Everyone loves to get updated on the latest news, whether it be from a newspaper, social networking or right from your iPad. Sky News offers a modern approach to news consumption that definitely impresses aesthetically. There are many news apps for the iPad, but Sky have produced an incredibly good looking, easy to navigate medium to browse the news.
Let’s take a closer look…
Sky News may not be available depending on where you live!
As soon as you open the app, you’re presented with a nice looking splash screen followed by the Top Stories page. This displays all the headlines organized neatly as pictures with a headline and caption, most of which take you to a video.
All the thumbnails are appropriately sized and spaced, however the design does feel slightly cluttered:
When you click on a story, a host of related articles and images fans out in a pleasant manner, making accessing related content far easier than, say, scrolling to the bottom of a page. Things such as an image gallery, similar articles and a timeline of the event spread out from the main video with an aesthetically pleasing design on the bottom representing the story at hand.
Initially, the video is too small to see, but this is quickly fixed with the full screen option in the bottom right hand corner. Most, if not all, content on the app has been optimised for the iPad.
One of my favourite things about this app is the backstory tab that appears at the bottom of the video. This shows the history of related articles in a vertical timeline. Not only does it look great, but it’s an extremely useful way to fill in the gaps if you’re new to a story, or if you just want to look at a particular article related to the event.
For certain stories, the backstory tab isn’t available, but a timeline option fans out from the video upon touching it. This does almost exactly the same as the backstory tab, so most events do have some sort of accessible timeline.
Time Goes By…
The app is configurable between 2 modes: Top Stories and Timeline. You can alternate between the options by tapping on your desired choice in the top left hand corner. The timeline mode is much simpler and easier to use than Top Stories, with a smooth linear scroll lying in the centre of the page. This mode makes it much easier to concentrate on one story as opposed to having 7 or 8 all cluttered on the same screen.
There are times above each clip, allowing you to see when exactly the story was relevant. Selecting a story still gives the same effect as on Top Stories – the related content fans out beautifully:
On the home page is a ‘live’ option that streams Sky News to your iPad as it happens. The stream is of a respectable quality with practically no delay or lag over Wi-fi, or a decent 3G signal. I found this to be extremely useful when away from home, and use this feature a lot.
Unfortunately, like many similar news feed and live streaming UK apps, live streaming is not available abroad.
The pricing of an app can be make or break for the customer; does this app’s aesthetics and superb functionality outweigh its price tag? Sky subscribers can enjoy this app free of charge, however if you’re a non-Sky customer, this app will cost you a whacking £4.99/month.
In spite of the great app features, I would be suprised if many non-Sky subscribers take-up the app. If you’re already a subscriber then it’s a no-brainer decent news app.
One problem with this app is that it’s limited to almost only video; there are no articles obvious anywhere on any of the modes. This may not appeal to the heavy newsreader that’s used to having predominantly word-based content given to them on a silver platter. It wasn’t too much of an issue for me, although I would like to see more written articles accessible from the main pages.
Another small drawback is that there are no categories as with the Sky News website, although the design in comparison to the website is far superior. You can find events related to the story, not to a category. This approach makes for easier browsing, but may not be a good feature for people interested in a particular area of the news, such as finance or education.
The app has a great design and operates smoothly. Amongst the news apps available for iPad, Sky News is definitely one of the most stylish and functional ways to consume news. With only a few minor drawbacks, this app may be the most graphically definitive news app for a while – but it comes at a price that I suspect few non-subcribers will be willing to pay.