Now reporting to camp: MLB.com At Bat.
The sports app standard bearer returned on Tuesday for a sixth year and with a new look to millions of mobile devices everywhere, in time for this week's start of Spring Training exhibitions.
The highest-grossing sports app five years running was launched by Major League Baseball Advanced Media for the iPhone, iPad, supported Android smartphones and tablets, Amazon Kindle Fire and BlackBerry 10. A Windows Phone 8 version of At Bat is expected to be available in March. Look for the update if you haven't already.
At Bat, which has been available since it became one of the original 500 apps to launch with the Apple App Store on July 10, 2008, was downloaded a record 10 million times in 2013. That was a 45-percent increase over the previous year.
"Wherever I am, so is my game," said Jason Aldean, the multiplatinum country music star, Braves fan and former high school first baseman, among those who embrace this rite of spring. "Now it's cool, because it's kind of anywhere you go, you've got it right there. You can be walking down the street and pull [your iPhone] out and be watching on your phone. … I can keep up with everything."
The app is a year-round presence for fans, and now comes the fun of using it to follow your favorite players. Here is a primer on the return of a sports superstar:
Mobile experience pioneer
Long hailed for introducing features that matter to fans, At Bat reports for live Cactus and Grapefruit League exhibitions with a full app redesign for iOS 7 on iPhone and iPad, among other new enhancements. You again have access to the core functionality At Bat has pioneered over its first five years, including: personalized team experiences to deliver a linear feed of content for a designated favorite team; searchable libraries of tens of thousands of video-on-demand highlight clips; and customizable original news reporting and fantasy baseball analysis from MLB.com club beat reporters and national columnists.
The forefront of mobile video
Since it became the first app to stream live video in 2009, At Bat has introduced an evolving set of ways for its millions of subscribers to consume live baseball games. Beginning on Opening Day, MLBAM again will provide blackout free live look-ins, in-game highlights delivered to At Bat in less than 60 seconds, the free MLB.TV Game of the Day, live statistical overlays such as pitch tracking and an archive of Classic Games. New video-driven features being built by MLBAM for 2014 will be announced at a later date.
For the third year, MLB.TV Premium subscribers again will receive At Bat for free, unlocking the app's premium feature set. MLB.TV Premium is $129.99 a year or $24.99 a month, and signups are underway. Fans also may subscribe to At Bat for the one-time annual fee of $19.99, covering the entire season. iOS users may pay $2.99 a month with the recurring billing offering.
With an At Bat subscription, you get multi-platform live audio access for portability to take home, away and Spanish-language audio feeds to desktop and laptop computers. You also can have full premium feature access across all support iOS and Android smartphones and tablets.
Spring Training features
Tuesday's 2014 launch is just the start, as a further At Bat Opening Day update will be coming in March. You can watch more than 200 Spring Training games live with an MLB.TV Premium subscription (iPhone, iPad, select Android phones & tablets, Kindle Fire, BlackBerry 10).
In addition, all the supported devices will let you: listen live to all available Spring Training radio broadcasts; track league-wide scoreboards and batter-by-batter action for every exhibition; get breaking news, schedules and interactive rosters and players stats for every team; and check full-season schedule calendars.
Rays fan Summerly Brown is a social media specialist at the office of admissions and scholarships at Mississippi State, where she is in grad school, and she said she watches most games live via a Macbook Pro and iPad 2. But now she also is armed with a new iPhone 5c poised to expand the overall capability of following everywhere.
"It depends on where I am by which device I use," Brown said. "I have used the MLB.com At Bat app to keep track of scores on my iPhone 4 in the past. Since I recently upgraded to a 5C, I plan to watch games via my mobile phone a lot this upcoming season. I use these devices to watch the games home after work, during cycling training at the gym with Wi-Fi, and downtime between work and my night classes during the season. … it gives you access everywhere, anytime."
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog.