Let the Games begin. Opening ceremonies for the 2012 Olympics kick off in London next week. Whether you’re hopping a plane to enjoy the Games up close—or staying couch side—here are some Windows Phone apps that can make it all more fun. Another tip: Use Internet Explorer Mobile to tap into NBC’s info-packed official Summer Olympics site for local U.S. broadcast times and more.
The official London 2012 Results app (free) is a must download, offering up-to-date news, schedules, and results for both the Olympics and Paralympics. Features include country-by-country medal counts, athlete profiles, and plenty of personalization options, so you can set reminders and follow your favorite people, events, and countries. There’s really a ton to dig in and explore here. The app even includes short tutorials on the rules for each sport—handy if you’re a fencing or Greco-Roman wrestling noob like me.
Although you’d never guess it from the name, Bing’s Get Me There is a London-specific travel app that’s designed to help you get around the city by tube, rail, or bus. Something that is quickly obvious: It’s very good. The app has comprehensive coverage of both the Underground and above-ground buses and trains like the Docklands Light Rail. It also shows you nearby stations and service updates. The latter should be particularly useful during the inevitable delays and craziness surrounding the Games. Another handy feature: offline access to tube maps, so you can find where you’re going even when your cell signal fails (like when you’re on the tube, for example).
A competitive alternative to the Bing app is London Travel, pitched as the “ultimate” travel app for British capital. The app felt equally comprehensive, and includes some nice extras like a bus arrival countdown and Oyster card balance checker (that’s the electronic fare card used for everything from trains to trams and ferries). Overall, London Travel easily earns its 99-cent price tag.
While I didn’t get a chance to walk around London with this app in my pocket, Rough Guides has always served me well on past trips. And the London edition for Windows Phone ($3.99) looks to be an equally reliable and handy travel companion. It lists key sights, hotels, restaurants, shops, and bars—and steers you right to them using your phone’s GPS signal. I also liked that it lets you build itineraries—Big Ben, pub, British Museum, pub, Parliament, pub—and pin them to your Start screen as a Live Tile. Of course, you could also download the free Amazon Kindle app to greatly expand your guidebook options. And don’t forget Windows Phone’s built-in Local Scout feature—a quick and handy way to find a nourishing pint of ale or steak and kidney pie.