It's what we've all been waiting for: the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games begin next week! We've rounded up the five best free mobile apps for keeping up to date with the sporting action on your Android smartphone or tablet, iPad or iPhone. Also see: Best Android Apps and Best iPhone/iPad Apps.
The London 2012 Official Results App is the official app for the London 2012 Olympic Games. It puts all the Olympic news, schedules and results in a single place, easily accessible from your iPhone, iPad, or Android smartphone or tablet. You can set reminders for the events you most want to watch, and add to a Favourites menu the sports in which you're most interested. The London 2012 Official Results App offers detailed information on all 36 sports and the individual athletes involved, including game rules, photos, videos, news and real-time social commentary. Best of all, it's free to download and use.
A companion app to the London 2012 Official Results App, the London 2012 Official Join In App is the ideal pocket guide for all those who plan to get involved in the games, either by visiting one of the Olympic venues or enjoying one of the many events planned across the UK. There's a lot going on this summer, and the Join In App covers exhibitions, concerts and participatory sporting events, plus the games themselves. You can browse maps of the Olympic venues, and access travel and accessibility guides. There's also a social aspect to the app, with the ability to check in at events and upload photos of yourself. The London 2012 Official Join In App is free for Android smartphones and tablets, and iPhone and iPad.
As part of its pledge to broadcast 5,000 hours of London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games coverage, and utilise all its digital channels, the BBC has launched its free BBC Olympics Android and iPhone apps. The app is available only for smartphones, much of its functionality is similar to that of the London 2012 Official Results app, and its content is borrowed from the Beeb's Olympics mobile site, but there are still a few good reasons to download this app - not least the ability to download stories for offline viewing and control your mobile data usage. BBC Olympics offers schedules of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic events, video content courtesy of the BBC's own iPlayer catch-up TV service, and all the latest news. Much of the functionality we're most looking forward to won't be available until the games begin on 25 July, including a Live tab that promises 2,500 hours of coverage, up to 24 streams of video and daily live text commentaries, so you "never miss a moment of the Olympic games on the BBC".
TVCatchup lets you watch free-to-air UK television on your computer, phone or games console. TVCatchup for iPad also brings the online streaming TV service to Apple's popular tablet, letting you watch the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games sporting action live on the iPad's glorious 9.7in in-plane switching display. The service offers around 40 TV channels, although as home broadcaster of the games we're interested in only the BBC channels here. A fairly basic EPG shows the programme currently being broadcast and what's on next. A short advert precedes playback - a fair trade for this free service. Note that although the TVCatchup for iPad app is free, you may have to watch your data usage on a 3G connection. You will also need a valid TV licence. We've prepared a handy guide to how you can catch live sporting action on an iPad here.
This is the second entry for the BBC in our top five - but appropriately so, given that it's been tasked with broadcasting the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games coverage in the UK. Chances are your smartphone or tablet came with this great free app preinstalled; otherwise, you can download it from Google Play or the iTunes Store now. iPlayer is the Beeb's catch-up TV service, enabling you to stream BBC programmes up to seven days following their initial broadcast. As with TVCatchup for iPad, you'll need a valid TV licence and to carefully watch your data usage on a 3G connection. We've prepared a handy guide to how you can catch all the sporting action on-demand here.
If you happen to be attending the London Olympics, this could be a really useful app to help you get around without breaking the bank. Wheely is a free app and a minicab service that lets you get a fixed quote up front for journeys throughout London.