Sky News for iPad hands-on

Sky News has launched a dedicated iPad app that will let you get the most of the 24 hour news channel when you are away from a TV.

Open up the free app and you’ll notice that it looks very different from your average catch up news broadcasting app with some nifty features to entice you to make it a desktop favourite.

There are three main ways of accessing content – Timeline, Top Stories, or Live.

Timeline, as it suggests, will give you a timeline of the channels news content over the last 24 hours allowing you to scroll left to see what you might have missed since you last checked-in.

It’s a novel and interesting way to see the news snippets that have gone before – we watched the paper review from this morning for example, which in 3.46 gave us a great overview of the days big stories.

Once you've selected a story you can then view the video full screen and even boot it out to an AirPlay friendly device (Apple TV and the like) so you can watch it on big screen if you’re set up to do so.

Next is Top Stories. This is Sky News editorial telling you what’s big or hot on the channel right now. Videos are arranged in size of importance and you can scroll down the page to reveal more. It’s not an endless list, but when we played with the app there were still plenty to watch.

To give some sense of interactivity the those images are constantly refreshing – every 20 seconds or so – although this seems to be more of a screen saver approach rather than juggling the stories around. We presume it will allow Sky to update the Top Stories, when a top story really does break.

Once you’ve selected the video you want to watch you’re taken through to a second page where the video is presented in a hub with different elements and extras presented around it. That might be an interactive graph, an article from the company’s website or a “touchable image” to help illustrate the point. There’s also a feature called “Back Story” which will show you previously connected stories to the story you’ve chosen – again helpful if you’re following a story and feel you might have missed something.

Live is as you would expect – a live stream of the Sky News channel although it’s buffered so you can rewind back around a minute before you were started watching and up to 1.5-hours if you’ve been watching for a while, or pause the action – again handy if you’ve just missed the beginning of a news segment or need to go back to a story you’ve seen. The live stream is a simulcast so you get the adverts and all.

We’ve also noticed that regardless of where you are in the app (aside from the live streaming element) ticker tape flash messages appear at the bottom of the app giving you breaking news.

The app works on both Wi-Fi and 3G although it’s likely to crucify your 3G data package in doing so.

Sky has said that subscribers will get it as part of their package, however everyone else will pay a monthly fee.