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Going for the gold: Apps with Olympic aspirations

July 19, 2012|By Michelle Maltais | This post has been updated. See note below.
  • The Olympic rings are displayed outside the basketball arena in the Olympic Park before the start of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Apps can help you enjoy the Games anywhere in the world.
The Olympic rings are displayed outside the basketball arena in the Olympic… (Jae Hong / Associated Press )

Our inner athletes are about to reconnect with an old flame -- the Olympic torch.

Yes, the Games of the 30th Olympiad open soon in London, and you can keep up with the action 24-7. Here are some mobile apps that are in medal contention. 

To start, there are the two official apps of the London 2012 Games -- London 2012: Join In and London 2012: Results. 

The "Join In" app for iPhone, Android and Windows phones lets you connect with everything that’s going on in and around the Olympics with maps, schedules and guides, from cash machine locations to ticketing issues to wheelchair access. You can also follow the torch as it winds its way to the Olympic stadium.

This one requires a data connection.

The "Results" app for iPhone, Android and Blackberry offers news, schedules, medal tables and athlete profiles across all Olympic and Paralympic sports. Users can also follow specific countries for customized updates.

NBC, the exclusive broadcaster of the Games in the U.S., also recently released a couple of free apps for Apple and some Android phones and tablets.

One app will stream every second of sweat and skill, and you can access it if you are a pay-TV subscriber with a package that includes CNBC and MSNBC. The other will offer highlights — no pay-TV subscription required.

If you plan to watch a lot of streaming video, keep an eye out on your cellphone data usage --  particularly if there’s a cap. Fees can get pretty hefty for some wireless carriers.

Typically, the coverage can come from starry-eyed Americans of all stripes. If you would rather your Olympics come minus the red, white and blues -- or America's idol Ryan Seacrest -- the BBC Olympics app for iOS and Android will give you headlines about your national team based on your location as well as video features, schedules and details about every sport, country and competitor.

[Updated, 9:29 a.m. July 19: Some national teams have individual apps, such as Team USA (iOS and Android), Team Ireland, Team SloveniaTeam Austria, Team Netherlands and Team Korea. Though my family’s homeland doesn't seem to have an app, Jamaica has a Facebook and Twitter presence, as do many of the teams.]

This year more than before, social media will be well woven into the experience of the Games, from the coverage and the people covering it to the viewers and the athletes -- something Twitter Chief Executive Dick Costolo called an "inside-out view."

While Twitter won't go into detail on how it plans to highlight Olympics-related tweets, it is expecting huge traffic. In fact, there were more tweets about the Olympics on a single day last week than during the entire 2008 Beijing Summer Games, a spokesperson told The Times. 

Facebook will also be lighting up with activity. In addition to millions of users posting and cheering on their teams, NBCOlympics.com can connect to users' Facebook Timelines to show off what they're reading, watching or voting on.

And NBC's coverage will integrate discussions and data from a "Talk Meter." So even if you don't have a Facebook account but watch TV, you'll be part of the conversation as NBC turns Olympic chatter online into on-the-air stories.

If you are fortunate enough to be heading across the pond, you can get some Lonely Planet e-books and its audio walking tour of London free for a limited time in honor of the Games.

Check out kids' book "London -- Not for Parents" for iPad free until Aug. 17 in the iBookstore and the always-free "Recession Busting Britain" on Kindle, Nook, Google Books and in the iBookstore. The walking tour download within the Lonely Planet Travel Guide app is free until July 30. 

With all the screen and second screen time spent watching and discussing the Olympics, it's not likely that your inner athlete will get much of a workout. But your thumbs will be in champion form from the intensive channel and web-surfing.

ALSO:

NBC launches Olympics apps; one will stream every single event

Facebook, NBC reportedly going into partnership during Olympics

Facebook launches Explore London 2012 to connect fans, athletes

Follow Michelle Maltais on Google+Facebook or Twitter

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