SBJ/November 28-December 4, 2011/In Depth

Apps we use and like

Staffers weigh in on some of the apps you’ll find on their smartphones and tablets

WatchESPN for iPhone
Primary content: Streamed channels: ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN3 and ESPN Goal Line

Summary: This app is the future of television. Subscribers of Time Warner Cable, Bright House and Verizon are able to stream four ESPN-branded channels and the ESPN3 broadband site to their mobile phones and tablets. Other cable operators and telcos are expected to sign up for the service, as well. The app works best with Wi-Fi, showing live ESPN programming with impeccable video quality. The app’s performance is spottier when it relies on 3G connectivity: the video frequently freezes and the app sometimes crashes altogether. Overall, the app has the potential to transform the way people commute, allowing them to watch most ESPN channels outside of the home.
Pros: Watch ESPN wherever you are; you no longer have to be tied to a cable.
Cons: Spotty video on 3G; delay as long as a minute with linear TV.

MLB At Bat 2011 for iPad
Primary content: Live game streaming, scores, news, highlights

Summary: Similar to the features in the 2010 version, the 2011 iteration has real-time updates to scores, stats, news and standings. Updated for this edition is the “batter’s-eye view,” in which every pitch is broken down by velocity, placement, break and pitch selection, all while looking at a picturesque view of the stadium in which the game is being played. Available for each game are a detailed box score, roster, play-by-play, highlights, home and away radio broadcasts, and a thorough summary. The best and most impressive feature, however, remains the live video streaming. A subscription to MLB.tv gets you access to home and away TV broadcasts for every game — blackout restrictions notwithstanding — at near-perfect video quality. In-game stats, play-by-play and scores make for a complete mobile viewing experience.
Pros: Video quality, extent of information, user-friendly layout.
Cons: Cost of app and subscription to MLB.tv, blackout restrictions.

NFL Mobile for Android
Primary content: Scores, highlights, live updates, fantasy tracker

Summary: Whether you are keeping track of your hometown team, fantasy team or just checking in on the rest of the league, this app features several useful tools. With news and highlights from every game, you can see the best plays and learn of the latest injuries as they happen. A subscription to Verizon’s V Cast enables you to watch NFL Network’s pregame and postgame analysis shows, as well as stream the NFL RedZone channel right to your phone. The customizable nature of the app lets you choose your favorite team, receive text message alerts for when you’re unable to watch a game, and set a roster of athletes to keep track of fantasy stats.
Pros: Customizability, depth and convenience of information.
Cons: Slow updates, alerts; limited selection of live video.

NBC Sports Talk for Android
Primary content: Breaking news, analysis

Summary: This is a fantastic app for news aggregation and analysis across the four major U.S. pro leagues, college football, golf and Notre Dame football. The app stays on top of breaking news, linking readers to a wide range of other sites, while NBC writers often provide insightful analysis or pithy commentary. Users also can share articles with others with ease. The app allows for each navigation to move from story to story.
Pros: Good commentary from NBC Sports’ stable of writers. Easy to navigate.
Cons: Lacks news on sports like soccer, college basketball, tennis and auto racing.

Yahoo Sportacular for Android
Primary content: Scores, schedules, live updates

Summary: One of the top apps for following a host of sports, whether it’s MLB, NASCAR, the ATP World Tour or La Liga soccer. Information provided ranges from breaking news to standings to previous games/tournaments/races. The app can be customized for favorite teams, with alerts for the start/end of games, score changes, quarter changes or overtime. Clicking on upcoming games provides TV listings as well. A widget available for the home page provides the most recent scores for favorite teams.
Pros: Easy to navigate, wide range of leagues and sports.
Cons: Lack of video content. Not designed to follow fantasy players.
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