The biggest social media platforms have been around for previous Olympics, including the Beijing Summer Games of 2008 and the Vancouver Winter Games of 2010. However, some are calling the London Summer Games of 2012 the "Socialympics."
The International Olympic Committee even launched the Olympic Athletes' Hub, a site to connect fans with Olympic athletes, past and present, through Twitter and Facebook (FB) streams, for the coming Games.
"We are at a dawn of a new age of sharing and connecting, and London 2012 will ignite the first conversational Olympic Games [between athletes and fans] thanks to social media platforms and technology," said Alex Huot, head of social media for the IOC, in an email interview with ESPN Playbook.
The 2012 Summer Games is also a first for Apple's (AAPL) iPad. And it's no surprise that a large majority of the near 150 iPad applications relating to the Olympics involve a social media component to engage fans traveling to London, watching from home or tuning into the Games on the go.
NBCUniversal launched two free iOS apps to cover the Olympics.
NBC Olympics Live compiles news, results and schedules, medal counts, TV and online listings, videos and photo galleries for all 32 sports, as well as profiles of all the Team USA athletes. NBCUniversal is majority owned by Comcast (CMCSA).
In the "Socialympics" spirit, the NBC Olympics Live app also allows fans to follow their favorite sports, teams and athletes as well as engage with other fans through Facebook, Twitter and Google's (GOOG) Google+.
NBC Olympics Live Extra will stream all 3,500 hours of the Games live for those fans watching from afar or on the go; however users are required to login with cable, satellite or telecom TV subscription information. The image-heavy app offers access to alternative camera views and replays. Its Push Notifications feature can be set to provide fans with breaking news, reminders about event start times and event results.
Both of the NBC Olympics apps require iOS 5.0.
The London 2012: Official Join In App for the Olympic and Paralympic Games enables users to plan and share their viewer experience. This free, easy-to-use app offers a full schedule of Olympic events, videos, a map, which includes a My-Pin feature to share a location with friends, a visitors guide, social media feeds, news reports and official and unofficial photos. When the app is active, but not open, it sends notifications to the main screen of its subscribers' iPads about upcoming events.
The app's Places feature is particularly interesting for those curious about architecture and construction processes of the Olympic venues and surrounding city sites. Before construction began on the the Acquatic Center designed by world-renowned Saha Hadid, archaeological investigations discovered evidence of an Iron Age settlement, including an ancient burial site with four skeletons, according to the app.
Another unique component is the Walk in the Olympic Park, which directs users on a guided tour through waterways, greens, and venues. Visitors can learn about the Park's sustainable design - Did you know the Olympic Stadium is the most lightweight Olympic Stadium to date, for example?
The 2012 Team USA Road to London Olympics app provides extensive information about all U.S. athletes. The pages covering the 29 Olympic sports and 20 Paralympic sports include links to the official team websites, plus news features and links to Facebook and Twitter activity relevant to each sport.
There is a search function for the 529 athletes that qualified for the Summer 2012 Games, the hopefuls and the Summer 2012 Olympic and Paralympic trials. The unofficial head shots of the young talent inspire hope and pride in Team USA.
Although this is app is free and easy to use, it's slow.
Spectators watching the Olympics across NBCUniversal properties, such as NBC, NBC Sports Network, MSNBC, Bravo and CNBC, can use Shazam, most widely known as a music identification application, to have an interactive viewing experience.
The app identifies the relevant sporting event by "listening" to the TV broadcast and display details about athletes, event updates, results and medal count. Users can participate in viewer polls and discussions with the app's integrated social media features.
This free app is one of the Top Ten most downloaded apps on iTunes App Store, but these new features require iOS 5.0.
After a particularly wet summer in London, Olympic spectators should be prepared to cheer in the rain or shine.
Weather prediction application Dark Sky can help fans avoid melting in the sun or being drenched by the rain, by anticipating weather shifts minutes in advance. The app could tell its users that it will begin to rain in 9 minutes for 15 minutes, followed by a 26 minute break.
Not only is this app accurate, it uses beautiful high resolution animation to display the moving weather patterns. It's definitely worth the $3.99 investment.