Team Stream is an iOS and Android app from Bleacher Report, recently updated with a new look. It’s available now as a free ad-supported download from the App Store and Google Play, and is currently featured in the New & Noteworthy section of the App Store front page. An “HD” version is also available for iPad — this review is based on the iPhone version, tested on an iPhone 4S running iOS 6.
Team Stream is an app designed to allow fans of various sports and teams to quickly and easily stay up to date with the latest news that is relevant to their interests. The experience is designed to be both highly customizable and social, allowing users to take control of their sports news and the discussion that inevitably surrounds such things.
Upon starting the app for the first time, the user is prompted to check off the things they are particularly interested in. Bleacher Report covers topics as diverse as domestic American sports leagues to international tournaments and even leagues from outside the U.S. such as the English Premier League in soccer. The user may add and remove topics they are interested in at will as they use the app, but these initial choices are used to populate the app with content to read as soon as it is fired up.
By default, Team Stream displays featured content from Bleacher Report along with the latest news from the user’s teams, but adjusting the settings allows the user to focus entirely on their teams if they prefer. The app’s home screen includes a feature slider with photographs as well as links to news specifically for the user’s chosen teams.
Upon viewing a story, the user has a number of different options. A story may be shared on Twitter or Facebook using iOS 5 and 6’s built-in social features respectively, and any story may also be shared with the user’s contacts and/or specific email addresses or phone numbers. Those who receive a story shared in the latter manner have the opportunity to join a private group by clicking on a special link, and this subsequently allows friends to have asynchronous discussions on the topics of their choice without having to leave the app or wade into comments sections. This is an immensely good idea and appears to be quite well implemented — any users who do not wish to join the group simply don’t click the link in the message they receive.
Team Stream is a good app that is well-presented and easy to use. The interface is intuitive and clear, and the app pops up unobtrusive little tutorial guides the first time a new function is used. The app is ad-supported, but this only takes the form of a small, subtle banner ad at the bottom of the home screen rather than obtrusive pop-up ads that interrupt the user experience.
On the whole, Team Stream not only provides a good experience for sports fans of various denominations, but is also a good example of how Web-based content creators can engage their readers on mobile devices in a highly customizable and social manner. The app encourages not only exploration of the available content, but also sharing and discussion — the latter being something that is often forgotten about in the drive to include social features. The focus on private conversations with friends rather than public-facing comment threads that can easily get heated is a very wise one, and it helps position this app as the 21st century equivalent of the watercooler sports conversation.
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