Want to interact with Winter Olympians? The IOC has an App for you


It seems hard to believe that in about three months the 2014 Winter Olympics held in Sochi, Russia will begin and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has developed and released an app that will enable fans to follow favorite athletes and sports.

The IOC’s app is called the Olympic Athletes’ Hub and it is much more than a one-dimensional portal into a static web site. The IOC has embraced a host of social media and acknowledged that many of the athletes have a major presence in social media.

The basic function of the Hub is pretty simple, it has created a searchable directory of the social media activities of Olympic athletes and brings them to users of mobile devices, a first for the Olympics. Included will be Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Possibly best of all for some fans is that the app makes the posting a two-way street with fans having the ability to post to the athletes social feeds across a wide swath of social media including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The IOC started down this path 2 years ago with the Summer Olympics that were held in London, allowing chats between fans and athletes, but it has taken that model and greatly expanded it to meet the growing, and changing usage of social media by athletes and fans.

The Hub provides fans with the tools to search for athletes by country, team, and sport as well as ones from previous Olympics that wish to sign up for the program. According to the IOC it already has 5,000 verified Olympians on board the program.

There is much more than just finding and following athletes. Former Olympians will post training tips that can be “Liked” which will earn virtual medals for these athletes such as Stephane Lambiel and Mark Spitz.

The Hub is just now being developed and the IOC said that it will add additional features to it as the games approach. It is also not just about social media. There will be a section that will direct fans to the websites of the IOC’s rights-holding broadcasters, where users can find their coverage of the Games.

You can download the Olympic Athletes’ Hub app at the Google Play Store or iTunes App Store. If you are bookmarking sites there is the IOC YouTube one, here is the Flickr site and here are Twitter and Facebook.

Just in case any athlete forgets their phone at home each will be provided with a Samsung Galaxy 3 with the app preinstalled. The IOC said that 27 million fans have already interacted with it via its social media.

Apple Breaks out the new iPhone, Times Two

To the surprise of only those who have no access to the Internet Apple’s event at its Cupertino, Calif. headquarters resulted in the first multiproduct offering in the popular iPhone family, with a lower cost model to tag along with the latest high end offering.

This was of course just part of the event as Apple never allows a major event to pass by without discussing the current state of the business and discussing a host of other products either here today or on the very close horizon.

One of the key areas is the next iteration of its operating system, iOS 7. It will have better search features, a more interactive calendar, more active reminders, iTunes Radio and approximately 200 new features in the OS that the company plans to launch September 18.

The first of the two new phones introduced is the iPhone 5C, which will be available in white, red, yellow, blue and green. The phone, Apple’s first low cost offering, is powered by an internally designed A6 processor and will start at $99 with 16GB of storage and a two year contract. It will jump to $199 with a 32GB. A case will be available for $29. It appears to be basically an iPhone 5 in a lower costing case.


The second offering is the iPhone 5S, available in gold, silver and space gray and it will be the first from the company with a 64-bit A7 processor. The new iOS 7 and all existing apps should be capable of running on the 64-bit processor. A key technology is the M7 processor (different from the A7) that is being called a motion coprocessor and uses the phones sensors such as its accelerometer and should enable a new generation of sports apps.

As expected it has a fingerprint sensor as an additional level of security, and can be used with either hand or which can unlock the phone and perform a few other functions. Other new features include an improved camera and new lens and a new home button.A 16GB version will be available, with a 2 year contract, for $199. Both phones will be available September 20th.

An interesting move by the company is that it will not be lowering the price of the existing offering, the iPhone 5, as it has always done in the past when it released a new model, but instead will simply replace it with the two new models. Apple said that next month it will ship its 700 millionth iOS device with over 380 million iPhones

What was not here
While Apple pleased some and undoubtedly disappointed others with its two new phones there was a phone that was not here that received a good deal of attention as well, and that is one with an even larger screen. Earlier in the year it had been rumored that the company would join the growing phablet space offering a device that is both a phone and a small form tablet, possibly with a 6-inch screen.

New iPad and iPad mini are expected later this year so that fans wanting new tablet updates to match their new phones will probably not have too long to wait.

Friday Grab Bag: ESPN’s Open Coverage, Dell Smartwatch?

The Guardian is reporting that Dell could be the latest to throw its hat into the ring with a smartwatch offering. Dell’s global vice president of personal computing told the paper that it was exploring ideas in the wearable computing space.

With Apple, Samsung, Google and just about every major player in consumer electronics and/or computing it is no surprise. The Kickstarter success story Pebble and its smartwatch has to be something that everybody is watching. The company was oversubscribed as it sought funding with $10 million pledged and an exclusive deal with Best Buy with a preorder of 85,000 watches.

ESPN to broadcast The Open Championship
If you are hoping to catch a few rounds of the 142nd Open Championship, golf’s oldest major, you are in luck as ESPN will be broadcasting all four days next week from July 18-21.

The network will be reaching out to fans not only via live television broadcasts and encore presentations but also live radio, and a range of digital offerings for computers, tablets and other mobile devices. It will also be using digital technology to enhance its broadcasts with technologies such as Flight Tracker.

[Editor’s note: You can also follow via The Open’s own app, online at The Open’s website and on social media like twitter. Go to The Open website for all info.]

Microsoft to slash Surface RT prices?
The Verge is reporting that Microsoft will be cutting the price of its entry level 32GB Surface RT tablet down to $350 with the version with the Touch Cover keyboard will be $450 as will the 64GB Surface RT without the cover and $550 with the cover.

The news comes as reports are also emerging that the company has an additional two more Surface tablets on the drawing board that it will release sometime in 2014. ZDNet reported that a recently seen Microsoft roadmap includes the tablets as well as a host of additional offerings from the company ranging from an Windows Office App Store to enhanced Skype support.

Apple Store hits 5th Anniversary
The Apple App Store, now no longer a pawn in a patent battle, also had other news this week as it celebrated its 5th year in business providing apps and tools, initially for the iPhone but now also includes apps for the iPad as well.

The success for the store can be seen in the fact that the number of apps it offers has grown from 500 at birth to approximately 900,000 now. There has been over 50 billion app downloads in the five years.

Google updates maps app
Most people I know use Google Maps on a regular basis and they will be happy to hear that not only has the company updated the program but made it faster as well, a common complaint. The company has made the Android updates available now with iPhone and iPad updates coming soon.

It has navigation features that include warnings for bad conditio0ns on a trip including accidents, offline map saving and better exploration features according to an early review in The New York Times.

Streaming Stanley Cup Playoff App a Big Hit for NBC Sports


For the first time the ability to watch all of the Stanley Cup playoff games live from a variety of mobile devices as well as computers has been warmly greeted by fans according to the early numbers released by NBC. Over 40 million minutes have been streamed through the first three rounds.

While in the past there has been some streaming, with 12 games shown last year, viewership is up 289% compared to last year and 1,198% from 2011, when the league showed only 8 games while this year so far there has been 76 streamed games, not counting the finals.

The games are available on NBC Sports Live Extra, a live streaming product from the NBC Sports Group that supports not only desktop and notebook computers but also mobile devices and tablets for the first time.

The first two years that the network streamed games it was only available on computers and still the numbers showed strong growth, going from 3,126,562 in 2011 to 10,427,216 in 2012 and leaping to 26,296,641 so far this year.

However this year is the first where users can also load the games on mobile devices, and they have accounted for more minutes than the first two PC years combined at 14,293,950. The games air on NBC, NBC Sports Network, and CNBC

So far the two most popular games have been the Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final double overtime win by the Boston Bruins over the Pittsburgh Penguins with 2.59 million minutes and the Game 5 of the Western Conference Final where the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Los Angeles Kings, 4-3, in double overtime to clinch their spot in the finals. 2.58 million minutes were streamed for that event.

For desktops, NBC Sports Live Extra can be accessed at NBCSports.com/liveextra. The NBC Sports Live Extra app for mobile devices and tablets is available at the App Store for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, and on select Android handset and tablet devices within Google Play.