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NBA offers second-screen iPad app for playoffs

With the NBA playoffs in full swing, I downloaded the NBA Game Time iPad app for a test run. The free second-screen app (iTunes) was updated earlier this month.

For NBA junkies, the app is a must for real-time stats while watching TV. It shows who’s on the court at any given time, shooting percentages, play-by-play details and box scores.

It even breaks down scoring zones (above) and a shot chart, updated in real time. Click a team member for in-depth numbers. You can also see league standings, a playoff bracket and video highlights. The stats and scores part of the app is a great TV companion.

For community, you can check-in with NBA Turnstile, which offers badges and awards for fans checking into the games on TV — and into games in person. Powered by Fanvibes, users can earn NBA awards and discounts throughout the season. You can login via Foursquare or Gowalla, and “shout” messages to others watching the game, which in turn can be sent to Facebook and Twitter.

Here’s where the app fell short. The “shouts” didn’t update in real-time on my app, even after logging in — I had exit and re-enter the check-in experience to see new posts. There was a fair number of people checked-into Fanvibes at the time (around 800), so the posts were happening — just not updating.

In all the second-screen apps we’ve reviewed, the hardest nut to crack is the real-time conversation. Either they try to mirror Twitter or Facebook — but in sub-par, unwieldy experiences — or they create their own community platform that’s clunky, or worse, empty. One of these days, someone is going to nail the perfect balance. In the meantime, enjoy the stats and keep the Twitter app handy.

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