It’s here! Today sees the World Cup kick off in South Africa, after the now-traditional build-up of media hype, complaints from goalkeepers about the official ball, and crushing realisations that half the England team are carrying injuries. We’ll have to wait for tomorrow for the big England-USA clash, but the joy of the World Cup is following as many games as possible that don’t involve your own country.
Thankfully, the rise of smartphones and apps makes that easier to do this time round. There’s been a blizzard of football apps hitting the various stores in the last week or two, from scores’n’stats services through to games and novelty applications. Here’s our pick of ten of the best that are worth space on your smartphone.
South Africa Live (iPhone)
The most comprehensive information app for iPhone at this World Cup, South Africa Live is developed by Bright AI, and makes heavy use of Opta stats. So, you get fixtures, results, stats, news, match commentary and other data, with push notifications to keep you in the know, and news pulled in from Twitter, Facebook and other sources. There’s even a chat forum, photo gallery and streaming videos to watch. Excellent.
Footy Pubs 2010 (Nokia)
This spin-off from website DrinksIn.com does one thing, and one thing only: it lets you find your way to the nearest pub that’s showing the football. You choose the match you want to watch, and then find a watering hole to watch it in – with directions ensuring you can find your way there (and stagger home afterwards).
Manage Your Football Club International (iPhone)
MYFC is a football management game that’s been taking on Championship Manager and Football Manager Handheld on the App Store for a while. Its latest version focuses on the international side of things, letting you manage one of 100 countries around the world, and take them to the World Cup. Statistical depth and an interface made for iPhone means it’s an addictive way to see if you can out-Capello Capello. So to speak.
South Africa for BlackBerry (BlackBerry)
The latest RIM ‘Super App’ focuses on the World Cup, offering scores, news and videos. However, its big selling point is the way it ties into the BlackBerry OS, pinging push notifications to your inbox for goals, half-time and full-time scores and sending offs. You can add any match from the tournament to your calendar to ensure you don’t miss it, while sharing features via Facebook and Twitter are also included.
Vuvuzela World Cup (iPhone)
Buzz! Buzz! BUZZBUZZBUZZBUZZ! If you’re not familiar with Vuvuzela horns now, rest assured you will be by the end of this tournament. In fact, you may be hearing imaginary ones for a few months afterwards too. This novelty app sees you blowing into your iPhone’s mic to play a Vuvuzela, in the colours of your country. There’s even a two-player mode where you compete with a friend to see who can blow for as long as possible. Warning: you may not have many friends left if you overuse this app.
AP 2010 World Cup Coverage (Nokia)
Nokia owners wanting to keep tabs on all things South Africa related should grab the Associated Press’ polished World Cup app, which offers a mixture of scores, tables and fixtures, as well as profiles of the key players, photos and videos, and a polling feature to let you vote for your favourite stars. Okay, you’re not getting the push notification features seen on rival iPhone and BlackBerry apps, but it still does the job well.
ITV1 2010 FIFA World Cup (iPhone)
If you want to watch the goals from this month’s World Cup, rather than just read about them, then ITV1’s official app is the one to go for. Not least because it’s free. The app will offer video highlights of every match on a streaming basis, and you can watch live matches when they’re being screened on the parent channel too. There’s also a TV guide, fixture list and a day-by-day planner for the tournament.
Goal Mobile (BlackBerry)
Handmark’s Goal Mobile has just been updated to version 3.0 in time for the tournament, and draws on a network of 550 reporters spread across the globe. Good if you don’t just want to get jingoistic England angles from the local press. It offers up-to-date news from South Africa, scores and player ratings, and fixtures. Which sounds basic, but the thing we like about the app is that it just works really well – you can dive in, get the latest and then go back to whatever else you were doing.
FIFA World Cup (iPhone)
EA has released the official iPhone game for this World Cup – it’s also available on other smartphones – and it’s great fun. You can start from qualifying with one of 105 international teams, and it’s got a nifty control system designed to minimise confusion when you’re tapping your way through the opposition. The official licences mean real players and stadia, while the individualistic Captain Your Country mode lets you play as just one player.
Sun Football – World Cup Edition (iPhone)
We might love apps, but we’re certainly not writing off ‘old media’ when it comes to comprehensive World Cup coverage. The Sun has its team of reporters and analysts out in South Africa, and this time round they’ll be feeding into the newspaper’s official iPhone app too. There’s the expected news and match coverage, along with stats and video clips. However, a big selling point is its integration with The Sun’s World Cup Dream Team fantasy league, letting you control your squad from your iPhone.
But don’t forget…
Your phone is good for more than apps. Fire up your browser during the tournament and check out BBC News and The Guardian – both have mobile-friendly sites offering a wealth of news and live commentary from matches.