My hunt for the perfect sports app continues unabated. In my mind, a sports app has to strike a perfect balance between information density, speed, and intuitiveness. None that I have tested have quite hit that mark.
The latest in the lineup of apps to receive my attention is CBS Sports. Recently redesigned for iOS 7, the app sports a slick new interface, as well as support for all of iOS 7’s gestures. Additionally, it offers support for a wide range of leagues and sports. Is it able to finally strike that balance between statistics and design?
Design and Performance
On the whole, CBS Sports is a slick app. The custom color scheme is distinctive and readable, all while staying true to iOS 7’s attempt to remove UI cruft and focus on what matters — content.
The design of a sports app is not easy to nail: it must offer support for multiple sports and leagues. These sports often have little to do with each other, and so making one single app that encompasses all of the statistics and scores is no small feat. Additionally, most sports apps also include a stream of news for each specific sport or individual league, and sometimes for individual teams. Again, designers have to craft an app that is able to hold all of this information without allowing the program to feel constrained or difficult to manage.
More so than any other app I’ve tested, CBS Sports accomplishes this. Navigation is based around a sliding panel that includes every league and sport you could want, as well as “My Teams,” “Live Games,” and individual options for scores, news, videos, and Tweets.
The app itself performs very well, with news, scores, and team information being loaded very quickly. There is no lag to be found, even when browsing very long pages of information — more than that, nothing in the app (except for news articles) are displayed in a WebView. This keeps performance snappy.
Advertising is in certain parts of the app. For instance, I have seen ads in the News section. They appear as banner ads across the bottom of the screen, and aren’t particularly intrusive — I’d prefer an option to pay the developers some money, but I can tolerate a few advertisements that are tastefully executed.
While the app is, by default, very bright, an optional dark theme can be activated in the settings. I actually prefer the white theme, as it is easier to read for me, but the dark theme is very useful when you’re catching up on some news or scores right before bed. One small issue: you have to manually set the theme. With other apps cleverly using the ambient light sensor of the iPhone to do this automatically, I wish that CBS Sports would as well.
Sports are found across the globe, but few apps are able to bring in information and scores from the vast majority. Instead, they usually focus on one culture or continent.
CBS Sports follows this path in some ways. It does seem to heavily focus on North American, and specifically the United States, sports. Football with a pigskin, baseball, and basketball of all levels are represented throughout the program. The NHL and MLS are also along for the ride.
Other sports and leagues, such as NASCAR, Formula 1, Premier League, and Mexican Primera are available. That isn’t the full list, but rather a taste of what is available. High school sports news is also available in some cases — I haven’t seen that in any iOS sports app yet, so it’s an interesting addition that seems to work well. That alone may put this particular app over the top — no more looking up the latest sports news in the local newspaper!
Using CBS Sports
When you first open the app, you are prompted to add your favorite teams. These teams go under the creatively-named category of “My Teams” and are quickly accessible in order to check scores, news, and schedules.
I suggest setting this up, as it also enables one of the best features of the app. You can swipe from the right any place in the app to reveal the list of teams you had previously added — it’s great for checking multiple scores or statistics at once, and finding team-specific news that might otherwise slip past you.
You can also set up notifications on a per-team basis for that list. The notifications work well, and deliver information and scores quickly. You can also edit your list of favorite teams in the settings, under the notification option.
There is only one annoying aspect to CBS Sports: those pesky ads that pop up occasionally. I have an extreme (odd?) hatred of in-app advertising, particularly for something that I would gladly pay good money for. However, since CBS has opted to keep the ads relatively minimal, this hasn’t discouraged me from using the app.
As it stands, CBS Sports has replaced Yahoo! Sports. It offers a similar amount of functionality, but with a better design and less-intrusive advertisements to pay for that information.