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Bring Your Game

David Savona
From the Print Edition:
Havana—The Insider's Guide, November/December 2011

In tech’s dark ages, staying current with sports on the go meant spotty transistor-radio coverage. Today’s smartphones and tablets not only keep sports nuts abreast of scores and what’s new with their favorite teams, but can also show action on the fly.

Many are free, but upgrading for a few bucks typically gets you something better.

Yahoo Sportacular Pro ($1.99) is a fine app that provides scores, news, rankings and more of 23 sports: including Major League Baseball, pro and college football and basketball, hockey, golf (five tours), tennis, soccer (MLS and four European groupings) and even Nascar. Plus, with a simple—and discreet—shake, bettors can read the latest odds. The refresh time may seem sluggish for specific games, but all-around it’s hard to top.

Major League Baseball’s At Bat stands tallest among sport-specific apps. The pay version ($14.99, it gets cheaper later in the season) feeds games in real time via a computerized simulation with an intriguing ump’s-eye view of each pitch. You even get live audio broadcasts and instant in-game video highlights (blackout restrictions apply).

ESPN’s WatchESPN app (free) promises to bring live video to your tiny screen, with streaming feeds of ESPN broadcasts. It’s great, but limited according to your cable or Internet provider. Those who are Time Warner or Verizon FiOS subscribers are in luck.

Football fans know that NFL Sunday Ticket (via DirecTV) brings every NFL game to your television screen. Now there’s an app for that: NFL Sunday Ticket to Go ($9.99/month in addition to your DirecTV subscription).

Oddly, one of the snazziest apps comes from one of sport’s stodgiest institutions, Augusta National. The Masters app (free) is not only the best app for watching golf, but at times it surpasses broadcast. Want to check in two hours before CBS begins coverage? The app has live video from any of the three Amen Corner holes, where serious action occurs. You can also watch the Par 3 contest (which isn’t aired) the day before.

Apps aren’t just for spectators. Some get you in the game. Pitching Hand Pro ($1.99) diagrams finger positions for fastballs, curves and even knucklers—two bucks well spent if it turns your kid into a pro. The SwingReader Golf app ($2.99) analyzes videos of your golf swing to put you on plane to hack your way to glory, and iSolunar ($4.99) suggests ideal fishing times for any location, based on moon position.

And, finally, the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition app (free), shows videos and photographs of models in bikinis. Hey, the word “sports” is in the title, so that fits, right?

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