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Tech Savvy: Score big with these apps

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lifestyles Brainerd, 56401
Brainerd Dispatch
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Brainerd MN 506 James St. / PO Box 974 56401

It is safe to say I am a self-proclaimed sports fanatic. Anyone who has read my tweets, blogs or columns can see how apparent that is. I just can’t get enough and, lucky for me, I can go anywhere and some type of sporting team, league or event isn’t too hard to find. Of course this wouldn’t be a ‘Tech Savvy’ column if I couldn’t share with you all the tremendous ways that technology has changed the game for fans and players alike. Apps offer a plethora of options for those who, like me, can’t get enough sports action.

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Follow your favorite teams: It’s not much of a surprise that if you travel anywhere outside of the Midwest, odds are you won’t be able to catch the Minnesota Twins, Vikings, Wild or Timberwolves game and maybe not even a glimpse of their scores. Things get even stickier if a you’re not even within range of a radio station of TV to help aid in your sport seeking. That’s where ESPN Score Center app has become easily my most used app on my iPhone. One tap and you can check all the scores from any sport you please, including standings, news and video to boot. Taking it even one step further in fan-pleasing, the ESPN Score Center app lets you pick your favorite teams from college to pros and will pull specifically those teams scores and schedules as you so please. Turn on your alerts for teams you follow and the app will send a live score update as it happens, with details of who scored, time and any other relevant news from the game. ESPN of course offers plenty of other apps that include the ability to watch (with Watch ESPN) app and listen (ESPN Radio). Best of all, all three are free to download but Watch ESPN requires an active cable subscription to work.

If you gravitate more toward a specific professional sport league or team, the NFL, NHL, MLB and NBA all have apps, along with most professional sports teams, too. Team apps sometimes have cost associated with them, but include quite a bit of bang for your buck, some complete with ringtones and screen backgrounds.

Fantasy sports: I can still remember the days from when I was younger and my parents would gather their friends at our house to do their fantasy football picks on pieces of cardboard paper every Tuesday. My guy friends decided to make me the designated girl in their fantasy football, hockey and baseball leagues — I’ve won both the football and hockey leagues twice to the dismay of my friends who can’t stand losing to a girl — and as ideal as it would be to gather friends together each week, distance makes it a challenge. But online live drafts still gives you the banter with your friends and the apps make setting your lineup extra easy.

CBS, NFL, Yahoo! and ESPN have their designated fantasy sports apps, all free of cost and come highly recommended by my GM status, especially in the case of fantasy sports like baseball and hockey where checking your lineup everyday is key.

Through the apps you are able to drop and add players, check league standings, move players on your bench and see notes and news as they pertain to your league team. Some of the apps do make trades and message boards a bit more of a challenge. As in most cases, hopping online can at times be quicker, but if it’s simply moving Longoria to the bench after injury — I was pumped when I drafted him, but now just sigh at the 60-day DL — or Lincecum to the bench after poor play — killing my team even worse — the app makes it simple and a necessity for the avid fantasy player.

Improve and score your game: This summer it’s been my mission to work on my golf game (unsuccessfully) in the course-ridden Brainerd lakes area. I can’t even begin to breakdown all the apps out there that give tips on improving you’re golf game, each with its own unique options. V1 Golf ($4.99) app gives users access to 50 swings from PGA, LPGA and Champions Tour Players for golfers to watch and compare their swings to. You can store your own swing and see the improvement. A cheaper version that is comparable to the V1 is SwingReader Golf ($1.99) which, like V1, analyzes a players swing but also includes instructional video.

For the more avid golfer with experience that surpasses my own, the SkyDroid ($1.99) gives the distance to every green on the course of your choice as well as the option to cycle through to see distance to bunkers and water hazards.

If golf isn’t something you enjoy, baseball enthusiasts rejoice in the amount of options out to improve your game, too. Pitching Hand ($2.99) shows descriptions and pictures of some of the most common pitches for both righties and lefties. Staying on with pitchers, Baseball Speed ($0.99) is your own radar gun to clock your pitch and compares you with some of the Major League’s best.

Not looking to improve but manage your own game? ESPN IScore Baseball Scorekeeper ($9.99) helps keep score of any game. Whether it’s a pick up game with friends that you want to add a dose of competition by keeping score, or you were left in charge of your son’s Little League game. A little on the spendy side, this app really does do it all for those looking to save a tree and avoid the pen and paper route.

Again, these are just some of the hundreds of sport related apps out there for the sport nuts in your family. Download them and give them a try and play ball!

JESSI PIERCE, staff writer, may be reached at 855-5859 or jessi.pierce@brainerddispatch.com. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jessi_pierce (@jessi_pierce).

Going for the Gold— Olympics Coverage

By PHIL SEIBEL

Every two years the world is treated to a series that unites countries, captures our undivided attention and gives us a chance to feel national pride as our best athletes compete on the world stage. I find myself equally drawn to both the summer and winter Olympics, and to see the competitiveness, camaraderie and spirit that these games bring, I can’t help but get helplessly caught up all things medal related!

With the 2012 Summer Olympics started, we wanted to take a look at a couple of apps that will help you keep updated on all the latest medal standings, scores and information to keep you up to speed this summer.

After looking at some of the various apps out there, it became clear quickly that we shouldn’t waste time with various third-party apps and we should use the official London 2012 Olympic Games app. They also have two versions of the app, one is a Results app — medal counts, updates, etc — and for anyone fortunate enough to be attending, they have a Join In app — with maps, schedules, and highlights of things to see at the Olympic Village.

In the Results app, you are greeted with a summary dashboard that tells you what is going on at the moment, and two scrolling sidebars that give visual and text updates on some of the headlines from the competitions. They also have many awesome features that are built into the app: a calendar that lists the upcoming events, the ability to follow individual sports and athletes, and, of course, a medal count. You can also customize the My Games section to your country and follow all the updated Olympic news for your country.

In the Join In app, your experience is geared more towards actually being at the games and staying caught up. Within the app there are features that let you see what’s happening at the moment, a full schedule of events and it also does a great job of connecting with all the social media outlets being used. Another neat feature is the What’s On section that shows that other entertainment can be found nearby and when. So if your favorite team isn’t playing or you have some free time, you can still find something fun to do in the London Social Scene.

Both of these apps are available for free on Android and iOS, and look great on an iPad. Definitely consider using these to keep up with everything Olympics, and I plan on using the phone versions to check mainly for medal count updates.

Sports Illustrated also has a special magazine app for the iPad that looks really awesome too. True to SI’s reputation, it’s an eye-catching publication that’s really suited to an iPad. If you prefer more of a polished article feel to your updates, definitely check this out. No word on any pricing for this, but it looks like it may be a per issue fee.

Of course, you can always check out news sources, including the Dispatch at http://summergames.ap.org/brainerddispatch, for regular updates as well as great information and more in depth coverage, but if you want the play-by-play, down and dirty

updates, check out these apps.

PHIL SEIBEL, Digital Manager, may be reached at 855-5862 or phil.seibel@brainerddispatch.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pseibel(@pseibel).

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