Tech Review: Follow World Cup with these apps

Apps that help users stay connected. Apps that help users stay connected. Photo Credit: AFP / Getty Images

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Are you ready for some futebol? The World Cup kicks off in Brazil on Thursday, with 32 national teams competing in the world's most watched sporting event. These apps will help you follow the monthlong quest leading to one nation's hoisting the golden trophy on July 13.

FIFA

(iOS, Android; free)

This official app from the Fédération Internationale de Football Association -- soccer's international governing body -- added a World Cup section to its already voluminous coverage of the sport. The app's best feature is its continually updated news feed, although searching by team is not as easy as it should be. The app also has information on beach soccer, another sport governed by FIFA.

ESPN FC Soccer

(iOS, Android; free)

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ESPN has the U.S. rights to broadcast the tournament, and this stylish app has all the bells and whistles you'd expect from the nation's top sports network. In addition to news and photos, high-definition videos can be accessed. Once the World Cup begins, ESPN says the app will feature live match highlights and videos of goals moments after they are scored. ESPN sportscasters will also provide commentary and analysis on the matches.

SofaScore

(iOS, Android; free)

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For soccer fans, SofaScore has become a go-to app because of its in-game stats and comprehensive coverage of leagues around the world. For the World Cup, SofaScore has added pages for each of the 32 squads featuring rosters and other information. You can have notifications sent to your phone when a match you are interested in is about to begin. An in-app purchase of $4.99 removes the ads.

FIFA14

(iOS, Android; free)

Think you can do better than Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo or Argentina's Lionel Messi? Then become Ronaldo or Messi or other top players with this extremely popular simulation from EA Sports that has been updated to include World Cup teams. Gameplay on smaller smartphones is a bit difficult, but the stunning graphics and audio commentary make the game an immersive experience. The size of the app is huge, so make sure your device has at least 1.35 gigabytes of free space available.

TECH BYTES

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BATTLE OF THE BANDS

Wearable-activity-band pioneer Fitbit maintains a big lead in devices worn around the wrist despite the torrent of new bands from tech giants including Samsung and Sony. Research firm Canalys said Fitbit had a nearly 50 percent share of the estimated 2.7 million activity bands shipped in the first quarter. The bands track fitness-related information such as distance traveled and calories burned. -- Peter King

SMARTPHONE SECURITY LACKING

Despite rising thefts of mobile devices, 34 percent of smartphone users aren't protecting themselves by taking "even the simplest measures," such as using a password to lock their phone or backing up their data. The results, part of a new Consumer Reports study, also found that 4.5 million phones were stolen or lost last year and never recovered. -- Peter King

AMAZON SPAT HELPS WAL-MART

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Wal-Mart Stores said book sales on walmart.com have climbed 70 percent since the dispute began over book prices between Amazon and publisher Hachette. Wal-Mart is trying to take advantage of the quarrel that has seen Amazon block preorders for some of Hachette's releases, including "The Silkworm," the new novel by J.K. Rowling writing under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. -- Bloomberg News

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