The Olympics are over for another four years, but talk of what happened in London will no doubt continue for some time to come. Britain silenced the many doubters and overcame PR disasters including the security fiasco that struck mere days before the opening ceremony to achieve an incredible spectacle that will be remembered for, amongst other things, the brilliant performance of the host nation’s athletes.
The games have been dubbed ‘The Social Olympics’ after the amount of interaction that was prompted on social networks and via mobile devices by the events that took place. For our latest poll, Dialaphone asked readers which smartphone apps they were using to keep up with the Games, be it for finding out which events were on and when, or replaying Mo Farah’s double gold medal winning performances.
By our own admission, the poll didn’t elicit the same response previous Dialaphone surveys have. However, we have had some interesting results with no app taking a big lead and the poll resulting in a photo finish between gold, silver and bronze placings.
The BBC was the Olympics’ official UK broadcasting partner and the corporation’s app was always going to be an impressive creation, pushing the boundaries of what can be done with sport coverage. Live video streams coupled with replays, results and information on forthcoming events were all delivered to the palm of your hand, often offering broader range of information than television coverage has ever managed.
The sort of multimedia coverage previously offered online was squeezed into the BBC’s app and the portability offered by mobile devices gave it an extra edge of convenience. Whilst live video streams certainly eat up mobile data and can be costly, we’re certain there were plenty of people who used the app when sat at home connected to their own Wi-Fi network, as it quickly became apparent that the BBC’s Olympics app was one of the best ways in which to keep with what was happening at the Games.
Whilst the BBC handled the broadcasting of the Olympics, the organisers had their own app which also presented coverage of the Games. The Official London 2012 Results app offered an extensive statistics-laden user experience, offering thorough details about competitions and profiles of the athletes.
What could have just been reams and reams of data was presented in an easily digestible format and, while the official app didn’t have anything to match the live video streams offered by the BBC, it managed to get results out before many other online sources.
Taking joint first place was little-know, Curly’s Pocket Guide to Sports. While the app wasn’t strictly an Olympic-themed offering it is something that could have proved to be indispensible during the Games, being a constant reference point and often providing information lacking on any other mobile app (rules of competition for events being a pertinent example).
Rather than providing coverage, results and news about the Olympics, what Curly’s did, and still does, is provide a simple but detailed breakdown of the rules of (almost) any given sport. Apparently the idea for the app came about when an employee of its developers, digital agency Wilson Fletcher, overheard someone at last year’s Wimbledon asking how many times the ball is allowed to bounce.
While the rules of many Olympic events are simple and straightforward there are more obscure sports which have some very particular nuances unfamiliar to many. This is where Curly’s could be indispensable, and the app has clearly gained some favour amongst Dialaphone readers. Furthermore, since the app isn’t specific to the Olympics it could, and hopefully will, continue to be around for some time yet as eager smartphone users employ it during their watching of other sports.
Falling behind the top three was the BBC’s iPlayer app. Again, this isn’t specific to the Olympics but with the BBC’s extensive television coverage of the events the iPlayer really came into its own, whether in desktop of mobile form. The iPlayer’s easy-to-use format works well on a smartphone display and although mobile data eaten up by TV streaming could prove to be expensive, the service has a lot more to it than simply catching up with Eastenders.
Crossing the line in last place was the Reuters Olympics London 2012 app, a well-developed platform for sport coverage that seemed to be far less well known that its BBC equivalent. While not as heavy on statitsics and profiles the real beauty of the Reuters offering was the photography contained within it – some of the most iconic images of the games were presented there, in high quality, and hopefully some of them will continue to inspire for a long time to come.
So what can we learn from the results of the poll? Well, while the placings themselves may not be revelatory what is interesting is the way in which the London 2012 Olympics were brought to the public via mobile apps, something which existed when the games took place in Beijing in 2008 put came into their own this time round.
The BBC’s app set a new standard in what can be done with sports coverage on mobile, while Curly’s Pocket Guide to Sports introduced a cheerful service which made excellent use of the smartphone platform. The success enjoyed by the various Olympics apps covered here, as well as some other less well-known efforts will hopefully provide inspiration to developers and spur them on to produce further ingenious sports-based applications.