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Apple luring game developers into offering iOS timed exclusives, in exchange for more prominent advertising

plants-vs-zombies-2

Back in September of last year, EA ran into a bit of controversy over Plants vs Zombies 2, when an exec reportedly admitted that Apple had paid the company a ton of money to delay the Android launch. Later it was reported that the unnamed executive had really said something to this effect, but it had been meant as a joke.

Now according to a new report from the Wall Street Journal, we learn that while money might not have changed hands, that doesn’t mean an exclusivity deal wasn’t reached. WSJ’s sources that are “familiar with the situation” claim Apple has been working hard to woo game developers into releasing titles to iOS ahead of Android.

Apple has been working hard to woo game developers into releasing titles to iOS ahead of Android.

What’s the incentive for developers, if not cash? In the case of games like Plants vs Zombies 2, the game was featured prominently in the app store in exchange for a delayed Android release, giving it more views in the AppStore and potentially more downloads. Another example of a game that reached a similar marketing/advertising agreement was ZeptoLab’s Cut the Rope 2 — which arrive to iOS in December but didn’t hit Android until March.

Why exclusivity matters for Apple

In the video game market, both full and timed exclusives are rather common. For developers, there are usually monetary or promotional/marketing advantages, and for the console maker exclusives can make their system seem more desirable when compared to the competition.

For Apple, having key exclusives not only allows the company to attract gamers interested in getting into the action ‘right away’, it also helps Apple continue to feed the false perception that Android is harder to developer for due to fragmentation and other “Android problems”. After all, a gamer will see apps hitting iOS months ahead of Android, and may assume there must be ‘technical reasons’ for such delays.

Having key exclusives helps Apple feed the false perception that Android is harder to develop for.

As Google Android continues to increase its marketshare (representing 80% of smarphones shipped in 2013), Apple is losing the war. This is why it is important to keep alive the idea that Android is less secure, more fragmented and has a weaker library of apps, as it gives Apple and edge when it comes to mindshare.

Now to be fair, there was a time when all of these above points were completely valid.

In terms of app development, Android has traditionally been harder to develop for, in large part due to the shear amount of screen sizes, resolutions, processors and Android versions that developers had to account for. As time has gone by, however, Android’s development tools have improved making this less of an issue than it once was.

cut-the-rope-2

Google strikes back

Before you start shaking that stick at Apple in anger, it’s important to mention that WSJ reports Google is also working to form exclusive arrangements with app developers. WSJ also mentions that Amazon has been working to bring timed exclusives and even full exclusives to its AppStore as well, in an attempt to lure consumers into buying Kindle-branded tablets and simply installing the App Store on their existing Android devices.

Of course, game and app exclusives probably don’t have quite as big of an impact on what devices consumers buy as it does in the world of home and portable gaming consoles. Still, this could change in time, especially as mobile games become increasingly more advanced.

What do you think, how important is gaming to your Android experience? For those that also own Apple devices, does the company’s tendency to get games first one of the reasons you own an iPad or iPhone? Let us know what you think in the comments below.









Android Authority

Smart watches and glasses: More ‘tech’ than ‘wearable’?

google glass glasses

In the recent months we have seen an influx of wearable technologies, with various manufacturers scrambling to get their devices out into the market. These include smart watches, [wearable devices], health bands, and all sorts of devices meant to be worn as part of our clothing or apparel.

Wearable technology is [wearable devices], as developers have been trying to blend gadgets and apparel for decades now. But with the recent introduction of platforms like [wearable devices], the technology for wearable devices is beginning to become more standardized.

Google even introduced Glass early on, having first approached early adopters and those on the bleeding edge of tech. But even that has been met with some criticism amid privacy issues.

Wearable technology faces a few challenges, and it might not be quite as easy for devices like smartwatches and smart glasses to gain mass acceptance. Wearability concerns can be broken down into these challenges: physical and cultural and financial.

Design and physical limitations

The Moto 360 attempts to break the mold in terms of smartwatch design.

The Moto 360 attempts to break the mold in terms of wearability, considering most smartwatches today are bulky, rectangular devices.

In terms of design, smartwatches and smart glasses are still bulkier than we would want them to be. If you remember the Casio calculator watch of the olden days, these were a brazen sign of one’s geekiness, with their standout keypads and size. Perhaps it’s the same with most smartwatches that are being announced and launched these days, most of which are rectangular, thick and bulky — except perhaps for the Moto 360, which attempts to achieve a more traditional wristwatch design.

Smartwatch designs are still currently based on processors and components meant for smartphones, which is quite limiting in terms of size and form factor. According to analysts, however, this will improve over time. “I think there’s a lot of work to be done on the design,” said Chris Jones at Canalys Insight. As components become slimmer and internal components tailor-made for watches instead of phones, devices can start becoming sleeker and more wearable.

The key here is wearability, says Pebble principal designer Myriam Joire. “It becomes much more personal than just being in your pocket,” she said, comparing smartwatches to smartphones. As smartphone users, we are already highly connected in the first place, with an internet-enabled device in our pockets. But the main difference of smartwatches is that these are meant to be visible at all times, and not just hidden in one’s pocket. “You have to feel a connection with it aesthetically,” said Joire.

Social acceptance

Google Glass is banned in certain establishments due to privacy concerns.

Google Glass is banned in certain establishments due to privacy concerns.

Apart from physical challenges, there is also a potentially bigger concern with wearable devices, which involves social acceptance. It’s hard enough to accept the fact that virtually all mobile phones today have the potential for being spying devices, with their photo, video and audio-capture abilities. But when you start wearing a camera-enabled device on your face, this opens up a whole new set of challenges and criticisms.

You may have already heard of Google Glass being [wearable devices] like bars and restaurants. There’s a running meme about Glass users being considered “glassholes” because of potentially rude or socially unacceptable behavior.

Google itself claims that the [wearable devices] is not developing the platform itself, but building up the technology such that it becomes socially acceptable. When people start [wearable devices] because of privacy concerns — perceived or actual — it’s a sign that [wearable devices] might still be a long way to go.

Google has started sending home try-on kits for prospective users to see how they look with Glass on, which might help encourage users to warm to the idea of wearing — and seeing — Glass. The company has also started partnering with popular eyewear brands like Ray-Ban and Oakley, which is also a good sign, especially since eyewear makers are keen on being part of the trend.

Price

Google has partnered with eyewear brands like Oakley and Ray-Ban. Will this help popularlize smartglasses or at least drive down prices?

Google has partnered with eyewear brands like Oakley and Ray-Ban. Will this help popularlize smartglasses or at least drive down prices?

And then, of course, there’s price. When a piece of eyewear costs ,500, it’s not exactly chump change. This is one reason why wearables are mostly popular with early adopters. Those on the bleeding edge can afford to shell out big sums just to keep ahead of everyone else.

“Because of the price point, [wearable devices] tend to really be only for early adopters,” says Rob Chandhok, VP at Qualcomm Technologies, which manufactures the Toq smartwatch. These devices will become more appealing when they start offering better functionality, however, says Canalys Insight’s Jones.

Smartwatch prices are expected to fall, however, especially as component manufacturers start designing and building parts especially meant for these devices. And with big manufacturers running equally big marketing campaigns for their wearables, that’s a good sign for those who are on the lookout to become more connected without having to take out one’s smartphones from one’s pocket every so often.

What do you think is the biggest challenge for wearable devices? How will designers, manufacturers and users overcome these challenges?









Android Authority

Flickr for Android 3.0 update brings new look, improved editing and more

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Android Weekly: HTC One (M8), Facebook buys Oculus, Powered by Android, and more

This week in your world of Android: the HTC One (M8) finally launched, rumors of business features coming to Android surfaced, Google Now hit Chrome, Office for Android went free, Facebook bought VR startup Oculus, and news broke that Google mandates OEMs to use “Powered by Android” on boot screens.

These are the essential stories, the summary of an entire week in just a few words. It’s Android Weekly.

HTC One cometh

htc one m8 outdoors aa (11 of 14)

Aaand… it’s here, and not a moment too soon. The new HTC One (M8) launched this week, bringing a refined design, better specs, and a bunch of camera tricks. We took it for a quick spin and came back impressed. Here’s what you need to know about HTC’s latest gem.


Android for Business

Google Logo AA

Google wants to tackle the lucrative enterprise sector with its next big Android update, if one report is to be believed. Advanced encryption, biometrics support, and controlled authentication are some of the features that could make Android a hit with businesses.


Google Now jumps to the desktop

chrome google now

Google Now is one of the most interesting features of Android mobile devices, but starting this week anyone can enjoy it from a Chrome browser. From sports results, to weather, to flight information, Now cards will now show up on your desktop.


Office for Android is now free

Office Mobile for Android

In a historic decision, Microsoft quietly admitted that withholding Office from users of competing mobile platforms was a mistake, and made the Android version of its productivity suite free for home use.


Powered by Android, mandated by Google

htc one m8 powered by android aa (1 of 1)

Both the Galaxy S5 and the HTC One (M8) sport a curious Powered by Android inscription on their bootscreens. Coincidence? We think not. Reports from this week claim Google is mandating this change, probably to increase awareness of Android among users.


Zuck goes virtual

Oculus Rift CES 2014-1

Waves of outrage engulfed the interwebs this week, after Facebook acquired it would drop billion to buy Oculus, the maker of virtual reality headsets. Everybody was pinning their hopes for VR in Oculus, but does Zuck taking over means the end? Probably not.


What was the biggest story in Android this week? Tell us in the comments!


    








Android Authority

HTC president: Samsung devices are for those that want cheap plastic, HTC aims to deliver more

htc-one-m8-launch-aa-14-of-27 resized

HTC is no stranger when it comes to poking fun at its fiercest competitor. When the Galaxy S5 was first announced, HTC said that “buyers remorse” would be coming soon to GS5 customers and later HTC’s North American president Jason Mackenzie retweeted an image likening the Galaxy S5 to a band-aid.

With the HTC One (M8) now official and already available in select markets, HTC’s confidence (at least publicly) is at an all-time high. This is particularly true when it comes to Mackenzie, who has been talking up the M8 quite a bit recently while doing his best to throw in some jabs at the latest Galaxy S handset.

Speaking in an interview with Business Insider earlier this week, Mackenzie said that HTC was a “company that invests in our customers and delivers a beautifully designed product that you can feel proud of.” Turning to Samsung, he said the firm is simply “focused on investing in advertising”. Mackenzie further went on to say that Samsung uses it’s marketing and advertising to “paint the world blue” and that this is “evident when you look at the product”.

This falls in line with Mackenzie’s previous comments during the HTC press conference earlier this week, where he said that the HTC One M8 experience is “so much better than… throwing a few dimples on the back”. Mackenzie summed up Samsung’s position in the market by pointing out one of the company’s arguably biggest weaknesses: it’s use of plastic.

If you want to buy a product built out of cheap plastic, there’s a solution for you. But we’re going after a different customer, someone who wants the best.
Jason Mackenzie
HTC President of North America

Samsung Galaxy S5 Color Comparison -1160820

Bold words, but can HTC deliver?

With HTC struggling to stay relevant in the Android world as of late, it’s important that they retain a calm, strong front. The big question, however, is whether the HTC One (M8) and other upcoming devices have enough weight to finally give HTC the edge it needs over the competition.

According to Greenbot, in yet another recent interview HTC’s Jason Mackenzie spoke about what HTC is doing differently this year, and how this could finally be their year to shine brightly once again. In the interview, Mackenzie said that if “you look at our 17-year history, we’ve had only one negative quarter. Not many people can communicate that.” He also mentions that HTC is “one of only three smartphone companies that’s been consistently profitable”.

The big question is if the HTC One (M8) has enough weight to finally give HTC the edge it needs over the competition

Of course, HTC has been struggling fiscally for a long while now, even if it’s managed to mostly break even or scrape together a small profit. Regardless of their continued fiscal problems and drop in market/mindshare, Mackenzie seems optimistic that the M8 can turn things around.

The biggest change in strategy, according to Mackenzie, is that they are releasing the handset from day one, while the buzz is fresh. This is in contrast to the original HTC One, which was announced 7 weeks before it arrived to the public. Another major folly with the HTC One (M7) was that it wasn’t launched simultaneously on all major carriers and arrived to Verizon — the U.S. Market’s largest carrier — five months after its initial launch to the public.

It’s true that HTC has handled the M8’s launch much better than it did the original HTC One.The handset also arrives at a time when many Android fans seem to be growing weary of Samsung’s refusal to make major changes in terms of aesthetics and software, which is something that HTC could certainly use to its advantage.

What do you think, does HTC have what it takes to finally become a key player in the Android world once again? Do you prefer HTC’s premium styling and their overall approach, or you do favor Samsung’s products — regardless of the company’s continued use of plastic on its flagship offerings?

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post’s poll.

    








Android Authority

Android Weekly: Android Wear, Oppo Find 7, new Google Now commands and more

This week in your world of Android: Google launched Android Wear, Moto and LG teased their new smartwatches, the Chromecast and Nexus arrived to more countries along with Play Movies and Music, Oppo introduced the amazing Find 7, KitKat finally hit Sony’s flagships, the Galaxy S5 went up for preorder, and some cool new features were added to Google Now.

These are the essential stories, the summary of an entire week in just a few words. It’s Android Weekly.

World, meet Android Wear

Introducing Android Wear Developer Preview - YouTube 09 001265

Google surprised just about everyone when it announced Android Wear this week. This new version of Android is designed specifically for wearable devices, with an initial focus on smartwatches. Using a Google Now-like interface and voice commands, Android Wear is a hugely promising development.


Moto 360 and G Watch

Moto360_Leather_RGB

Google will work with Android OEMs and watchmakers to launch Android Wear devices, and two of them have already been announced. The LG G Watch and the Moto 360 will be released later this year, bringing the power of Wear into sleek, attractive designs. The Moto 360 in particular, with its round dial, is looking hot!


Chromecast and Nexus continue expansion

chromecast angle aa

Google’s affordable devices are wonderful, but just a few countries can get them directly from the Play Store. That’s slowly changing, as Google opened up its hardware store to more countries, and extended the availability of the popular Chromecast HDMI dongle to 11 new markets.


Play Movies and Music in a lot more countries

google play movies

Google also opened up its music and movies shop to dozens of new countries, letting more people get affordable, legal media right from their mobile devices.


The amazing Oppo Find 7

Find 7 2014 Hands on AA-1180660

Darcy and Josh travelled to Beijing this week for the Oppo Find 7 and boy was it worth it. The Find 7, with its Quad HD display, powerful camera, and fast charging battery, is one of the hottest devices of the year so far.


KitKat lands on Xperia

sony xperia z1s review aa-13

Several high-end Xperia devices received an update to Android 4.4 KitKat this week, bringing them up to date with the new Sony Xperia Z2.


Keep calm and prepare your credit card

samsung <a rel=galaxy s5 2″ src=”http://cdn04.androidauthority.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/samsung-galaxy-s5-2-645×362.jpg” width=”710″ />

The hot new Galaxy S5 is coming April 11, but you can now preorder it from a bunch of retailers and carriers from around the world. Going for the same price as its predecessors, the S5 is coming in four snazzy colors. Decisions, decisions…


Voice commands got smarter

okay google now voice commands

Google added new voice commands to Google Now/Search, for the first time allowing users to interact with the phone using their voice. You can now open the camera by saying “take a picture” or start Play Music by saying “play some music”. It doesn’t seem much for now, but these actions are opening the way for more powerful commands coming in the future.


What was the biggest Android news this week? Tell us in the comments.


    








Android Authority

Best spreadsheet apps for iPad: Numbers, Google Drive, GoDocs, and more!

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From crunching numbers to tracking inventory, these are the best spreadsheet apps for iPad!

If you work on spreadsheets, be they in Microsoft Office, Google Docs, Apple Numbers, or something els, the iPad can be a great way to take them with you, edit them on the go, and even project them for a team. What you give up in laptop power you make up for in ultra portability. There are lots of different spreadsheet apps to choose from on the iPad, but which ones are the absolute best?

Numbers

 Best spreadsheet apps for iPad: Numbers, Google Drive, GoDocs, and more!

Numbers is part of Apple’s iWork suite and handles nothing but spreadsheets. It comes free with every new Mac and iOS device. You can choose from many different templates, save and export in Microsoft office format, and much more. You can even use iCloud to sync your data across all your devices so no matter which one you open a spreadsheet on, it’s always up to date.

If you have an Apple ecosystem consisting of iOS devices and Macs, look no further than Numbers.

Google Drive

 Best spreadsheet apps for iPad: Numbers, Google Drive, GoDocs, and more!

Google Drive encompasses the entire Google Docs service and lets you both view and edit spreadsheets right inside the app itself. If you have shared spreadsheets with others inside of Google Drive, you can view and edit those too. It’s set up much like Google Drive on the web so if you use that, you’ll be right at home.

If you use Google products or want access to your spreadsheets no matter what platform you’re on, Google Drive is the safest bet.

GoDocs

 Best spreadsheet apps for iPad: Numbers, Google Drive, GoDocs, and more!

GoDocs was made specifically for Google Docs and provides much of the same functionality as the Google Drive app. One thing I prefer about GoDocs over Google Drive app is the layout. It’s also got some powerful search and filter features that Google Drive just doesn’t offer.

If you’re tired in Google Docs but don’t particularly care for the official Google Drive app, give GoDocs a test drive.

Documents To Go

 Best spreadsheet apps for iPad: Numbers, Google Drive, GoDocs, and more!

Documents To Go lets you store and edit many types of documents, including spreadsheets. The standard version lets you edit and manage spreadsheets and word documents. The premium version gives you the ability to edit powerpoint documents as well as sync and access files in iCloud, Google Drive, iCloud, Box.net, and SugarSync. The design isn’t as great as several other spreadsheet apps but the functionality surpasses most.

If you want lots of functionality along with the ability to sync your files with any file storage service, Documents To Go is worth a look.

Documents 5 by Readdle

 Best spreadsheet apps for iPad: Numbers, Google Drive, GoDocs, and more!

Documents by Readdle beautifully integrates with all of Readdle’s other products for an almost complete office suite. While you can’t edit spreadsheets, you can view and send them along with the rest of your files inside Documents 5. It plays nicely with other apps such as Google Drive as well.

If you just need to view and send spreadsheets rather than edit them, there isn’t a more elegant option than Documents 5.

Your picks?

Do you have a favorite app for editing spreadsheets? Is it one of the ones above or something different? Be sure to let me know in the comments what you use and why!

f065ab5731mf.gif Best spreadsheet apps for iPad: Numbers, Google Drive, GoDocs, and more!

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Additional Moto 360 details revealed: splash resistance, unique charging method and more

Earlier today, Motorola had a live Hangout event where they talked a bit about the upcoming Android Wear-powered smartwatch, the Moto 360. Although Motorola wasn’t able to divulge too many secrets, the project’s lead designer Jim Wicks did shed a little more light on what to expect from the watch.

You can always watch a full recording of today’s event in the video above, but here’s some of the biggest takeaways:

The Moto 360 is for lefties or righties: Thanks to the “orientation free” design of the watch, it is possible to flip the Moto 360 around and wear it on either the right or left wrist. In other words, the UI will orientate to whatever way the watch faces.

The Moto 360 is a uni-sex product: Like pretty much every other smartwatch we’ve seen out there, the 360 is a one-gender-fits-all product. That said, Motorola says that the design should fit comfortably for both men and women and the existence of changeable bands will allow you to create a style/fit that best works for you.

Splash resistance: Motorola doesn’t get too detailed on what to expect in terms of IP certification, but at the very least the watch should be able to resist a splash or two.

Moto 360_Map

A unique charging method: The 360 is said to lack a charging port or any other kind of typical connector. They aren’t yet revealing how the device will charge, though inductive charging is probably a safe bet. Then again, perhaps they’ll do something completely out of the box here — we’ll just have to wait and see.

The 360 complies to one of two Android Wear standards: Wicks says that Android Wear’s UI is designed with both round and square screens in mind, and seems to imply that other rounded smartwatches could be in the works from other manufacturers.

Battery life is a priority: Motorola doesn’t specify how good the battery will be, but it does say that they consider this a priority — a sentiment we’ve heard from Motorola before.

Works with Android 4.3 or higher: Motorola’s previous statements suggested the watch would work with a wide range of Android devices, now we know that it will work with any device that features Jelly Bean 4.3 or newer.

For more details on the Moto 360 and what we know so far, you may also want to check out our original coverage of the Moto 360 announcement by clicking here.

What do you think, excited for the 360 (and/or Android Wear in general) or not? Could this be the smartwatch we’ve all been waiting for?


    








Android Authority

Amazon Kindle app update includes faster load times, font choices, more

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[#protected_0#] recently rolled out another update for the Kindle app. This one doesn’t have any major bump in version number, but it does appear to have brought along a decent sized list of changes, additions and improvements. To begin with — Amazon addressed the issue of speed with faster cover load times.

Another big addition this time around were the auto-brightness controls. These can be found using the menu icon in the upper right, and it sits alongside the text size, color and other personalization options. Simply put, you can now slide the brightness manually or opt for the auto-brightness mode.

207699fa49dle 02.jpg Amazon Kindle app update includes faster load times, font choices, more

Staying in this same menu location and you’ll also find the ability to adjust the font. Otherwise, remaining items from the changelog include mention of a fix for the sensitivity issue on the volume button page turning, and easy access to the table of contents in the book. The table of contents can be accessed from the left-side navigation menu and will make it easier to move from chapter to chapter, search, sync and go to a specific location.

Lastly, Amazon also offered a few hints with this latest update. There was mention of how you can tap the center of the screen (while in a book) to access the options and settings. Similarly, while in the library you’ll be able to tap and hold any item. The Amazon Kindle app can be found in the Google Play Store.

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Best March Madness apps for iPhone: NCAA Sports, CBS Sports, ESPN Tournament Challenge, and more!

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[#protected_0#]

The best March Madness apps for iPhone that let you check scores, keep up on news, view bracket standings, and more!

March Madness is upon us and all the basketball fans will no doubt want to keep up with all the action. If there’s a game you can’t watch, your iPhone can easily let you check scores, view brackets, and more. These are currently the best App Store apps for iPhone to help you keep up with March Madness!

NCAA March Madness

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The March Madness app by the NCAA is the official app for the tournament. Not only can you view brackets, news, an upcoming schedule — you can even log in with your cable provider and watch every single game live. You can even make your own brackets within the app. If you aren’t sure what channels March Madness games are on in your area, there’s a channel finder to fix that problem as well.

If you want the ability to watch every single game in the palm of your hands, get the official March Madness app by the NCAA.

  • Free – [#protected_0#]

NCAA Sports

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The NCAA Sports app encompasses not only March Madness coverage but coverage of all NCAA events. Aside from all Division I scores and rankings, you can view all kinds of sporting events including baseball, basketball, hockey, and more. Choose the schools you want to follow and receive notifications and alerts for their standings and scores.

If you’d prefer an app that focuses on NCAA as a whole, not just basketball, NCAA Sports is what you want.

ESPN SportsCenter

 Best March Madness apps for iPhone: NCAA Sports, CBS Sports, ESPN Tournament Challenge, and more!

ESPN SportsCenter covers pretty much every sporting type you could imaging across many different levels. Not only can you view NCAA information — but NFL, MBL, and more. You can set up push alerts for your favorite teams, check scores, watch highlights, read news, and more.

If you want one place to follow all your favorite teams, regardless of classification or level, get ESPN SportsCenter.

ESPN Tournament Challenge

 Best March Madness apps for iPhone: NCAA Sports, CBS Sports, ESPN Tournament Challenge, and more!

ESPN’s Tournament Challenge app lets you create brackets, join other peoples, invite your friends and more. You then compete with your brackets against everyone else to see who ends up being the Final Four. ESPN also offers a chance for someone to win ,000 every year based on their brackets. Tournament Challenge ties in with the official SportsCenter app as well for live coverage and scores.

If you’re a bracket fan and want to compete with friends, ESPN Tournament Challenge is for you.

CBS Sports

 Best March Madness apps for iPhone: NCAA Sports, CBS Sports, ESPN Tournament Challenge, and more!

CBS Sports, like ESPN SportsCenter, lets you catch up on all your favorite sports in one place. Set push notifications for your favorite teams, view brackets, check out video highlights, read news, and more. The thing that stands out to me about the CBS Sports app is that you can view more information at a glance due to the way scores are presented.

If you want to quickly check scores on the go, CBS Sports does the best at displaying the most information in the least amount of time.

Your picks?

If you’re a basketball fan, what apps are your favorite to follow along with March Madness? Are you using any that aren’t included? Let me know in the comments!

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