The NHL is tackling (sorry, checking) its mobile campaign with total refresh of its app for the 2014-15 season, which starts tonight.
It's no secret, the league's Android and iOS app was in desperate need of a makeover, and I got an early chance to check out its brand new interface -- which is now available in the iOS App Store and Google Play.
Originally named NHL GameCenter, the new app is self-titled, simply NHL. It's a bit more confusing than fans might think, though. Mostly because GameCenter, the league's premium streaming pay service, is accessible through the NHL app, and becomes unlocked once the subscription is paid for.
So aside from GameCenter, why should a hockey fan use the NHL app when there are plenty of capable multi-sport alternatives out there? It's all about the content. The NHL app offers quick access to exclusive videos, replays and highlights from around the league, accessible within a few taps. It's all updated quite frequently, so there's always something new to watch.
The NHL app's interface is much easier to navigate now, with only slight aesthetic differences between the iOS and Android versions.
Fans can customize the experience by choosing their favorite teams to follow, which then get included in a top tab navigation across all silos within the app. It provides easy access to team's social accounts too, serving Instagram and Twitter feeds all in one spot. It definitely makes it a seamless team-to-fan experience, though the app will encourage you to install your team's official app quite often.
Design-wise it's a night and day improvement over its previous offering, but I think there's still a lot hockey fans will want improved in future updates. For example, there's currently no fantasy offering at all, which will likely become a most-wanted feature out of the gate. The Android version also doesn't offer a widget, which would be a great addition to a hockey fan's home screen.
The desktop NHL experience is changing as well, with a redesigned GameCenter interface at NHL.com, which also includes the ability to stream a top-down goalie camera throughout the entire game.
NHL GameCenter is also available on Xbox One and PlayStation 4.