It's time for the World Cup, far and away the biggest sporting event in the world, to kick off with today's opening match between host country Brazil and visitors Croatia. There are a whole myriad of ways to keep up with scores, news and analysis from Brazil and each of the nations involved, but few ways to actually watch the matches live if you're on a mobile device.
We've shown you how to add the entire World Cup schedule to your Google Calendar, but we're hoping you want to know more than just when the games are happening. If you're going to be following World Cup 2014 on your Android devices, there are a few apps you can install and keep up with the entire tournament.
Read along with us and see the best apps you need to have installed for this World Cup.
This is more of a reminder to take advantage of Google Now's abilities to keep you in the loop on information you care about rather than install it, as you likely already have the Google Search app installed and up to date on your phone and tablet.
If you want to receive World Cup updates in Google Now, simply open up the app and make a search for the World Cup schedule or your favorite national team. You'll soon see a card show up with upcoming matches — tapping on the card expands to more information on the match and headlines related to the game. It even gives you further links to the FIFA website for more first-party information.
This may be the best way to go if you just want some passive information on the games and results as they come through, but it won't be enough if you're looking to follow the tournament closely.
Download: Google Now (Free)
ESPN FC Soccer & World Cup
If there's only one news app you install to read and watch all of the World Cup coverage, make it ESPN FC Soccer & World Cup. The app has been updated to have a World Cup-only section where you can read news, watch video clips and of course catch the schedule and scores.
One of the most powerful pieces of the ESPN FC app is setting up granular notifications for specific matches that you care about most.
Download: ESPN FC Soccer & World Cup (Free)
If you follow soccer primarily in North America and are already familiar with MLS, the MLS MatchDay app is going to be another great source of information and news coverage around the World Cup. MLS has a whole host of reporters down in Brazil sending back regular news stories and video segments, primarily focused on the U.S. National Team.
You can search for only World Cup news in the app, and even get push notifications for new news items for the national team if you want to stay informed.
Download: MLS MatchDay (Free)
If you're hoping to watch games live on your Android device, and have a cable subscription, you're in luck this year. ESPN has partnered up with FIFA to stream every single match of the World Cup on the WatchESPN app, meaning if you meet a couple qualifications you'll be able to watch any game live on your phone, tablet and now (most importantly for many) Chromecast.
Now, those qualifications. Well, first and foremost you'll have to have a cable subscription to have any shot at WatchESPN working to stream games live. You'll also need to have a qualifying package from a participating cable provider that has a deal with ESPN to make the app work. That list (which we've linked below) is pretty inclusive, but notably lacks DirecTV and a few other popular providers.
The WatchESPN app is drastically less useful when it comes to following the World Cup if you don't meet the cable requirements to watch full matches, but it's absolutely worth having if you're one of the many who have yet to cut the cord at home.
Download: WatchESPN (Free)
If you don't have a cable subscription but still want to catch games live, Spanish-language network Univision Deportes will be broadcasting the first two rounds of the World Cup for free through their website and Android app. After the first two rounds you'll need to authenticate that you have a cable package with Univision, which includes many popular U.S. cable providers including DirecTV, but not Comcast.
The app itself is pretty basic — and yes, you can change the language to English — but if it's your only option it may be worth installing to watch. You'll of course have to listen to Spanish commentary with the matches (bonus for the bilingual among us), but sometimes that can add its own bit of flavor to the World Cup.
Download: Univision Deportes (Free)
BBC iPlayer and ITV Player
For those of you keeping up with the World Cup from across the pond, you have two solid options for viewing full games. Both the BBC iPlayer and ITV Player apps will be carrying the games, and between them you'll be able to see each and every match starting with the first kick tonight.
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