Learning English with your iPhone part 4: News

After last week’s fun and games, this week we’re looking at two applications which provide reading and listening practice, as well as being a valuable source of information. This week, I’m looking at news applications.

Of course, you can get free news anywhere nowadays, and newspapers are becoming less and less popular.  You could even argue that they are on the brink of extinction.  News agencies therefore have to develop new ways of delivering the news, which of course is where the iPhone comes in.  More than any other platform, the iPhone enables you to get up-to-date news whenever you want, wherever you want. 

The two apps I’ve found particularly useful are BBC News and Sky News.  Both deliver breaking news, top stories and headlines as well as features and analysis with video clips.  This last point is interesting as, and iPhone user will be familiar with this, Apple products do not support Flash software, the most common software for embedding videos on web pages.  For example, if you browse the BBC News website using the internet on your iPhone, the videos on the site will not work.  If you get the app, they do.  For this reason alone it is worth taking the time to click the download button .

So, what are the main differences between the two apps?  Well, not much really.  Both share a similar interface, with stories listed on the screen, and with articles divided into categories such as politics, sport, business and so on.  However, I have to say that I found the Sky News app easier to navigate and generally better developed than the BBC News app.  For example, the Sky app has a very clever feature which allows you to switch between a white page with black text to a black page with white text.  This is particularly useful in changing light conditions, and it’s another example of how the app appears to be better developed than its competitor.

One final feature that both apps offer is a function to watch live news on your mobile.  This is free if you connect using a 3G or Wi-Fi network, though it may cost if you connect using a standard mobile network.  You can download the Sky News app here, and the BBC News app here.  Parts 1-3 can be found on the blog here.  Remember, all of the apps in the series are free and updated constantly.  Let me know what you think!


  • on the brink of extinction - (idiom) to be in danger of dying or no longer existing
  • platform - (n.) in this context, a platform is a piece of hardware used for running software
  • to enable - (v.) to make something possible or easy
  • breaking news - (adj.+n.) news stories that have just happened or are happening at the moment
  • to support (software) - (v.) this means that software works on the machine you are using  
  • embedding - (v.) to incorporate something into another
  • interface - (n.) software designed to communicate information
  • to navigate - (v.) to find your way around a page of information

By Andy  

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