Apple Sports app promised star potential, but I'm benching it immediately

Apple Sports app on iPhone 15 Pro Max
(Image credit: Future / Apple)

As a sports-obsessed Apple journalist, the reveal of Apple Sports, a dedicated sports score app, felt like a watershed moment, a fitting parallel to Lionel Messi joining the MLS. Yet, 24 hours later I’m left scratching my head, confused as to how Apple could launch such a barebones experience, and still waiting for a notification to tell me last night’s score. 

When I first joined iMore over a year ago, I thought up an idea for a feature that would pit my most-used apps on my iPhone against each other to determine the ultimate sports score app. You see, I’m unhealthily obsessed with sports, from football (I refuse to write soccer), to darts and everything in between, I spend the majority of my time consuming something sports-related in some form or another. That means the most used apps on my iPhone 15 Pro Max are sports score apps like Flashscore, sports news apps like The Athletic, and my fantasy Premier League app where I take fantasy football far too seriously. 

Since Apple started to dip its toes in sports with Friday Night Baseball followed by worldwide streaming rights to Major League Soccer and rumors of the company’s influence on the world’s biggest sports star, Lionel Messi, joining the league, I’ve been waiting patiently for a dedicated sports app. Yesterday, the company revealed Apple Sports, and when my colleague showed me the press release, my response was, “OMG YES YES YES YES.”

The app, which at first glance is incredibly simple, shows you live scores of matches across a select number of sports and leagues (at the time of writing, even competitions like the Champion’s League, football’s premier club competition are missing). After the initial excitement, I downloaded the app and read an interview with Eddie Cue from our friends at TechRadar. Eddie Cue’s interview explained the thought process behind the app, a very clean and straightforward experience which he says is “the type of app you use multiple times a day. You don’t spend very long. You don’t spend 15 to 30 minutes, because you go in there [Cue starts snapping his fingers for emphasis], get some information, get some data, whatever it is you’re looking for, and then you’re done and you’re out."

Combined with Apple’s description of the app, I expected a fast and fluid experience that tells me as soon as a ball is kicked in the net and gives me the information I want from a sports alerts app. I was excited to show my equally sports-obsessed friends and was adamant that come the evening when Liverpool vs Luton, the app’s first test, kicked off, we’d see Apple’s simplicity blow our minds.

The test

Apple Sports App

(Image credit: Future / Apple)

To get the full experience of Apple Sports, I decided that I’d opt out of using my two favorite sports apps, Flashscore and Sofascore, to give my full attention to Apple’s experience. During Premier League games, I spend a lot of my time chatting with my friends and other fantasy football enthusiasts online, which means it’s really important that I get quick goal notifications if the game isn’t televised (in the UK, a lot of games aren’t due to a blackout law) as I don’t want to be left behind in the conversation.

The Premier League Liverpool vs Luton match wasn't televised, so it was the perfect opportunity to focus solely on Apple Sports and see what kind of experience the company had put together.

The lineup issue

Apple Sports on an iPhone 15 Pro Max frame with a football pitch as background

7:29 pm and still no team news (Image credit: Future / Apple)

For all major football matches, the lineup is pretty important, and it’s made available to the public exactly an hour before the game starts. With Liverpool vs Luton kicking off at 7:30 pm UK time, at 6:30, I checked Apple Sports for the lineup — no information in sight. I decided to check again every five minutes until the match kicked off with no luck. It wasn’t until 7:30 and the app had updated to show the game had started that I knew who was on the pitch, a complete miss on Apple’s part.

What’s the score?

With the game live, I could see everything Apple Sports has to offer — which in all honesty, is not that much. There are live betting odds locked to the American “money line” standard and only for the result, total goals, and spread of goals — I can overlook this, I don’t really care too much for gambling. Then there are some brief team stats, the league table (I forgot to check if this is updated in real time, but I honestly doubt it), and a Play-By-Play tab, which gives you brief updates on what’s going on in the match.

At 7:42 pm, Chiedozie Ogbene scored for Luton. How do I know? Well, if it weren’t for my friends, honestly, I probably wouldn’t. You see, Apple Sports doesn’t have any notifications at the time of writing. Yes, that’s right, the core feature of a sports score app, which is to alert people when there’s a score regardless of the sport, is missing here. The app doesn’t even show up in the “Notifications” section of the Settings app on your iPhone. The only way to know what the score is in the app’s current form is to either keep it open continuously or remember to double-check the score every now and then. I can’t speak for everyone, but a sports score app without notifications is almost as useless as a footballer with two left feet. So I opened the app, checked the Play-By-Play, and read, “Chiedozie Ogbene scores with a header shot.” Any football fan reading this will probably grimace at the language there, and
like most things in Apple Sports, it just feels completely out of touch. 

Apple Sports on an iPhone 15 Pro Max frame with a football pitch as background

Header shot (Image credit: Future / Apple)

With my fantasy football gameweek hanging in the balance and Apple Sports repeatedly telling me Liverpool’s center-back Virgil Van Dijk was taking a goal kick (this never happened, by the way), I closed the app and returned to my trusty third-party applications that give me constant updates as soon as a ball touches the back of the net.

Apple Sports on an iPhone 15 Pro Max frame with a football pitch as background

Van Dijk goal kicks (Image credit: Future / Apple)

Waking up to results (or the lack of)

Before going to bed, I added the MLS as a favorite league on Apple Sports. I thought Apple had intentionally launched this app alongside the first game of the MLS season, and while I don’t really follow the league, maybe I’d get notifications or a better experience with the MLS Season Pass on Apple TV tie-in.

Like most mornings, I completely forgot about the sports that happened while I was asleep and headed to Instagram to see Lionel Messi creating yet another viral moment by dinking the ball over an injured player on the ground. I then remembered Apple Sports' existence and realized I had no idea what the score of Inter Miami vs Real Salt Lake game was. That pretty much sums up the Apple Sports experience in its current form — it doesn’t have any positive impact on your life as a sports fan, and, if anything, it adds friction, feeling like a last-minute idea released far too early.

When the app was first revealed yesterday, Apple confirmed Dynamic Island support to us, yet it was nowhere to be seen last night. I’ve reached out to Apple for clarification, but as it stands, I can’t recommend Apple Sports to anyone. It has an easy-to-use, simplistic design, but it’s lacking so many features that it just doesn’t warrant a space on your iPhone. I haven’t felt this disappointed by Apple since the butterfly keyboard fiasco.

Out of form, but it’s not too late

After a day, I can’t recommend Apple Sports, but that doesn’t mean the app can’t turn it around and make an in-form run to the playoffs. You see, all I want from a sports score app is near-instant notifications when a goal, touchdown, or point is scored, Dynamic Island support, a wide range of sports and leagues, and team news earlier than the other apps on offer.

At the moment, Apple Sports has none of these offerings, not even delayed notifications. But, considering Apple confirmed Dynamic Island support, and that’s something I’ve wanted in a sports app for a long time (I’m not a huge fan of the current offerings), there is still hope for Apple Sports.

If Apple fixes the Live Activities and turns on notifications, the app will become infinitely better than its current state. But will the company do that? Because, at the moment, this project feels incredibly lazy and I can’t help but feel robbed of an experience that has so much potential.

John-Anthony Disotto
How To Editor

John-Anthony Disotto is the How To Editor of iMore, ensuring you can get the most from your Apple products and helping fix things when your technology isn’t behaving itself.

Living in Scotland, where he worked for Apple as a technician focused on iOS and iPhone repairs at the Genius Bar, John-Anthony has used the Apple ecosystem for over a decade and prides himself in his ability to complete his Apple Watch activity rings.

John-Anthony has previously worked in editorial for collectable TCG websites and graduated from The University of Strathclyde where he won the Scottish Student Journalism Award for Website of the Year as Editor-in-Chief of his university paper. He is also an avid film geek, having previously written film reviews and received the Edinburgh International Film Festival Student Critics award in 2019. 

John-Anthony also loves to tinker with other non-Apple technology and enjoys playing around with game emulation and Linux on his Steam Deck.

In his spare time, John-Anthony can be found watching any sport under the sun from football to darts, taking the term “Lego house” far too literally as he runs out of space to display any more plastic bricks, or chilling on the couch with his French Bulldog, Kermit. 

  • Annie_M
    I’m disappointed in it as well.
    Reply
  • iSRS
    My guess? It’s 2-3 weeks behind schedule. They wanted it ready for the MLS season start yesterday. So they released the bare minimum, maybe not even MVP, though one could argue a simple scores only app with zero bells or whistles is the very definition of a MINIMUM, though not exactly viable product.

    My guess? All of these seemingly basic features will be added by MLB Opening Day.
    Reply
  • Bla1ze
    I haven't had a chance to put it to the test yet since my sport is NBA and my team isn't back from the All Star break until tonight but this sounds like it's not going to be useful at all. Hopefully it's just a case of Apple improving along the way but alas, there's no shortage of sports apps if it stays in the current state for a while.
    Reply
  • TNT
    No NFL...DOA
    Reply
  • iSRS
    TNT said:
    No NFL...DOA
    Yeah, with all those NFL games between now and preseason in August. Makes the app totally useless.
    Reply
  • TNT
    iSRS said:
    Yeah, with all those NFL games between now and preseason in August. Makes the app totally useless.
    Since I went over your head, NWSL is there and it's the OFFSEASON. NFL should be the same. Nice try though.
    Reply
  • Annie_M
    I’m disappointed that there is not a category for Motorsports: NASCAR, Formula One, Indy Car, etc.
    Reply
  • Ledsteplin
    It's definitely not like the ESPN and Yahoo Sports apps. It's live scores and stats, and nothing more. So if there's nothing going on, then there's nothing there. Like saying "no NFL". Well, there are no live scores. The season is over.
    Reply
  • TNT
    Ledsteplin said:
    It's definitely not like the ESPN and Yahoo Sports apps. It's live scores and stats, and nothing more. So if there's nothing going on, then there's nothing there. Like saying "no NFL". Well, there are no live scores. The season is over
    Again NWSL is in the APP and IT"S THE OFF SEASON. You obviously didn't understand my comment.
    Reply
  • Ledsteplin
    TNT said:
    Again NWSL is in the APP and IT"S THE OFF SEASON. You obviously didn't understand my comment.

    I was agreeing with your assessment. Most people will expect more.
    Reply