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      25.07.2013 15:55
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      6 Comments

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      Technically fantastic app from BBC news

      ===I like life===

      The world is full of horrible people doing horrible things. If I believed in hell, I'd say that mostly the world was going there in a rather stylish handbag with a designer label attached. It might even be wearing a matching pair of high heels at the time. Fabulous! At the same time, there are always good and interesting things happening and occasionally it's nice to hear about them. As such I occasionally take a look through "the news" to see if there's anything uplifting happening. Rather than trawling online since I'm rarely at a computer with decent internet speeds these days, I mostly use the BBC news app.

      ===Getting the app===

      The app is free in the Google Play store and can be found by searching for "BBC news". It'll be the first one on the top of the list; the icon is a red square with a white BBC news logo in the middle of it. More than a million people have downloaded it so far and at the time of writing only 8210 have rated it, with its average coming in at 4.2 stars out of 5. Once downloaded the icon will appear on your desktop labelled as "BBC news" so there's really no mistaking it for anything else.

      ===Honestly??===

      So, first things first, occasionally I don't like BBC news much. My opinion is that any reporting on religious and gay issues are biased and a lot of the times its reporting runs along the lines of scaremongering, "what ifs", padding out stories with inane facts and twisted figures while its science reporting tends to only scratch the surface. You'll have to forgive me if I don't provide specific examples, I tend not to log every single thing I read on the off chance I'll review it later. This means that I still do use other places to get my news from. Not to say that they aren't occasionally alright for news, but they definitely aren't the be-all and end-all of news for me. They aren't as bad as the Daily Fail or The Sun, but they aren't as impartial on all of their reporting as I would prefer. So instantly, I'll be knocking a star off for the occasional one sided content and poor use of numbers. Off to a flying start.

      ===The Looks===

      When you tap the app you'll be brought to the main screen which consists of a red top bar with the BBC logo in it. On the right hand of this bar you'll see three little buttons: "Refresh", "Live" and "Edit". Refresh will do exactly that, making sure the news you are seeing is up to date. Tapping live will start streaming video straight to your device. Edit is where you control what news you want to appear in the feed.

      Just under this red bar is a grey bar with "Latest" written in it that cycles through the latest headlines in text as they happen. Below that is where the news you want to see will be laid out for you.

      ===Choose your news===

      The best place to start is with the Edit button. Tapping on this takes you to a list of categories (Such as world, UK, Scotland, Technology, politics etc) which you can highlight, reorder (by dragging the category where you want it to be) or deselect. The only thing you cannot change is the "Top Stories" option which is a default for the programme and will always appear first on your list of categories.

      Once you've chosen what type of stories you want to see, hit ok and you'll be taken back to the main screen. Starting with "Top Stories" each story will have a picture with a little headline under it. If you swipe from right to left, you'll see that there are more stories under the category. Tapping on the picture will take you to a screen that will show you the full report in text. The list that you were scrolling through before you tapped on the story will remain at the same point you were at so you don't need to scroll all the way back to the story you were on, but all other categories will reset themselves back to the start of the list. You may notice that if a story fits more than one category then it will appear more than once but it's usually quite easy to spot the repetition due to the photos that come with each story being the same no matter what category it is listed under.

      ===Other ways to navigate===

      If you prefer you can tap into the first story of the category you are looking at and instead of going back, you can swipe the story to the left or the right and it will take you to the next story in line under the heading you are looking at. There's a small marker at the top of each story made from small black squares to show you where you are in the list. The story you are looking at is represented by the red square.

      ===Ways to share===

      If you get really excited or annoyed about a story, you may feel the need to share it with friends. This app makes this really easy. You can copy the text of the story by holding your finger down on the screen. The top bar of the screen will change to show you the highlight all, copy and paste options and you'll see two moveable pointers that allow you to highlight the part of the text you want to copy.

      If you can't be bothered with all that faffing, you can simply hit the share button in the top bar when reading any story and then you can choose what apps (such as facebook, twitter, or messaging apps) that you want to share it to. You'll be taken into that app with a link to the story pre-populated in whatever box it goes in for the app in question, ready to hit send.

      ===Make the news===

      The app serves as not just a way to read the news. If you've been a bit of a rubber-necker at the scene of some breaking news, having the app gives you the facility to send information and pictures to the BBC directly and make them aware of the breaking news that you've witnessed. Simply click the share option on one of your pictures and you'll see the BBC news app is in the list. It will bring up a little form for you to fill out to tell them a little bit about what is happening and then off it goes. Your photos could then be used as part of the news, assuming your story is valid and worthy of their attention. I'm not sure I like this option myself as I feel it may encourage people to stand around and take photos in really bad situations or generally become quite intrusive into otherwise private moments, but I guess that's all part of being a news (hungry) agency.

      ===Smooth News===

      I have to hand it to the app, it's incredibly easy to use. The navigation is smooth and I've never had it crash or slow down on me. Looking at it purely on operation the app is fantastic with no navigation or speed issues that I can find at all. Sharing works brilliantly too. Full thumbs up from the operational side of things.

      ===The Verdict===

      As I already stated I'm taking a star off based on my personal views of the BBC's news content which is an integral part of the app that can't really be separated out from it. That being said, it's still a very user friendly app and it can give a good general overview of what's going on at a glance. I'd not want to use it as my only source of news, but operation wise it's definitely up there with the best. So that's four stars out of five from me and a recommendation on the proviso that you also have a look around at other sources to get a better overview.

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