CBS Sports: College for IPhone
Being a serious college football fan is hard work. Each Saturday brings a slew of games, spread throughout conferences all over the country. If you want to take it all in, just manning the remote so as not to miss anything can be a challenge--and that assumes your Saturdays are free of any other responsibilities.
That's where CBS Sports: College comes in handy. The app provides plenty of information for fans of college football (and, once the season starts, college hoops, too). And if you have school ties to a college in the southeastern part of the U.S., this $5 app should be particularly appealing.
Developed by CBS Interactive, and powered by MobiTV (a leading provider of streaming TV content to mobile devices), CBS Sports: College provides simple access to all the scores, stats, and information a college football or basketball fan may need. (The functionality appears to be almost identical for both football and basketball coverage, but since it's football season as of this writing, that will be the focus in this review.) CBS is the exclusive broadcast partner of men's football and basketball for the Southeastern Conference, and this allows the SEC Game Of The Week to be streamed within the app. But before we look at that feature, let's take a look at the rest of the app.
Immediately after launching CBS Sports: College, you can tell that it is a well-designed app. The layout is simple and clean. The main menu that you use to navigate through the multiple info panes appears on the top third of the screen, to allow for easy scrolling with your thumb. (This menu also shrinks down once an area has been selected to allow for more screen space--a nice touch.) This main menu has six areas to choose from: Scores, News, SEC Live, Polls, Standings, and Teams
The Teams, Standings, and Polls areas are straightforward, providing the information you need. You can select which Poll you would like to view, choose the standings from each individual conference, and dig into the details of each individual team (including schedules, full stats, and headlines).
The three areas that really show off what CBS Sports: College can do, however, are Scores, News, and SEC Live. The Scores area gives you a scoreboard of the Top 25 games for the week. You can click on any of the match-ups to navigate into the Game Center for that game where you'll see all the info on the game in progress--a scoreboard on the top of the screen, an overheard view of the field in the middle to track drives and downs, and key stats on the bottom. (Expanding the Game Center details to teams outside of the Top 25 is one feature that would be helpful, however.) You can also click into the Box Scores and Plays sections to view more detailed stats. All of this information is updated live while the games are in progress and remains available after the games finish throughout the season. Want to see what Florida's time Of possession was in the first half of the Gators' Week 2 game? It's only a few clicks away.
The News section really benefits from CBS' stature as a major media company. The app divides news into two areas--headlines on the top and Video On Demand on the bottom. Headlines are standard-style game recaps featuring one photo and a few paragraphs recounting the action. The Video On Demand section features five video highlight clips, each about two to five minutes long. The clips feature game highlights, post-game interviews and studio discussion from CBS Sports college football analysts.
The real standout feature of CBS Sports: College is the SEC Live section. Each week the "SEC On CBS" Game Of The Week is available for live streaming on the app. In addition to the weekly games, the SEC Championship game and traditional Army/Navy game will also be streamed live.
Beyond simply watching a live game, you can tap the screen and pull up an overlay of game stats, or a live scoreboard. You can scroll through these overlaid windows while the game continues to stream live. Once you've checked the score you're looking for, just tap again, and the window fades away--you never miss a second of the action.
All live and highlight videos require a Wi-Fi or 3G connection. I was impressed with the look and sound of the video when watching on both Wi-Fi and 3G. In fact, I saw little difference between the two. Almost every clip was fast loading, and had very little pixelation.
If CBS Sports: College didn't contain any of the exclusive CBS video content, it would still be a highly usable and helpful app for a college football fan. When you add in the video content--both the live games and the highlight clips--it becomes extremely valuable. (And remember, this app will feature basketball content later this fall.) If your favorite team happens to be an SEC contender, this app may even win a coveted slot on your home screen during the season.
[Macworld contributor Beau Colburn lives in Boston where he roots for the UConn Huskies.]
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