A tale if two iPhone apps

While killing time this morning before the noon football and U.S-Lithuania, I spent a little time in the iPhone app store. (Had to flash the firmware on my phone two weeks ago, so I started from scratch when it comes to apps.) The featured page is rich with sports apps at the moment and two in particular caught my attention: Yahoo! Sportacular and NFL.com Game Center 2010.

I’d heard Citizen Sports’ Sportacular app was headed back to market but with Yahoo! Sports branding and that has finally happened. If you’ve ever used Sportacular before, you know it’s a very strong sports app offering. I imagine the Yahoo! branding will make even more folks download this one now. The app looks the same for the most part, and you’re still able to use great features like Facebook Connect. They’ve also added something that I’ve personally been shocked wasn’t present in iPhone apps for sports sooner: check-ins.

What remains to be seen is how its live action performance compares to the ESPN Scorecenter app. I’ll put it to the test on Sunday and maybe drop an update in here if anything stands out one way or another. Either way, a strong update from the Citizen Sports folks in what remains a free app.

Then there’s the unfortunate other side of the coin from NFL.com. I understand there are complexities to getting this thing on the iPhone to begin with. The NFL has a partnership with Verizon just like they did with Sprint in previous seasons. I remember that the apps they’d offer on their preferred carrier were actually pretty strong. (I actually watched a few NFL Network games on my old Treo 800W with Sprint TV.)

Knowing all of that still doesn’t excuse the app NFL.com just put out on the iPhone app store. First, it’s $4.99. On the surface, that might seem like a bargain compared to pricey live-action apps from the NBA or MLB, but there’s a catch: this app does not feature live action. You will not get any as-it-happens audio or video. Instead, you’ll be treated to after-the-fact audio of “big plays” plus quarterly audio updates. The only thing you’ll see live is a press conference. Did I mention that there’s no fantasy integration? Or how about the fact that the early iTunes reviews complain about lag in the live scoring.

NFL, you’ve got to do better than this. Right now I can’t fathom why anyone would download this app for free, let alone pay $4.99 for the thing.

If you want to check out either app for yourself, you can find the Yahoo! Sportacular app here and the NFL.com Game Center 2010 app here.

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