One of the exclusive applications for Nokia's Windows Phone 7 devices is from the sports network ESPN. There are many apps out there providing news and media clips to sports fans, but with the ESPN brand name behind it, many people are going to grab this for their Lumia. Given the exclusive nature, Nokia might be banking on this app to help sell Lumias. If so, they may be disappointed.
Version Reviewed: 22.214.171.124
Opening with the Metro UI panorama view, your first port of call is the headlines for the whole sporting world, followed by a number of video reports and the the latest tweets and status updates from ESPN's social network properties (such as @ESPNuk on Twitter). Videos are played through Windows Phone 7's built in media player, but won't appear in the history list of the Music+Video hub. I think that's a good call to not clutter up those lists, but it might not be to the taste of everyone.
Tucked away on the far right of the panorama is the sport selector, where you can focus in on just one sport. Once you choose, you're presented with another panorama screen with similar news, video, and social lists to browse; but there will be some additional lists depending on the sport. In the case of football (okay... association football, soccer, etc) you have the league tables and results. These can be either live results if games are in play, or the most recent results in that sport.
Tap on any of these games and you'll be taken out of the app and to the ESPN mobile website for all the details and reports. For the football reports, these are mostly text, with some smart layout, but when you go to other sports, such as MLB (Major League Baseball) and a live game you'll see a fantastic use of HTML5 with animations, in game stats, and text reporting.
ESPN is a good tech demonstration, but there are a number of gaps that if addressed could result in ESPN being a really good application. The gaps are strange - for example there's no Scottish Premier league or English Championship League in the Football section; you'll only see a handful of sports on offer depending on the region your phone is set to; and the coverage itself feels rather perfunctory and as if it's aiming at a mass media audience, rather than a hardcore fan of a sport. It's a bit too detailed for the masses, and isn't comprehensive enough for someone who follows a sport closely.
Live Tile support is present, allowing you to pin a single sport to your home screen. This takes you straight to the panorama for that sport, but if you want to jump to the all sports headlines, or another sport, you'll need to come out of the application and launch it again. It's a slight step away from the idea of deep linking into an application, and again goes down as a mark in the "test bed" column and not in the "competent app"
ESPN is a great brand name to have on Windows Phone, and Nokia are to be congratulated that they have an exclusive period with this application. It's just a shame that the promise of the app isn't yet on show.
Reviewed by Ewan Spence at