At first glance, after six generations of iPhones, the general sports app landscape doesn’t have much left to reveal. There are dozens of apps that function in basically the same way, offering up some combination of fantasy news, the latest scores and social media components. But that thinking obscures the idea that some of the best sports apps of 2012 operated on the outskirts of athletics. An app can’t just offer up news and scores and catch our eye. In 2012, a sports app had to stream video or offer features that we hadn’t even considered ourselves. Having said that, here are our picks for the best sports apps of 2012.
NBA Game Time 2012-13 (Free)
While NBA Game Time didn’t technically debut in 2012, the pro hoops app definitely hit its stride. It added coverage of the NBA Summer League to its already stream-heavy feature set, and proved that the NBA is as much of a 12-month sport as any other. Its mix of video highlights, home and away audio feeds, and streaming video (as long as you already subscribed to NBA League Pass) made Game Time an essential app in 2012, putting it on par with the excellent MLB.com At Bat app.
Coach’s Eye ($1.99)
While I’m not a golfer, I thought last year’s Tiger Woods: My Swing was a brilliant idea for an app. It essentially allowed users to record video of their golf swings and match them up to Tiger’s own swing. Coach’s Eye offers similar micro-editing techniques, but employs them over a wider net so players in numerous sports can really look at their own technique. The main difference between is that there’s no professional expert to model yourself after in each sport that Coach’s Eye helps you analyze. Still, things like swing plane and adding virtual lines to look at posture are retained, and it’s a promising step in the right direction for the future of video analysis of athletes.
As WatchESPN added more and more cable system support in 2012, it became one of the year’s most integral apps for big fans of the network. With a streaming selection that includes NBA, MLB, The Masters, NCAA football and basketball and more, WatchESPN was ideal when you couldn’t get in front of a TV to watch a big game. When you add the live game footage to ESPN hallmarks like “SportsCenter”; “Pardon the Interruption”; “Mike & Mike”; and “SportsNation” updates, WatchESPN really packed a streaming video punch this year.
MLB PrePlay (Free)
Whether attending a game in person or watching on TV, most fans have at one time or another played little guessing games with friends, even if they’re as innocuous as saying, “I bet he strikes out here.” MLB PrePlay turns that trivial pastime into a legitimate “game” of sorts, having players predict the outcomes of individual at-bats throughout every game of the season. Users are ranked and can even earn trophies for completing various tasks, like correctly predicting an entire inning’s worth of outcomes. PrePlay created a whole new way to watch baseball game, and we hope the app adds more features for next season..
Football Pickem (Free)
Football fans have been making football picks for years now, but Football Pickem finally presented an opportunity to make picks in a global community on the iPhone. Users can create specific pools for their friends or compete weekly against specific individuals to see who had the best picks. Football Pickem also tracks trophies, leaderboards and numerous stats for each pick. It isn’t revolutionary, but having the opportunity to make picks on an iPhone when you previously had to go to separate website is great for football fanatics.