SBD/June 3, 2014/Media

App Review: theScore For iPad Offers Easy Customization But Few Video Features

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theScore app offers the option to follow select leagues, teams and players
Personal, intuitive and thorough are a few ways to describe theScore for iPad. The app successfully marries the written word with mobile consumption while also providing realtime scores and stats for over 20 sports -- and does all of this with very little video. While it contains scores, stats and news from most sports, theScore focuses on a custom user experience, offering the option to follow select leagues, teams and players. Upon launch, the app swiftly guides users to select their favorites. Favorites are then combined to create My Score, a custom feed of scores and related news. Navigation is well suited for the iPad, with a triple layer “column” design that moves from left to right. A vertical stack of icons living on the far left of the screen controls what appears in the second column, and tapping on a content item in the second column opens a third layer of information. For example, tapping on NHL opens a mixed second column feed of live game scores, recent news and past results. Tapping on a live game score reveals third column information including previews, stats, plays and summaries. Tapping on main navigation items opens a sliding sub-menu for some selections, including My Score, which offers a news feed, scores and favorites. Top news, hot games, featured content and content by league are also available. Developed in-house, theScore is an ad-supported free download available on iOS, Android and Blackberry devices. This review was conducted on an iPad 2 version 7.1.1.

RIGHT ON TARGET: Reading sports news is surprisingly enjoyable in the iPad layout, and font size can be adjusted to viewer preference. Written content is largely from theScore staff, with supporting articles from other news sources like the AP. Relevant video -- embedded via YouTube -- lies within some full text articles, and tweets from sports writers are also intertwined with text. Replying, retweeting or favoriting tweets is seamless. Many articles contain link-outs to more information, and these open new windows that are easily viewed and minimized without distracting from the experience. Even video can be watched on other sites without leaving the app. Using the My Score favorites feature, users can follow not only leagues, teams and players, but also individual games. This “cherry-picking” functionality is nice for fans that only want scores sometimes. As for the app’s scores and stats, these refresh within seconds of live action with a simple pull down of the main feed. Auto-refresh timing can also be set, with the shortest time lag being 1 minute. The app offers an extensive list of customizable alerts, and these are pushed out in a timely fashion. Each alert also contains a link into the related content item. All of the app’s content is searchable and sharable via Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and e-mail.

OFF THE MARK: There is room for more video in the app. Embedded clips (via YouTube) can be found within some news articles, but for the most part, the app is about words. The addition of a game recap video might be a nice way to integrate streaming content without changing the focus of the app. In-app advertising is sparse and behind the times. A few in-feed self-promotions and some banner ads below content are rotated, but as seen in other apps like ESPN SportsCenter, there is a way to serve sponsor information quietly and effectively.

BOTTOM LINE: theScore delivers a well thought out app focusing on scores, stats and written content. It is clear that time has been spent on the details, and this makes for an excellent user experience. There is room for more video and the advertising model can be improved, but these are minor criticisms for what is truly a compelling tool for curating a highly individualized sports information experience.

Amie Sheridan (amie.sheridan31@gmail.com) is a freelance writer in Philadelphia.

See Sheridan's previous App Review submissions for THE DAILY:
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