While the Olympics can be an all-consuming obsession, there are things that will get us away from the Games.
Like free tickets to an Angels’ game.
But thanks to the proliferation of mobile devices, the Olympic Games in London are no farther than the palm of your hand.
So, while watching the Angels lose in a boring 2-0 game against the Tampa Bay Rays, I was checking out some of the apps out there that allow you to keep track of the Olympics.
First off, let’s get the legalese of it all out of the way: I’m using a Motorola Droid 2 with Android version 2.3.4 on the Verizon network. Obviously, usage will vary depending on phone and network.
My first stop was to go with the NBC Olympics app. It comes with the basics: news, results, TV and online listings and links to just about any piece of info you would want. It also has highlight videos available and a “Primetime Viewing Companion,” which gives you extra photos and factoids from whatever happens to be showing during the taped portion of your viewing experience. Plus, there are plenty of ads (Chevrolet sponsors the primetime portion of the app).
It’s a simple, easy-to-use app. I haven’t had too many problems with it loading or crashing. It can be a little slow, but nothing out of the ordinary. It also pushes notifications to let you know when marquee events are available for live viewing.
Of course, to watch anything live, that will require a second NBC app, the NBC Olympics Live Extra.
(Both apps are free, by the way.)
With the app, you can watch just about any sport as its happening. It’s live, all right, but you probably won’t be watching much. Needless to say, trying to crunch a live, clear picture takes time, so mostly you’re watching pixilated blurs with sound (see the pictures above). As one media critic tweeted, the app gives you the “real experience of watching a swimming race with water in your goggles.”
My feed of the U.S. women’s field hockey game did finally clear up – for about 10 seconds before buffering again and going back to blur city.
If you want to get away from NBC’s universe, I checked out Yahoo Sports’ Beyond Gold app (also free).
Here, you won’t be getting videos, just the latest news and mobile friendly links to stories coming from their experts and bloggers. I was able to sit down to read a story about Cal Poly Pomona graduate Kim Rhode, who talked about the lengths she went to train for her American record setting fifth individual medal in five consecutive Olympics.
Problems here is that it can be sluggish at times, and very slow to load.
SOME RESULTS: We found out about Rhode’s gold during a live spot before leaving for Anaheim. It was an early bright spot in the day. And then finding out she hit 99 of her 100 shots, that made it all the better.
• Seeing that Spain lost again in men’s soccer is a bit of a shocker, especially since it means they’ll be going home after their next game. The Spanish side has been on quite a run in international play, but I don’t know that they’ll lose sleep over it – this is only the under-23 team, after all.
• The fall of the American gymnast Jordyn Wieber dominated most of the news cycle online (overshadowing the US men’s basketball team win). She ended up be a victim of the rules as much as her own doing (each country can send two athletes to the all-around finals, and she was third amongst her team – despite being fourth overall). Expect NBC to make lots and lots of hay with this story the rest of the week.
RANTS AND RAVES: Man, I hope NBC brought Ryan Seacrest over to London to do more than read tweets.
Watching some of the primetime coverage, and there he is in studio with Bob Costas and Meredith Viera, and he’s talking about the social media reaction to the opening ceremonies. OK, NBC, we get it. He’s young, in touch with the youth and he understands it. Say what you will about Costas – and I love him – but Bob Costas is most certainly not hip.
But Ryan: Joe Jonas? Really? I’m not up on the current state of pop music, but I’m pretty darn sure that Joe and his brothers haven’t been relevant in at least three years (that’s the last time I remember seeing them while watching Disney Channel with my son).
NBC, I appreciate you trying to appeal to the younger viewers, but reading tweets and polling social networking sites? Try harder.
• On the rave side, gotta say the coverage of the so-called “fringe” sports has been solid. Plenty of experts to go along with NBC’s stable of recognizable voices. Watching some water polo before bed, and was surprised/happy to hear NHL announcer Mike “Doc” Emrick doing play-by-play. Though, it did make me yearn for hockey season to start.
UPCOMING: The women return to the basketball court, featuring Chino's Diana Taurasi (a Don Lugo High graduate). The U.S. women could use a stronger showing after struggling (but winning) in their opener against Croatia. In primetime, you'll have more Michael Phelps-Ryan Lochte drama in the pool, and the men's team gymnastics final will be shown.