For the 100th Anniversary of the Tour de France, NBC Sports has released Tour de France Live, the latest version of their iPhone and iPad app for mobile viewing.
In this article, I'm going to explain several of the features that make this iOS app worth $14.99, and how I get as much value out of it as I possibly can.
First of all, the application provides you with the right to stream live action, highlights, interviews, and recorded coverage of stages of the 2013 Tour de France via the Internet while in the United States. There may be iOS apps available in other countries that provide this capability as well, but we can only recommend this app to fans of professional cycling who are in the United States during the month of July 2013. You must also have a high-speed Internet connection with sufficient throughput and an unlimited or at least a very high data cap.
In the image shown above, the video player is displayed at fullscreen on a third-generation iPad. In this player important controls are available to allow you to move back and forth through video as it is streaming, to display the action you are watching on another AirPlay device, and to zoom / unzoom the player which permits the sidebar containing video clips to be hidden or displayed.
These are huge advantages for the iOS app when compared to the web version of Tour de France Live, which is priced at $29.99.
When you unzoom the video player, you have the ability to choose from a series of highlights, interviews, and full replays of the race, as shown in the left sidebar.
This capability allowed me to review the Stage 1 crash, in which Ted King was injured. It is incredibly easy to take screenshots of the action as it appears on your iPad screen, which makes it much easier to blog about the Tour than it used to be.
Another thing it helps you to do is to get great shots of photo finishes. In this screenshot from Stage 3, you can see that Simon Gerrans, Rider Number 181, just outstretches Peter Sagan, Rider Number 11, for the win. Once you are comfortable with how the Tour de France Live '13 app works, you can easily capture images like this.
If you have a favorite rider like Pierre Rolland of Team Europcar, you will have opportunities to capture images like this, when your rider comes to the front of the peloton.
One of my favorite things to do while watching the tour is to capture images of the incredible scenery of France, and to look up information about the geographic features or the history of buildings that the aerial cameras choose to feature. An example is this photo of the Citadel of Calvi, Corsica, which was near the finish of Stage 3.
The French make a point of creating unique artwork and displaying it near the course of the Tour. This is multimedia piece that was on display near the finish of Stage 3 in Calvi, Corsica.
When the race is over for the day, you can also get good photos of the stage winners and jersey winners. An example is this photo of Jan Bakelants, who held on to the maillot jaune after Stage 3.
In terms of stability, this app has not crashed once on my iPad in many hours of viewing in the first week of the 2013 Tour.
All in all, I think the NBC Sports Tour de France Live app is well worth the $14.99 price in the iTunes App Store. It has significantly enhanced my Tour de France viewing experience already this year. I would strongly recommend buying the app if you can't be in front of your HDTV as much as you'd like to be at this time of year, or if you want to have the ability to capture some of the images of the Tour for yourself.
[ Photos: Screenshots of the NBC Sports Tour de France Live application for the iPad, highlights of Stages 1 and 3. ]