ESPN is overhauling everything this year, but before its website gets a makeover in April to mark its 20th anniversary, the sports giant is launching a new suite of apps with the same design language.
The new ESPN app is launching on iPhone, iPad, and Android smartphones today, and it’s replacing the old SportsCenter app with a sleek new interface that emphasises speed.
The app is divided into three main sections: Scores, a customisable feed that displays your favourite teams and the scores of games in progress; News, which shows you the day’s breaking news and development; and Now, a blog-style feed that features viral content and commentaries.
The biggest change is the introduction of the Now feed, which is powered by a dedicated editorial team that will write commentary spanning from viral photos to more in-depth responses to the breaking news you’ll find in the News feed.
ESPN has done a good job creating an organised and clean design language that will eventually be mirrored in the launch of the new ESPN.com in April. It’s easiest to notice the new design language in the iPad app. There’s an emphasis on simplicity and speed: Videos play in-line within their columns (though you can always go full screen), and everything from score updates to the blog posts in the Now feed can be shared with one tap.
The iPad app also has a nifty toolbar of your favourite teams in the bottom right-hand corner, which lets you easily tap a team to bring up their own page.
The ESPN team is still working on the Android tablet version, however, but you can expect a similar style and design.
The iPhone and Android smartphone apps echo this same layout, but the three sections Scores, News, and Now are divided into their own feeds that you can swipe between.
ESPN On-Air also has its own dedicated icon in the bottom toolbar, which lets you stream audio while continuing to browse the app or even if you lock your phone or hop over to Facebook.
Unfortunately, you still can’t stream live video content from within the ESPN app, but the app does deep-link to ESPN’s streaming app, WatchESPN. It’s a faster way to jump into a live broadcast, but it’s still second best to just allowing users to stream the content from within the main app itself.
This is just the first step toward a sleeker, faster, and more unified ESPN online, and ESPN has all the ingredients to allow live game streaming here, so I’ll keep my hopes up for a future update that eventually folds WatchESPN into the main ESPN app.
Most fans won’t notice a huge difference in functionality, but ESPN has polished things up nicely and it clearly shows.
You can download ESPN for iPhone and iPad over at the App Store, and Android smartphone users can head over to Google Play.