This article has been republished.
The 2012 Summer Olympics are just weeks away and, if you're planning to head to the UK to catch the games, now might be a good time to look into apps for your smartphone. Here's a list of handy programs that will help you make the most of your time in London...and navigate through the thousands of spectators set to descend on the nation's capital.
Official London 2012 Join In
Platform: iPhone, Android
The official app of the 2012 Olympics is as sleek as it is useful. If you're interested in following the Olympic Torch Relay in the weeks leading up to the opening ceremonies, this is definitely the program for you. Since the lighting ceremony on May 10th, users have utilized the app to learn about the Relay's street routes and the thousands of runners involved in carrying the torch to London. Once the games begin, "Join In" will provide attendees with information including the opening and closing ceremonies, travel tips, updates on happenings in Olympic Park and details on the thousands of Olympics-related events around town. It's also set to offer a "Spectator Guide" with searchable maps, rundowns on Olympics facilities, seating maps and "augmented reality" views of London's streets. In addition to live updates featuring news and photos, "Join In" also nicely integrates with Twitter, Facebook and FourSquare if you're interested in keeping the folks back home up to date with snapshots and anecdotes from your trip.
2012 Team USA Road to London
Platform: iPhone, Android
Here's an app that will keep you on top of what's happening with Team USA. Key features include: daily updates on squads and lineups, athlete biographies, photo galleries, video clips and links to official Team USA gear. News stories are grouped into categories that include the Olympic and Paralympics and by individual sporting events. There's also a custom-made "Cheer Button" that allows users to send messages of encouragement to the athlete's Twitter and Facebook accounts.
CityScouter's London Travel Guide
If you're trying to hunt down an alternative to TripAdvisor, CityScouter has developed an exhaustive app that covers London's highlights, earning it the top spot in Connect Magazine's test of 12 travel guides. LTG's articles, maps and transportation guides can be used without an internet connection, definitely a handy feature if the city's cell phone grid gets overloaded during the games or if you're unwilling to pay for your cell provider's international data plan. The app is constantly updated with details on local events including concerts, festivals and, yes, the Olympic games. Its informative maps are fully zoomable and offer information on points of interest near your location and its thousands of articles cover area attractions including museums, restaurants , bars and nightlife spots, complete with reviews and hours. If that's not enough, the app also comes with multiple language settings that range from English to Dutch and even Japanese.
Platform: iPhone, Android, Windows Phone 7 and BlackBerry
If you find yourself in a tight spot during the games, this app is sure to come in handy. "The Tube," London's subway system, is one of the world's best and many attendees will no doubt make use of it during the games, especially since cabs are likely to be few and far between. This app provides easy-to-use maps and rundowns on the underground network's lines. It also offers real-time departure information, updates on delays and line closures, in addition to a guide that will help you with journey planning.
Tom Daley Dive 2012
You're sure to have some time to kill while waiting for events to begin or on the plane ride over "the pond." This game, inspired by the teenaged diving prodigy from England, should help you squander minutes or even hours. Designed by the London-based Chelsea Apps Factory, the controls of this app take a few minutes to learn but much longer to master. The game's "gesture-controlled diving simulation" allows players to step into the shoes, er, swimming trunks of an Olympic diver. Mastering introductory dives leads to more complicated maneuvers. If you can beat the "Preliminaries," you can lead your diver on to international championships in Beijing and Barcelona. With the right kind of moves, you might even make it all the way to the 2012 Olympics. Or the iPhone equivalent, at least.