The build up is finally over and the Olympics are finally here. Usain Bolt and co are heading to London to compete in the world’s greatest sporting contest. But how can keep up to date with all the goings on on your phone or tablet? We take a look at the eseential apps you need for London 2012.
Follow the news
There are dozens of apps dedicated to the 2012 games.
Surprisingly the official app – London 2012 Join In – represents the best place to go for information on all the events that are taking place. Official apps are so often lazy or bland, or both, but Join In truly excels as a resource for not only following the Games and the side-events but also encouraging users to get involved.
With a companion Official London 2012 Results app also available you will have comprehensive coverage.
Faring not quite so well is London 2012: The Official Mobile Game, which is best described as rough and ready: we’d have preferred an athletics-themed version of Temple Run instead.
Of the rather mixed batch of unofficial, and unauthorised, offerings the plainly titled Olympic 2012 is packed with information but suffers from a cluttered UI, and Olympics 2012 Calendar & Medal is nicely designed and equally thorough but places ads in the phone’s notification pane, which is serious turn off for us.
Finally, you’ll need to check the Google Play Store for apps for your local squads – many team have them, including the US, Australian and Austrian teams, although in most cases you’d do better to bypass these and follow your favourite competitors on Twitter instead.
Watch the Olympics live
London 2012 will be the first truly mobile Olympics. For the first time you’ll be able to keep up with the action no matter where you are.
The main port of call for the UK-based Android user will be the newly revamped BBC Sport website at www.bbc.co.uk/sportmobile. This completely redesigned site will see the action streamed live as it happens, and accessible to your phone over both Wi-Fi and 3G. It is also available in app form.
As sponsors of the Olympics Samsung and Acer also have a nice surprise for their users. Owners of either the Galaxy S III (the official phone of the games) or the Iconia A510 tablet will get a free month of access to live streams from the Eurosport Player app that lasts throughout the duration of the Games.
Other countries will also have access to live streamed coverage from their local broadcasters, such as NBC in the US, via the NBC Olympics app.
As always you should remember that streaming video consumes a lot of data, so it’s best to use over Wi-Fi if you don’t have an all-you-can-eat data package. Streamed HD video will typical use up to 1.5GB of data per hour, while standard definition, depending on quality, can use up to 600MB per hour.
If you’re heading to the Games you will need apps to help you find your way around.
It’s unlikely you’ll find any last minute hotels, but if the Trip Advisor app is the place to go to find anything that is still available, and will help you locate good places to eat as well.
Of more practical use are the apps to help you navigate the increase in traffic in London throughout the Games’ duration.
Tube Map has live departure information that will keep you informed of any potential delays, London Bus Checker (£1.99) does the same for buses, and the fantastic crowd-sourced traffic app Waze will help you avoid jams on the roads.