was doing some research on TV Show Apps to Stay In Touch with Your Favourite Characters, and the last thing I included was an app to track my favourite NHL team, the Edmonton Oilers. That might have been a reach as far as the title of the article goes, but sports is definitely full of characters and a large portion of our television watching time is dedicated to sports.
If you’re one of those people that have cut the cable television and only get Netflix, you miss out on the big games. In my office, showing up not knowing what happened in last night’s hockey game can make one a pariah rather quickly! Almost as quickly as using the word ‘pariah’. But this app sends notifications to me when anyone scores or there’s a big play. I know what’s happening as fast as anyone watching TV or listening to the radio. Maybe even faster. Sometimes there are a few seconds delay intentionally put into sports events just in case something unthinkable happens and they need to censor the broadcast.
Of course, as soon as I showed this app to anyone, they wanted to know if there was something like that for their team or sport. There probably is, just Google it! But that’s too easy. Instead, I’m going to review a bunch of different ways that you can keep track of the big game on Android phones.
Mixed Martial Arts
Whether you think this is a dignified event, or just a blood sport, MMA is definitely hot. The biggest name in the game today is the UFC – Ultimate Fighting Championship. Fortunately, for Netflix viewers, the fight nights are broadcast usually a few weeks after the actual event. That way you can see every debilitating drop-kick and carotid-crushing chokehold for yourself. To my mind it is a ballet played out in blood.
But who wants to wait a few weeks to find out who won? And for old farts like me – who wants to go to a pub, pay a cover charge and watch the fun while swilling soda because you don’t drink? Time to check out some apps.
Minimalist design is the key to this app as UFC really wants you to use it as a mini-TV for their pay-per-view matches. It isn’t quite clear if you purchase the event on your Android phone if it is available ONLY for your Android phone or for your television as well. For example, the recent UFC 158 with Georges St. Pierre vs. Nick Diaz costs $50 to watch. Why would I pay that much to watch it on a phone screen? I don’t know. But what the app does have that makes it worth downloading is the News section. This is updated pretty much as fast as the fight ends, so you’ll at least know before your buddy calls and spoils it for you.
Somewhat better than the official UFC app is the MMA Summit app. It has the prerequisite Upcoming Match screen on the first page, but if you click on the Results button you get what happened in recent fights around the world. Not just UFC though, which is kind of nice, so you can see who the up-and-coming talent is. If that’s not enough news for you , you can also use the sidebar menu to access the most recent MMA news as it is updated. Of course, you see many other options on the sidebar menu, not the least of which is the Fighter Rankings and Stats. I’d recommend this app over the official UFC app.
Rugby is the ultimate team sport and once people realize that, they’re really keen on following it. There is a position for almost every size and shape of person on the team and each member of the team has to do their part, or they will lose. There are no superstars to carry the team – there are no Jordan’s or Gretzky’s who can just up and dominate a game. As the team grows together the wins come easier.
It’s no wonder there is no shortage of rugby to be had anywhere in the world now. Currently, I’m following Super Rugby out of Australia. And yes, there is an official app for that.
This app is brought to you by FOX television. It’s a tasteful and usable interface with the features that I want. Although the immediate updates are a bit buried. You have to go into the matches and select one in order to follow the action. Once you do, you see that it’s laid out quite nicely with each significant play being reported through the app. You can also view the highlight reels of those plays in almost real-time. I’m also not sure what the significance is of choosing your team right as you enter the app either. It doesn’t appear to affect anything. I chose the Brumbies, because the first match I watched in Super Rugby was the Brumbies and they won.
You can find apps to follow just about any rugby league or union that you enjoy. I just chose Irish Rugby because, well, look at my last name! It seems a given. The official IRFU app focuses heavily on the national team, yet it also brings you information about club and provincial league. The MatchDayLive part of the app functions as a news ticker to keep you apprised of the happenings. Unfortunately, in this case, the Irish boys lost.
From the makers of the Oilers app, Yinzcam, comes official apps for such NFL heavyweights as 2012′s Super Bowl Champions the Baltimore Ravens. Nearly identical in function to the Oilers app I mentioned before, it is easy to use and comes with the ability to set up push notification for important game events like game scores or draft picks. If you’re in the stadium you can also watch the came with different camera angles. If you are not, they do also have a live video feed you can connect to during the game. What Yinzcam is doing with their apps works for so many sports. I think they have a formula that most teams should use or at least draw ideas from it. Obviously it’s working since they have developed the official app for 30 professional sports teams.
The world’s most popular sport is finally making real inroads into North America with Major League Soccer. Some real top notch players are even coming over here from Europe, where the most lucrative contracts are. Major League Soccer’s MatchDay app helps us to keep in touch with what’s up in the latest matches. You can customize the app a bit so it focuses more on your favorite team. I’ve chosen the Vancouver White Caps FC. As you can see, the menu offers you several features including Scores, Videos, News, Standings, video of the Goal of the Week, and Alerts.
The Alerts feature is the important part here. It functions in much the same way that the Ravens’ app does., giving you live updates on goals and plays as text messages. Yet, with this being an app to follow a whole league you can narrow it down to get alerts for just one match, or for just your favorite club.
Sports in General
For the true sports fan, who wants to keep a finger on the pulse of everything, there are apps that do a good job of letting you know what’s going on with almost any league and any team. theScore app is particularly good at this. You can see that professional and college leagues are covered and you can set alerts much like in the other apps. What set’s this app apart though is the ability to create a group of players to follow. It could be just the top 10 in a league so you can watch the rivalry, or maybe it’s going to be the dream team you’ve chosen for the office sports pool. Either way, it’s a more intimate way to keep up to date on what your heroes are doing. By signing up with theScore through the MyScore tab, you can have your results customized even further. The app works very well without it though.
This may well be the only sports app that you need. The thing that impressed me most was the inclusion of a simple tutorial that shows when you first start the app. It’s easily bypassed, but at least it is there. Good thinking, developers! The granularity of the application is also very impressive, allowing you to drill down into almost every league and team in the sports represented. Again, great design. The news also includes lots of video clips. That’s one of the benefits of being a sports television station, is that you have lots of video content. But if you really want anything useful from this application you must sign up for an account with ESPN ScoreCenter. You can also login using your Facebook account. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, I just don’t like signing up for things in order for them to work well. If you’d like more detail on this app, check out Danny Stieben’s review, “Get Detailed Sports Scores And Stats With ESPN Scorecenter.”
March is a great month of us armchair athletes. We’ve got pro hockey, baseball, basketball, and rugby. We’ve got college basketball at its finest with March Madness. These great apps will help you take it all in, or at least as much as you can handle. Can you handle one more thing?
How about letting us know if these apps are useful to you in the comments? If you have a lead on any other promising sports apps to follow a game on Android, we’d love to hear about that as well. C’mon, take one for the team!
Image Credits: Indiana U Soccer Fans via WikiCommons