Sky News launched an iPhone app this week, which provides the latest headlines, as well as encouraging users to send in their own reports and images.

The app, which is currently top of the free download charts in the App Store, also has a strong focus on video content. I’ve been seeing how it compares to rival ITN’s version.

It’s a nice looking app, simple to use, and fast to load even without a wi-fi connection. Headlines are well presented, and stories are well laid out and easy to read: 

Sky News iPhone homepage

While some mobile news sites and apps can make the text too small on articles, this is just the right size to make it readable without the need for too much scrolling.

This is also the first news app I have seen that provides text links within articles to further information. Some will take you to the main Sky News site, which can be difficult to navigate on a mobile, while others take you to external sources, such as the link to Microsoft’s Twitter profile in this article:

Sky News app outbound links

The only drawback is that, if you click on a link in the middle of reading an article, to get back to the part you were reading you have to close the Safari browser, open up the app again and navigate back to the story, which is a bit of a chore.

One slight problem with this is that you cannot tell where the link will go to when you click it, as you would on a PC or laptop by hovering your mouse over it.

Where video is available, the photos on the articles provide a link to a short report on whatever subject it is, so you have the option of either reading the story or watching the video: 

Sky News iPhone

While some video on iPhone requires a wi-fi connection to get the best out if it, the Sky News videos worked well on a reasonable 3G signal, meaning that it can be used effectively on the move:

Sky News iPhone app video player

Other features include an SMS alerts service, which, along with advertising from Bacardi, is how Sky intends to monetise the app. Users can get breaking news alerts on various subjects for up to 25p per message.

Sky is also encouraging citizen journalism with this app, and has provide a form for users to attach photos and send in their own news reports:

Sky has produced a very good app here, making it appealing to look at, as well as accessible and easy to use. Compared to ITN’s iPhone app, the presentation of articles is better, while it has a greater range of video content.

Both suffer from a limited amount of content on the apps, which in both cases is limited to up to ten stories in three or four categories. if you want more variety or detail, then mobile sites such as FT Mobile and The Guardian may be a better bet.