I remember growing up watching the Olympics. My dad was a huge sports nut, and he would be glued to the TV during the games (to my mom's utter dismay). I couldn't blame him. There was so much spectacle to it, so much to sink your teeth into, it was virtually impossible to catch everything you wanted to see.
Luckily these days, there are resources to help Olympics fans get inside the action. In honor of the summer games kicking off today, here's a short list of applications and sites to help you carry the torch through to the closing ceremony (August 12).
London 2012 Join In (Android)
Are you actually in London during the games? Lucky you — you get to experience history in the making. Then again, with all that commotion, the discombobulation can make you wish you were far away, watching it on TV. What you need is some guidance, and the official visitor's guide app can help. The event organizers put this together to offer visitors a handy way to navigate all the activities in the Olympic Park, London and all around the U.K. See what's going on near you, share your location with contacts who are looking for you amid all the craziness, build your own custom Olympic events itinerary (complete with alerts) and get info about facilities with interactive maps. Or just use it keep tabs on related news, images and social updates, or share your own impressions via Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare integration.
QR Codes from ScanLife
Londoners and visitors will also note a slew of QR codes in and around the city. Much of that has to do with ScanLife, the official provider of QR codes at the games. So if you're running around and notice these codes on Olympics displays or advertisements, just scan them to get more info. Easy peasy.
ESPN Olympics Guide (online)
Even if you're not an insider on the ground in London, you can still come off like an Olympic-sized smartypants, thanks to the ESPN Olympics Guide site. All of the Olympic sports are explained here, with rules and visual demos showing how they work. There's also trivia, historical trivia and a roundup of the biggest names in each sport.
NBC has 3,500 hours of Olympics coverage on tap for TV, but if you're still hankering for more, the broadcaster's Olympics app might have what you seek. It features alternate camera angles, replays and simulcasting of the programming across all the NBCUni channels. Users can also follow particular sports and set notifications for start times. For iPad users, it also delivers the events in 1080p HD specifically for those Retina Displays. (Note: Viewing content is still subject to the same blackout rules imposed by your cable, satellite or telco TV subscription. Bummer.)
Sometimes, all you want are just the facts. And this free app's medals table makes it easy to see which medals (and how many) each country has won. The app also dishes out the time and date for every final event (even stuff like canoe slalom), and push notifications, to alert you every time your home country scores another medal.
Like the other "official" apps, this one offers real-time news, schedules and results, but it also lets you follow specific athletes or countries. You can search for athletes by sport and country and set your favorites, to get tailored content that includes bios, news items and coverage of their performance during the games. Bonus: You can also check out details about the sports they're playing and medal tables, so you can compare their status with others.
Facebook Olympics Page (online)
Fans can now connect via social networking with athletes, sports, a particular country's Olympic committee and even advertising sponsors.
London 2012 Calendar (Android)
Don't need all the bells and whistles? This straightforward app is exactly what the name says — a calendar. Look up events and times chronologically or by event, and check out recordholder information too.
Chrome Scheduler (Chrome Browser extension)
This browser extension gives Chrome users a way to organize the Games any way they want, so they can pick it up on their laptops or tablets. It's like making a playlist, except for Olympic sporting events. The itinerary can be based on athletes or events, and it sends alerts when it's time to watch. (To view an event, just click and it will take you to NBCOlympics.com.)
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