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Tech Review: Apps for the Super Bowl

Fans ride a zip line during the NFL

Fans ride a zip line during the NFL Experience. (Jan. 27, 2012) Credit: AP

Super Bowl XLVI is just around the corner, and mobile apps can help you get ready for the big game and the even bigger Super Bowl party.

Whether you are intent on watching every play of the game or are planning a pigskin "par-Tay," we have the mobile app recommendations that will get you into the end zone.

NFL Mobile
(iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, free; Android, free; only available for Verizon Wireless subscribers)

If your iOS or Android smartphone or tablet device transmits data via Verizon Wireless, you'll be able to watch every play of the game (and the Pro Bowl) with this free application. For the first time ever, the NFL and NBC are streaming the games live online and via portable devices. This is great if you need to go on a beer-and-chips run before halftime. NFL Mobile also provides news, highlights, in-game statistics and much more. We hope that the other major carriers will be able to access live games in the years ahead.

Shazam
(iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android, BlackBerry, Windows, free)
You might be familiar with Shazam as the music discovery app that helps you identify what song you are listening to in an elevator or at a bar. The company recently added to its sound recognition technology, giving users the ability to identify and interact with the brands behind the commercials they see on television. This means you can tap into exclusive discounts, commercial outtakes and social media campaigns for the commercials that interest and entertain you the most. Shazam enthusiasts just interested in the tunes should take note of the LyricPlay feature, which scrolls lyrics for each song in time to the music.

Are You Watching This?!
(Android, free)
Despite all of the hype, many Super Bowls are blowouts and lose their competitive drama early in the second quarter. If you'd rather flip through other Sunday night programming instead of sitting through a clunker, this Android smartphone and tablet app will let you know if the losing team is mounting a historic comeback. Depending on what cable or satellite TV provider you use (Are You Watching This?! is also available for Google TV), the app will actually change the channel back to the game depending on what settings you input.

Simple Soiree
(iPhone, iPod Touch, $1.99)
If you're stressed out about hosting a super party, invest in this gathering-planning app that will take care of guest lists, RSVPs, grocery items and more. Also available as a free Lite version, Simple Soiree helps you focus on the game.

Football Squares Plus
(iPad, $2.99)
No Super Bowl party can be complete without a friendly box pool. But rather than scribbling your score projection for the end of each quarter on a rumpled piece of paper, preserve your pick digitally with this snappy iPad app.
 Appolicious.com, Tribune Media Services

Google is relaxing a requirement that real names be used on its Plus social network. Users have been seeking the right to set up accounts using nicknames or pseudonyms, but Google has been suspending them when it knows of violations. Google said last week that it will now allow nicknames and pseudonyms, as well as maiden names and names in non-Latin scripts. Plus's rival, Facebook, requires real names.

TECH BYTES

Games for mobile screens
Toy companies are eager to link products with smartphone and tablet games, creating toys that blend the virtual and real. Enter WowWee's Foam Fighters, made of thin foam shaped like World War II fighter planes. Attach them to a plastic arm that sticks to the back of an iPhone, iPad or Android phone, next to the camera. The airplane shows up on screen, and with a free app, it looks like it's zooming around in war-torn skies, controlled by the movement of the phone. On sale in April for $10.

Zynga considers online gambling
Zynga Inc., the social game company known for "FarmVille," is mulling a new market -- online gambling with real money. San Francisco-based Zynga says it is in active talks with potential partners. The company's "Zynga Poker" -- played with fake money -- is the world's largest online poker game; Zynga says seven million people play every day. The U.S. Justice Department recently ruled that in-state Internet gambling does not violate federal law.
The Associated Press

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