Must-have mobile apps for the Sochi Winter Olympics
Search “Sochi Olympics” in the App and Google Play stores and you’re going to find dozens of various Olympic-themed apps, some from reputable outlets and others merely trying to squeeze out a buck from the world’s most popular sporting event. The main NBC-branded Olympic apps will be your primary source for live event streaming and video highlights in the U.S., but here are a few other apps that will provide you with a wealth of extras like in-depth recaps, stunning photos, and on-the-ground updates to keep you in the know, even when you’re not on your couch at home.
NBC’s app suite
NBC will be broadcasting more than 1000 hours of live Olympic footage to NBCOlympics.com and its app NBC Sports Live Extra (free; iOS and Android). Just like NBC’s Olympics page, you can watch every event live straight through the app, and catch up on things you missed through highlights and event replays. It even has a handy calendar of events, so you can create your own viewing schedule and set reminders. To really take advantage of NBC Sports Live Extra, you need to verify that you have a cable or satellite TV subscription. Without one, you can still watch event replays, but you’ll be locked out of watching Shani Davis race for speed-skating gold in real time.
For less of a sports-spewing firehose, NBC Olympics Highlights and Results (free; iOS and Android) shows you what you really need to know: Event highlight clips and results. Cord-cutters will probably find this offering a bit more to their liking, as its content isn’t limited to cable subscribers, though the app has a second-screen guide that pairs with NBC’s TV coverage.
Olympic Athletes' Hub
Listen, there are a lot of athletes competing in the Olympics, and while I’m sure all of their tweets and Instagram pics are amusing, I don’t think I want them clogging up my personal feeds.
That’s why the Olympic Athletes' Hub (free; iOS and Android) is a handy resource: It pulls all of the Olympians' verified Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook accounts into one app. Pick your favorite athletes, teams, or sports to follow, and you’ll get up-to-date posts from their social media accounts.
With frequently updated articles written by theScore’s own staff, photo slideshows, videos, and integrated social media feeds, this app will provide you with tons of Olympics bites. Its designated pages for medal counts and podium ranks help you easily keep track of how Team USA (and the other teams, I guess) is doing. You can even curate your own feed by picking your favorite sports and events to follow, which then gets saved in a special tab.
2014 Team USA Road to Sochi
Produced by the United States Olympic Committee, the 2014 Team USA Road to Sochi app (free; iOS and Android) could’ve come off as some form of PR-minded hokum (just ignore the Smucker's branding), but its true value is that it can serve as an info-packed resource even after the Olympics commence.
With a continually updating set of bios and news updates, the USOC’s app features athlete Twitter updates, venue photo galleries, videos of events, and even a donation button to let users contribute to Team USA. This user-friendly design serves as a one-stop resource for anyone cheering the red, white, and blue.
Not so awesome apps
Apple featured a handful of Olympic-themed apps in the App Store as its recommended pics, yet I found two of the apps mentioned to be total duds. Users, beware.
The official Sochi 2014 Guide promises a calendar of events with news and info about all-things Sochi, but much like the city itself, the app isn’t quite ready for the masses. It is buggy, crashes frequently, and doesn’t have any event information you can’t find in other apps. However, it has a map of the Olympic Village and event ticket information, so maybe this app will be of use if you happen to be in Sochi. Maybe Sochi 2014 Guide works better on Android devices, seeing as Samsung is an official sponsor this year.
Another app is Medal Alert, a no-frills app with the sole purpose of sending you a notification when a medal is awarded for the events of your choosing. However, in order to set up notifications, you need to select which countries, teams, or events to follow, and the app hasn't been able to load the event schedule during any of my attempts. Tapping on any sport icon yields a message: "There are no scheduled events." (Really? Because I'm pretty sure there are scheduled Olympic events this week.) This would be a great app if it worked, but it doesn't on my iPhone 5s and my Samsung Galaxy Note II, and the user reviews on both platforms suggest I'm not alone.