BBC News and Flipboard App for iOS

Category: Tech Today

I'm not an App whore. I get hives if I go past three pages worth of apps on my iPod Touch (Yeah, yeah even that Japanese guy next to me on my flight was wondering why I didn't have an iPhone yet). I'm happy with my 6 free dictionaries, 2 document readers, video player, Opera browser, and the occasional map and city guide when I go on a business trip. Besides, I'm perfectly happy accessing news and doing serious work on my Linux portables. However, on a business trip to Taipei, I took advantage of the free wireless all over the city and at the company and installed BBC News and Flipboard and I must say I was thoroughly impressed.

The BBC News app is an example of excellent design with easy to navigate articles, scalable videos, and well-written HTML5 code. It was just a great experience overall even on my 2nd generation iPod Touch. The images rendered fast and videos streamed well even on a messy LAN setup. Now, most readers are probably thinking it's because of the Apple iPod's performance, but part of any app's experience is due to how well developers optimize the content for small screens and approach preprocessed data. The BBC News app deserves the praise it gets from PCWorld and PCMag. After just a few days of using the app, I came to the conclusion the BBC News app is another reason why I'm such a huge fan of BBC's offerings (BBC's exceptional podcasts and 2010's Sherlock being two other compelling reasons). I know it's a conflict of interest but I'd love to see Benedict Cumberbatch's Holmes browsing the BBC app in the next season of Sherlock.

Flipboard is a more mainstream and more well-known app, particularly in the U.S. As an old school Internet user who was baptized with IE5.0 and Netscape Navigator, I have to admit it took me a few tries to get used to Flipboard's lateral and horizontal navigation - it was quite different from the BBC News app. Flipboard, however, is also exceptionally well-designed and provides a wider breadth of news sources. I can definitely imagine Holmes flipping up and down the many pages of Flipboard, going through news articles to entertainment and remembering everything he reads. Sherlock would probably use Flipboard to browse through everything from Apple's falling stock, the newest politician accused of stealing pork, to the latest Zac Efron movie. Like the BBC News app, Flipboard focuses on the text and the images on the iPod touch version. I've read reviews praising its beautiful design on the iPad, but I feel that finding a well-optimized app for the smaller iPod is more difficult to find than finding one for the luxurious real estate of the iPad.

"Hmmm. Based on this photo in Flipboard, my powers of deduction tell me that Kardashian's left boob is 17 degrees higher than her right." Screenshot from season 1, episode 3 of Sherlock (2010).

I prefer consuming media and news on the go via audio podcasts. After all, how will you enjoy the scenery, the weather, or the leggy young lady who looks like Sowelu if you're too busy with the numerous apps on your device? If I really want to browse online in public, I'd probably scrounge up enough money to buy a cup of java in a coffee shop and boot up to openSUSE or Lubuntu on my laptop. However, I do understand the attraction of having easily accessible mobile content anywhere you go. Today's generation of Internet users is extremely lucky and I envy them for having the attention span and skill to consume so much of the world in so little time. As for me, I'll pretend to be Sherlock Holmes in public, minding everything else but my mobile devices, and occasionally accessing Flipboard and BBC News for reference.  


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