As the London Olympics draw near, the battle for audience attention is shaping up to be waged not on television but on the tiny screens of smartphones and tablets. Yesterday NBC announced its partnership with Adobe to roll out Olympics streaming apps for the Android and iOS platforms in the U.S. Today, the BBC has announced its own Olympics app for the two mobile platforms as well as BlackBerry devices.
The main function of the app will allow users to receive up to 24 live streams of Olympics coverage over Wi-Fi and 3G signals. Also included will be editorial text from BBC news commentators, dedicated pages for every athlete, country, and sport, schedule information, and a medals chart to allow users to keep track of the winners.
“We needed to ensure everyone could access our coverage,” BBC News general manager Phil Fearnley said in a statement. “The BBC Sport Olympics app ensures that everything you need to keep up-to-date with the action is right there at your fingertips. Even when you’re out of range of 3G or wireless, we’ll still be able to deliver the latest news to you offline.”
The “out of range” component Fearnley mentions refers to the app’s automatic downloading of content for consumption when a user’s device isn’t connected to the Internet, a feature that can be disabled in order to save battery life or cut down on data charges. The iOS version of the app allows a user to customize the app to focus on one particular Olympic sport. Finally, there’s also a social media component of the app that lets a user email or share stories directly from the app.
So far the app, which is a free download, has received high marks in Google Play, with some users saying the app is better than even the official London Olympics app.
iPad/Android: Want to eke out a little more value out of that tablet? Turn it into a second monitor for your PC or Mac and extend your screen real estate. This is especially handy for laptop users.
Several apps are available to extend your desktop onto your tablet. How-To Geek offers a tutorial on setting up Air Display, which is $9.99 for the iPad app in the App Store, but most of the apps seem to work similarly: Install the server software on your Windows or Mac computer, then run the app on your tablet.
How-To Geek notes some added functionality in Air Display, including the ability to mirror your desktop rather than extend it—useful for when you want to show someone what you’re doing on your computer for teaching purposes, for example. Two other neat tips are using the iPad as a form filler (drag the form to the iPad, hand it to a client and have them fill it out with the onscreen keyboard) and using the iPad’s touch capabilities:
You could, for example, drag a Photoshop window onto the extended iPad desktop and then use a stylus to draw on it or place the calculator app on the iPad screen and use your finger instead of the mouse to punch the keys.
A similar, less expensive app for both iPad and Android is iDisplay. It’s $4.99 at the App Store as well as on Android Market. iDisplay works with both Mac and Windows and got fair reviews for the iOS version.
Because of some reviewers citing lag issues with iDisplay on Android (iOS users seem to like it well enough), Android users might want to look at newer and much less expensive ($0.99 for a limited time; normally $1.99) ScreenSlider. The downside is it only works with Windows PCs.
Whichever app you try, using your iPad or Android tablet to extend your screen might boost your productivity. Or, of course, you could use the tablet on its own as a productivity-boosting tool.