Sky News for iPhone review

BSkyB has built a powerful broadcasting empire over the last 20 years, with Sky News a flagship channel available to households with satellite, cable and Freeview. For ex-pats and holidaymakers it also regularly turns up across the world on satellite and cable networks offering a mix of UK and international news, business, sport, weather and showbiz gossip.

Sky News for iPhone and iPod touch was launched in May and is regularly promoted on the channel itself as a way to get your fix of news on the go. Especially formatted for a small screen, it proves less is more with a simple intuitive interface that is a pleasure to read. The main front page offers news stories in chronological order with 'breaking news' highlighting those reports you might find of particular interest. However what constitutes 'breaking news' is debateable. Cristiano Ronaldo record-breaking £80m planned move to Real Madrid is certainly a talking point, but the arrest of one-time singer Mark Morrison might have some scratching heads.

Top stories, UK news, sport, business news, world news, showbiz and strange, those quirky stories that don't fit elsewhere, are categories highlighted at the top of the screen. Stories with a red forward arrow signify video content is also available, which plays YouTube style full screen. Content is clear and brief, normally a minute or two, you can also access all available video content from a dedicated button at the bottom of the screen.

Rather like those free newspapers handed out at stations and in the street, Sky News for iPhone lacks in-depth coverage, with no major archive or the ability to search news without opening Safari. Some stories also appear a little dated, which is something the broadcaster needs to address to keep the service relevant. You can also send your own eyewitness news stories and photos directly to Sky via a simple 'Send Your Report' form, which in principal is a great idea.

Not Eyes Closed News from Peter Serafinowicz but Sky News video in full flight.

Unlike the ITN News application, you can't read news reports you have downloaded when offline. Discreet ads also appear, which for some will be an annoyance, but as the service is free, few should really have reason to complain. Sky also offers SMS news alerts via the application, although these cost 25p each and could prove costly dependent on what is deemed 'breaking news.'

It would be great to see a dedicated Sky Sports News application, building on the success of Sky News, with more in-depth coverage of football, cricket, rugby and the like. Showing sporting video highlights would be a bonus although this may not be an option due to copyright restrictions. Sports reports currently appear to be restricted to talking heads with comment from players and managers.

OUR VERDICT

An attractive and clean interface helped by a readable font and limited use of images makes the free Sky News iPhone application a keeper. Video streaming is a bonus, which we hope will expand as the service develops. A great start then from Sky, clear concise news in bite sized pieces, which proves easy to digest, although those dedicated news junkies with big appetites may need to fire up Safari to satisfy their hunger.

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