London Summer Olympics Smartphone Apps

August 3, 2012

in 2012 London Olympics, App Reviews

  • SumoMe

London Olympics LogoLast week in “A Virtual Visit to The London Olympics” we took a detailed look at two smartphone apps for those following the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London:  “NBC Olympics” and “NBC Live Extra.”

Today, we take a gander at three apps from the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Limited.  I tried out the iPhone versions (also works on iPod Touch and iPad), but some are available for Android and Blackberry phones, and one runs on Windows smartphones.

Official Results App

Who Won, Who Lost?

If all you care about is who won and who lost, and don’t want to Olympics Official Results 1watch live video or film highlights, the freeLondon 2012: Official Results app will do you just fine.

When you launch the app you are given two immediate choices near the top of the screen: “Live” or “Calendar.”

Live” shows you the score for each contest that’s on-going. I picked the Men’s Tennis Double Quarterfinals and found that a U.S. team was leading their Israeli counterparts in overall games, and also in aces made on serve, 6 to 3.

“Live” also gave me the results in the Women’s Individual All-Around Gymnastics-Artistic competition, what was happening in the Men’s Badminton Singles, Men’s Team Pursuit Cycling, and other events.

What’s Happened, What’s Coming Up?

“Calendar” let me check the schedule for both past and upcoming events. The final results were posted for those that had concluded.  You can also set reminders for upcoming events.

A row of icons at the bottom of the screen gave me additional options besides checking the “Schedule.”

Sport-By-Sport

Olympics Official Results 2If I clicked on “Sports” I could get a list of events, news stories, photos, and other information, including video clips.

“Hardware” Count

“Medals” gives you the total medal count, and the breakdown between Gold, Silver and Bronze for each country, arranged in total medal count order. When I checked on Thursday morning, PDT, China still led the U.S., 32 medals to 31.  Clicking on a country’s name shows the medals won in each sport.

Who’s Who?

“Athletes” lets you find the competitors by sport or country, or just check out those who are “Featured.”

Sharing The Wealth

There is a wealth of information in the “London 2012: Official Results” app. And some, but not all of it, can be shared via Facebook, Twitter and e-mail.

For example, I was able to share the final results of the Men’s Road Race, although the link that the app sent to me via e-mail didn’t work. But I wasn’t allowed to share charts listing medals awarded, either to all countries, or to a single country.

Get Ready, Get Set, Go!

“My Games” is the settings function that lets you change the Time Zone from the default of London time to your local time.

You can also change the “Preferred County” that you want to follow from the default (Great Britain) to your favorite (USA, in my case).

From “My Games” you can also read news stories, add athletes and events to a “Favourites” list, check on reminders that you’ve set for events, and access the “London 2012 Shop” to buy clothing, collectibles, and other merchandise.

Join In App

If the Official Results app didn’t satisfy your appetite for 2012 Summer Olympics information, Olympics Join In 1you can download the free “London 2012: Official Join In App for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

An advisory note in the iTunes description for this app says: “There is lots of data in this app, and we update it regularly! Please be patient while it downloads.” Sometimes the app appeared to load updated information fairly quickly over Wi-Fi in my home, but at other times the download was painfully slow.

“What’s On” gives you the schedule for each day of the games. You can browse Olympic events by date, see all the events, or filter the results by “Sport,” “See & do” (which includes non-Olympic activities, as well as venues like Hyde Park where you can watch the Games on big-screen TVs) or “Torch” (which seemed limited to the opening day).

Olympics Join In 2“Places” provides maps of not just Olympic venues, but various areas of London. Each location on a map has a summary description, a weather forecast and, if your were “on the ground” in London, directions for getting there.

For some reason, the app’s map of the Olympic Stadium failed to show the same detail as the screenshot that appears along with the app’s description in iTunes. Perhaps that’s because I was using the app at home in California, not inside of the stadium in London.

“Buzz” links to the “Official London 2012 News” and the “Visit London 2012” sites, London on YouTube and Twitter and Facebook, and a photo gallery.

Tap on “Guide” for a “Spectator Guide” provides details about Olympic Park and other venues, “Food and Drink,” and guides to both Olympic and Paralympic sports.

But the “Food and Drink” section didn’t actually tell me where I could slake my thirst or grab a meal at the Olympic venues; it merely took me to the VisitLondon.com Website where, with some patient browsing, I could find eateries—at least ones with TripAdvisor or Yelp listings, book a table online and get directions (if I knew the Underground station or stop, post code, street address, or nearby “Place of Interest”).

I found the VisitLondon.com Website loaded slowly over Wi-Fi at my home in California, so I’m not sure how it would have performed in London over Wi-Fi or more importantly, a cellular data network.

Olympics Join In 3“Ceremonies” told me about the opening and closing of the Olympics and Paralympics,, teams and performers in those ceremonies, victory and team ceremonies, the Olympic Cauldron.

“Road Events” lists the Olympic and Paralympic events that you might be able to see without a ticket (except for entry to the start and finish line areas). A travel planning function would help you figure out how to reach the venue via the Underground.  You can view photos or videos related to the event and share your own photos via Twitter.  News stories related to each event are included as well.

“Tickets” explains how to buy tickets, although there is no in-app ticket purchase option.

“Safety and security” tells you what you can’t bring into Olympic venues, and what to expect at security checkpoints. There are also general tips for contacting police and ambulance services, and safeguarding your person and valuables while visiting London.

“Join In” lists a variety of events taking place in London and across the U.K. during the Olympic Games.

“My Games” in the “Join In” app is much more limited than in the “Official Results” app. It simply gives you a list of “Favourites” that you’ve previously marked in the “What’s On,” “Places,” or “Torchbearers” sections of the app.

Official Mobile Game App

Olympic Mobile Game App logoEven if you aren’t a member of Team USA or any other Olympic squad, you can use the “London 2012: Official Mobile Game” app to train athletes and compete in these nine Olympic events: 100m dash, 110m Hurdles, 100m Freestyle, Double Trap, Triple Jump, Pole Vault, 100m Butterfly, Kayak (K1) and Archery.

There is a free version (which has several in-app purchase options ranging from $0.99 to $9.99) and a “Premium” version ($.99 from the iTunes App Store) which “provides additional 3,000 stars, 5 max. stamina points, and EXP UPx2 (worth $5.50).”

Disqualified From Competition

Unfortunately, you have to own an Phone 4, iPhone 4S,or  iPad 2 to download and use this app. That requirement left me stuck in the starting blocks with my aging iPhone 3GS, so I had to beg my wife to let my borrow her shiny-new 4S so I could get and review the “Mobile Game” app.

Character Creation

Olympic Mobile Games 1You begin using the app by creating a male or female “Character” picking a face, hair, country, and “stats” (Strength, Balance, Agility, Accuracy, Flexibility, and Mentality). Then you give your “Character” a name.

Having set myself up as “Riccardo.” my first event was the pole vault. I wanted to do a little pre-event training, but a padlock icon suggested that option wasn’t available to me without “unlocking it” by paying 600 credits (0r “Stars”), so I “ponied” them up.

I found myself listed fifth against four other USA athletes (numbered 1-4). I was given instructions how to run and plant the pole, and then release it as I passed over the bar.  (If you forget what to do, hit “Help” and those instructions will pop up again).

“Riccardo” started warming up for the first of three attempts at the pole vault by waving at the audience after bending his head back and forth to loosen it up. He looked pretty cool, but soon would look the fool.

Foul!

Not being an experienced “two-thumb” gamer, I ended up repeatedly fouling on my pole vault attempts, mainly on the “Plant” where I didn’t get the pole into the ground so I could be launched skyward. The only time I got up in the air, I hit the bar and was disqualified yet again. I finally gave up, my avatar “Riccardo” pumping his fist in anger.

Runaway Success

Olympics Mobile Games 2In the 100m race I did much better. In training I easily outran the competition, finishing first even though I tripped and had to do a quick somersault to get back on my feet before crossing the finish line ahead of the pack.

Games Over

Feeling fatigued from my intense training sessions, I decided to check out the other functions in the “Official Mobile Game” app. I never tried “Olympics” or “Challenge” modes since my “Training” was a fiasco.

“Locker” showed my my record in the 100m dash, what items of clothing, shoes and equipment I had used in each event, and the Level at which I’d competed.

I clicked on “Trophy” but never figured out what that function was meant to do, probably because I never actually one a trophy, just a practice round.

“Option” lets you turn “Sound,” “Vibration,” “Guide UI,” and “Tilt” on or off, and select one of eight languages to use. (Maybe I would have done better in the pole vault if I’d picked Chinese, which I studied over 40 years ago).

“Help” gives information about the app.

“Social” lets you sign in with Facebook or Twitter, add friends and edit your profile. Given my embarrassing performance, I skipped doing so.

Pay to Play

You can make in-app purchase for “Stars” and “Stamina.” Apparently you need one or  both to stay in competition. The free version of the app gives you 2,000 “Stars” (worth $1.99), and I used up 1,440 during my unimpressive training sessions.

Rio Olympics 2016 LogoI hate to think what our Visa bill would look like if I had continued to tried to bring home the Gold in any or all of the nine Olympic events in which you can “participate” using the Official Mobile Game app. The app’s graphics are amazing, and likely to lure you into playing endlessly. So if you are a sucker for iPhone gaming, be prepared to shell out a lot of bucks trying to avoid snatching defeat from the jaws of Olympic victory.

Wait Until Next Time!

Just wait until the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio! That’s when, after four years of intense practice, I’ll be ready to go head-to-head and toe-to-toe with anyone using the next iteration of the “Official Mobile Game” app.

Atop the Podium

Here’s how the three “London 2012” apps finished in the voting in my review:

  1. Gold MedalLondon 2012: Official Results — Beats the other two for ease of use.
  2. Silver MedalLondon 2012: Official Join In” — Lots of info but a bit slow.
  3. Bronze MedalLondon 2012: Official Mobile Game” — Fun, but frustrating.

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(Click here to see all of our stories related to the 2012 London Olympic games).)

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