Despite concerns expressed by commercial rivals, the BBC’s first iPhone and iPad apps were released last week, with BBC News the first release.
Publishers have been looking to mobile apps as another way to monetise their content, and they will be concerned about the BBC apps, though the Beeb justifies the apps with the assessment that the trend is towards free apps, and that its own entry into the market therefore wouldn’t be so significant.
I’ve been trying out the new BBC apps…
There are some excellent news apps for the iPhone; especially those from The Guardian and FT.com, so how does the BBC News iPhone app compare?
The main page shows the top stories in each section, and users can scroll left or right to see more, or down the page for more sections.
Unlike some other news apps, you can flip the phone round and view in landscape view, which also provides a text summary of each article as you scroll.
The homepage can also be personalised, so that users can remove some sections they are less interested in, and move their favourite sections further up the page:
There is also the option of viewing the BBC News channel live, if your connection can handle it:
Articles are well laid out and easy to read. Text can be resized if necessary, and they can also be read in landscape mode.
Users can also swipe to scroll sideways between articles, though the addition of links to related articles, and back to the news section would have been useful.
BBC iPad app
The iPad version of the app is the same, only bigger. It is useful to be able to read articles without leaving the homepage, though iPad users wouldn’t may prefer to access the main website from the device instead.
The standard version of the BBC website looks good and works well on iPad, the only issue being that the Flash video content won’t work on an iPad:
BBC News app is well-designed and delivers a decent user experience, though it doesn’t beat some of the news apps that are already available. You may have to pay for The Guardian app, but you do get functionality like offline reading, and the ability to search the Guardian website for articles.