Welcome to the Mobile Olympics. Some of the official apps for phones and tablets are slicker and easier to use than their Web site counterparts. It's as though the app developers spent more time on them knowing that's where audiences are heading. Plus, apps can focus on doing fewer things well.
So if you have an iPhone, iPad or an Android device, check out these four free apps to follow the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Some of the apps are available for Windows Phone and BlackBerry phones as well.
Keep in mind that in the U.S., only the NBC Sports Live Extra app has any meaningful video of competition. But the others offer plenty for hardcore and casual fans alike.
NBC Sports Live Extra, from Comcast Corp.'s NBCUniversal.
This is the go-to place for live and full-event replays from the Olympics. NBC is showing every event live, a first for a U.S. broadcaster during the Winter Games. However, even though the app is free to download, you need a password from your cable or satellite TV provider to watch much of the video. It's not available for those who lack a pay TV subscription and receive their channels over the air.
I like the app's organization. Menus on the left organize video into three buckets: live and upcoming; highlights; and full-event replays. Click on any for all video arranged by date. You can limit video to a specific sport. It's a welcome contrast to the NBCOlympics.com Web site, which tries to tell you what you want to see rather than help you find video. If you need the guidance, the app's home page has a carousel of recommendations.
The Live Extra app also tells you what's showing on TV. The iPhone and iPad version alerts you when top athletes or events you mark as favorites are about to come up. Live Extra won't let you project the video onto a big-screen TV with an Apple TV or Chromecast device, but a version of the app is included with the X1 video set-top boxes available to some Comcast customers.
NBC Olympics Highlights and Results, from Comcast Corp.'s NBCUniversal.
The app offers video that doesn't require a pay TV subscription to view, but the selection is limited. It's more useful for the nuts and bolts on the games -- results, medal standings and capsules on individual athletes. Every country is included, though there's more available for Americans.
If you don't have access to live video, you can at least follow what's happening in Sochi through a live blog embedded in the app. You can also access photos and news stories. (continued...)
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