JOHANNESBURG (TheStreet) -- Apple's (AAPL) - Get Report iPhone 4 has fans outside Apple, AT&T (T) - Get Report and Best Buy (BBY) - Get Report stores fired up today, but perhaps none are more amped than the increasingly mobile World Cup audience.
For a bit of perspective, the iPhone didn't exist until a year after the last World Cup in 2006. This year, ITV,
ESPN, Univision and the event's other global broadcasters are sprinting to put the World Cup on as many screens as possible -- including the iPhone 4's 3.5-inch high-resolution
With so many World Cup-related (and
) iPhone apps out there, which ones should a fan download to get through the end of group play and into the knockout rounds? TheStreet decided to play referee in this matter, putting through the best World Cup apps and red-carding the rest. Here are our top five:
5. ITV1 2010 FIFA World Cup:
ITV has taken its mobile coverage as seriously as the U.K. is taking the upcoming
The same network that canned commentator
after tickets from his allocation ended up in the hands of ambush marketers in
was a bit more fun with its free app, which includes highlights, news, stats, podcasts, match details and ITV's live stream of the action. The minor caveat is that you have to be in the U.K. to access the streaming feed, but it's a pretty sweet perk if that's your neck of the woods.
4. EA Sports' FIFA 2010:
There are big breaks between World Cup matches, and fans should use each of them to see what would happen if England's Wayne Rooney took a hard slide into Portugal star and Manchester United teammate Cristiano Ronaldo.
latest iteration of its FIFA series lets you play with any of 570 teams in 30 leagues using the iPhone's touch screen and accelerometer (the tilting mechanism). For $4.95, it's a costlier app, but a great diversion.
3. JBMJBM's Soccer/Football Rules:
Now that the U.S. is in the knockout round, a whole bunch of
"fans" who could be heard disparaging soccer as the World Cup began will now want to know what they're watching once the anthem stops playing.
This app contains for the NCAA and FIFA rules of the game -- hint, newb, only FIFA's apply in South Africa -- as well as illustrations of all the referee signals. This app isn't just for newcomers, however, as even U.S. football die-hards can use a refresher on offsides rules before getting apoplectic every time the flag appears. Disallowed goal against Slovenia aside, not every offsides call is a slight to the Stars and Stripes.
ESPN's World Cup app filled with stats, schedules, live scoring and GameCast is free, but charges a $7.99 fee for live audio coverage of the World Cup. ESPN 3's live streaming of the various events
work on the iPhone, but AT&T's Mobile TV service isn't exactly in sync with ESPN's and requires the free MobiTV app and a $9.99-a-month subscription to function. Even in its latest incarnation, the iPhone 4 is still only as good as AT&T's limitations.
1. The Univision Futbol App:
This free app is the steal of the tournament for one big reason: free streaming. Granted, the commentary is
, but the news, results, videos and live gamecasts come through in the translation. Besides, it's worth brushing up on some basic Spanish to hear Pablo Ramirez and Jesus Bracamontes call a game that puts ESPN's dry-as-toast delivery to shame.
-- Reported by Jason Notte in Boston.
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Jason Notte is a reporter for TheStreet.com. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Esquire.com, Time Out New York, The Boston Herald, The Boston Phoenix, Metro newspaper and the Colorado Springs Independent.