Sky News iPad App ReviewWritten by John Thompson on April 2, 2011 · Filed under Review, Software
Of all the things that make their way on to the App Store, a new iPad app delivering your daily dose of news is unlikely to catch much attention. After all there’s only so much you can do with the news, but Sky News has managed to come out with something not only capable of giving you the day’s stories, but something that feels refreshingly different.
There are too many companies willing to follow the latest trends without sticking their necks out for something different, something that can change the way you interact with an application. Admittedly, when you first open the Sky News application your first reaction may be one of slight bemusement. Windows Phone 7 users will feel right at home with the modular, tile-like, design of the application, although it took me a little longer to feel truly comfortable in finding my way around, with a completely different layout to the Sky News iPhone app.
The top headline will be presented on the top of the screen, alongside other news pieces which cascade below the screen. You can scroll down for more stories to view or read, and tap on a piece to watch the video, or get more information. When you tap on a topic, the iPad app really starts to show its worth, with additional content spreading itself around the video that’s currently playing. You can interact with any of the content surrounding the video without stopping the stream; the video is simply moved to the corner of the screen whilst you view any related information, and the audio track remains in full force so you don’t miss out on the story.
If you’re reading about a much discussed topic, such as the Alternative Vote or the Libyan conflict, you’ll find no shortage of commentary and information to keep you going for hours.
If you don’t want to view the top stories and would rather see the day’s events as they unfold, you can view news via the timeline. As you would expect, this orders all of the most recent stories in chronological order, stretching back over 24 hours. If you just want to see the latest news, then this is a great way to get a snapshot of what’s happening around you; all of the stories are updated, with the timeline being refreshed each time new content is pushed on to the application. What this results in is a live stream of news updates constantly refreshing itself so you don’t have to watch the live stream loop over and over for an hour before a new story breaks.
What particularly impresses me about the application is that everything is seamless and automated. You don’t have to manually refresh anything – this happens automatically when you’re using the app – and when a new breaking news story unfolds, you’re alerted with a familiar news bar at the bottom of the screen. This is great for convenience, as you can see the latest news unfold before you on the screen, although if you’re going to be spending a long time in the application, you may want to be on a local WiFi network rather than use your cellular data. With the app constantly refreshing itself in the background, it will be pinging the news server quite a few times to check for any stories. You may also see a slight drain on battery life, as you would with any application transmitting data. I accidentally left the app open on my iPad overnight, and saw a 12% decrease in battery the following morning, so watch out for that.
If you would rather get a comprehensive discussion of the news, you can also watch the Sky News channel live in the app, which is a really great feature to see. Far too many news applications simply re-organise their existing web content for their application, but Sky has well and truly embraced what the iPad has to offer, and jumped in to the world of tablets with both feet.
I have no hesitation in saying that the Sky News iPad App is one of the best – if not the best – news applications you will find on any tablet device, so if you want to check it out for yourself you can currently download it for free from the App Store – just be sure to grab it soon as they have stated that in future it may move to being a paid app if you’re not a Sky TV subscriber.