App: ESPN ScoreCenter Platforms: iPhone, Adroid Web site: Scorecenter.ESPN.com Cost: Free
There are plenty of things to dislike about "the worldwide leader in sports." Like any media behemoth, ESPN tends to fixate on the most bland and yet controversial of stories (cough...Brett Favre...cough). It also features the most marquee teams and match-ups (cough...Yankees vs. Red Sox...cough). It is the unfortunate side effect of trying to win the ratings war.
But, there is no doubt that ESPN and its groundbreaking sports highlights show SportsCenter revolutionized sports. Whether you find the change to be positive or negative, it has altered the way we watch sports and its coverage.
The one thing no one should complain about, however, is their ScoreCenter app for iPhone and Android. And, with the Final Four and the Shell Houston Open coming this weekend, the Astros about to open their season and the Rockets, surprisingly, in a playoff chase (never mind the NFL draft and labor issues), sports fans will need it.
There are quite a few sports apps on the market, but none are as comprehensive and responsive as ScoreCenter. It goes well beyond simply reporting scores, despite its name. ScoreCenter allows users to choose their favorite sports and teams to easily stay up on every game and every player before, during and after games.
Let's say you're an Astros fan (God help you). Add MLB as a favorite sport and the Astros as a favorite team using the straightforward interface. When the app is open, swipe the screen to scroll through screens that include "myTeams," which will display latest results and a few days moving forward in the schedule, "The Lead," which displays major national news and scores and an exclusive MLB screen with the Astros at the top and all the other teams below.
Tap any of the individual game match-ups and see a basic overview box with the score, a few leader statistics and the national league standings. Tap the recap bar to read an overview of the game and view detailed stats as part of ESPN's Mobile Web site.
During games, ESPN's Mobile Gamecast functionality features real time tracking of every play, which is handy when you are stuck at a wedding or in a meeting during a big game. We, of course, would never do something like that and you should be ashamed of yourself for considering such a thing. Ahem.
To round out the features, there are plenty of alert options to send you push notifications of breaking news, final scores, scores by quarter/inning and notification of the game starting. These alerts are broken down by team, league and even individual games.
Essentially, if you are a sports fan, it's an app you really need on your phone. ESPN may be annoying for many reasons, but this app isn't one of them.