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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? 

Homepage

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: 

Video

There is also the option of viewing the BBC News channel live, if your connection can handle it:

Articles

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: 

Conclusion

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. 

Graham Charlton

Published 26 July, 2010 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

2565 more posts from this author

Comments (9)

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Swithinbanking

The lack of offline reading functionality is an oversight, and this should be part of the first update package. I've also experienced high crash rates, which will fast relegate it behind the Guardian app - two plus points for the commercial providers from this first iteration. That said, it scores highly on ease-of-use and aesthetic appeal.

about 6 years ago

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Bangalow Accommodation

excellent app - good to see a big corporation like bbc get an iphone application built as another platform to view their content

about 6 years ago

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Andrew Liddell, Ecommerce Business MGR at Personal

Would be good to include a Apple Itunes link or even a icon for the app your reviewing? 

about 6 years ago

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Andrew Liddell, Ecommerce Business MGR at Personal

Hi Graham

Not sure if this out of the scope of this review but i have found an amazing feature which im not sure is in any of the other 'NEWS' apps?  

'Send Image' and 'Send Story' - What a great idea!!!!!!

http://img31.imageshack.us/img31/7784/img0845.png

about 6 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

Yes, I saw it but didn't mention it. I think the Sky News app also has this feature. I wonder how many people use it...

about 6 years ago

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Andrew Liddell, Ecommerce Business MGR at Personal

Not many - which is why its at the bottom, but with smartphone technology advancing on a monthly basis this feature will no doubt be used on local and maybe national breaking story as the quality of images/footage will be high enough for broadcast. The only thing stopping this is the whole issue of 'credibility' BBC use a three source validity model where three credible and approved sources have to report the same story through the approved channels. 

about 6 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

I suppose it helps to fill up all the time on 24 hour news channels ;)

about 6 years ago

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Ryan Shelton

Thanks for the review. It's interesting to read your comments so we can make the app better. Offline mode does work – the only thing that doesn't load when offline are images and video – you might have an older version of the app on your iPhone/iPad. News articles are (or at least should be) cached to your device. We're working hard with the BBC and Mobile IQ to make this the best news app out there!

about 6 years ago

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David Slaymaker

I agree with all the above - only one problem - 90% of the time the video content starts to load - doesn't play ant the screen jumps back to the main page! Am I alone here?

almost 6 years ago

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