Mobile Application Review – BBC News App
December 3rd | 2010 By
One to One Insight’s Sam Tilson takes a look at the updated version of the BBC News App, giving his thoughts on the Apps functionality and overall user experience.
What is it?
The BBC News app tested on an iPhone 3GS (also available for the iPod Touch and iPad).
The app is designed to provide the user with the latest news through up to date articles and additional content such as streamed video.
Where and how to Download
Free to download from the Apple ‘App Store’.
On the whole the BBC News App is useful and provides current news through a simple interface.
So what does it do?
The BBC News app supplies fairly basic but clear information. The ‘home’ page presents a list of categories which each has a number of stories illustrated horizontally by a thumbnail image and headline. By selecting a story the next page presents the article in a clear format and will generally include an image or a video link at the top, similarly to the full site. Additional features in the application include article scrolling and a refresh which uses swipe gestures to update the page.
Fig.1 and 2: ‘Home’ page with categories and headlines and refresh tool
The article pages also have further functionality and include tools to share the page via Email, Facebook or Twitter, and also have an option to increase/decrease the font size.
Fig.3: An article page
The ability to personalise/customise the layout of the app allows the user to choose which categories will be displayed and in what order. The ‘Edit’ button takes the user to an intuitive screen where they can drag and drop the bars into desired positions.
Fig.4: ‘Edit’ page
Finally, the user can also view a live streaming of the BBC News channel by selecting the ‘Live’ button at the top of the home page.
Fig 5: Live streaming of BBC News channel
What doesn’t it do?
From the home page it is not initially clear that the user has to swipe to view further stories in each category, but this is a minor issue, as once it is realised it is simple to use.
If the screen is rotated on to a side view the navigational structure of the site changes completely which may frustrate some users as they will not be able to view the ‘More’ section and the way in which the user selects articles to read changes. From the horizontal view it also becomes difficult to select different categories and the scroll function also becomes difficult to use.
Fig. 6: Application in landscape view
Some users may also expect to be able to select the ‘Latest’ headline and be taken to further information in an article page; however this is only a text description and cannot be selected.
Within the live stream there is a button that will restart the video at the point where the user began watching. The icon has the number ‘30’ which may confuse users and could be misinterpreted to mean 30 minutes previously etc.
Occasionally the application will freeze, particularly when loading new content e.g. if the user scrolls to view more stories the loading screen will show and is sometimes jerky
What others have to say?
On the whole the application has been received reasonable feedback. The negative reviews on the ‘App Store’ have generally referred to ‘bugs’ and ‘crashes’ from software updates, problems with the speed of transitions and the ‘sluggish’ scrolling. Many of the negative reviews also state that the Sky News app is better. The positive comments state that it is ‘handy’ and provides the latest news without issues.
Although efficiently they can access information. In order to provide a useful application it is important that, as well as having engaging content and an intuitive interface, it should be quick and seamless in updating and refreshing.