The 2016 Summer Olympic Games are underway, and will be entertaining sports fans around the world till the 21st of August. As with every Olympics, there are so many events happening all the time that it’s difficult to keep a track of your favorites.
Thankfully, technology has made this much easier than it used to be. This time, there are several apps to tell you everything you need to know, and even offer highlights when you want it. But there’s a lot of rubbish out there, like the official Olympics app that provides nothing of real value.
So let’s cut through the clutter and find the actually useful apps and web sites. If you want to know when Usain Bolt is running his next race or if you’d like to find out how your country performed yesterday, these are the tools you need.
Google Olympics (Web): Where to Watch, Today’s Schedule, and Everything Else
Funnily, the best way to get information about any athlete, event, or country is to just Google the term “Olympics 2016”. The search engine giant has made the most of its Knowledge Graph technology and built a mini-website for the Olympics, which works through Google.com itself.
The graphic interface shows the important upcoming events, along with their timing localized to your current timezone. Tap the “On TV” tab to see your local sports channels’ Olympics airing schedule for the day.
The “Athletes” tab shows the current trending athletes, and you can sort them further by country, sport, or gender. Head to the “Country” tab to see all the events in which a particular country’s athletes are scheduled to play.
Along with a medals tally and full schedule, Google has done a bang-up job of giving answers to the most common questions that most users would have. At this point, you don’t need to go to any other site to look up basic information.
RioCal (Android, iOS | $1.99): Calendar with Notifications for Athletes or Events
If you aren’t really interested in the Olympics at large and just want to follow a few events or athletes, RioCal is the app you need. The download is free and you have a one hour trial, but after that, you’ll need to pony up two dollars.
Download the app on your phone and you’ll see sports and athletes as the two main sections. Tap a sport, pick the event you’re interested in, and sync the calendar. You can also tap athletes to choose individual athletes to follow. However, you can’t follow an entire country in one tap, you’ll need to individually follow each athlete from that country.
You can set RioCal to remind you about the event automatically, and for some reason, this is the only app to do it well right now. Two bucks so you don’t miss Usain Bolt breaking a new record? Worth it!
r/Olympics (Web): The Only Place for Olympic GIFs!
Speaking of Reddit, the official Olympics subreddit is the only place you’ll get to see GIFs of the best moments from this year’s Games. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has officially banned media from creating GIFs, so your only option to speak the Internet’s language is user-submitted GIFs on Reddit.
The r/Olympics subreddit is constantly being updated by people around the world. Unlike many news sites, it isn’t US-centric, so you’ll get global coverage of events and players.
It also serves as a good way to use Reddit productively for Games-related news and get your questions answered in case you find something confusing.
Twitter (Web): The Best Moments for Your Country, and a Full Athletes’ List
Social networking giant Twitter is pulling out all the stops to make it easy for you to follow the Olympics. In its quest, it has made the best way to check your country’s progress so far.
The Twitter Moments tab will give you country-specific highlights for whichever region you are accessing the social network from. If you’re signed in with the official Twitter app, you can even follow sports or events. But remember, you can use Twitter without signing up for an account on the web.
The Moments tab will serve as a good indication of who you should follow to get constant updates. Twitter has also created a Twitter list of all athletes at Rio, so you get to see what your favorite sports stars are up to.
NBC Sports on YouTube (Web): The Best Place for Highlights
The IOC is taking down unauthorized videos on YouTube and other places. Your best bet to watch highlights is an official partner, and on YouTube, the people doing the best job are the folks at the NBC Sports YouTube channel.
NBC Sports has an Olympics playlist, updated regularly, in case you don’t want to see clips of any other sports outside the 2016 Games. The reliability of the clip, the English commentary, and the high quality of the video make this one a winner when compared to any unofficial source.
Of course, the NBC Sports YouTube channel is only available for viewers in the US, but you can easily bypass regional restrictions on YouTube to watch any clip. I recommend using the BetterNet extension.
For country-specific highlights, you might want to see if your local official broadcaster is uploading their highlights packages on the web. You can find your local provider through the Google Knowledge Graph.
What’s Got You Excited in the Olympics?
The 2016 Olympics might be the last time we get to see the world’s fastest man run on a track. Usain Bolt is the highlight of this year’s games, while Michael Phelps is back again to get more gold medals than anyone in history. I can’t wait to see them in action!
Which athletes or events have got you excited in this Olympics? Which events are you adding reminders for in your calendar?