Opinion on the coverage of the recent Egyptian turmoil by mainstream American news outlets has been mixed, leaving many U.S. news consumers looking for alternative news sources. Al Jazeera, the 24-hour English news channel based in the Middle East, isn't widely accessible to viewers in the U.S. Only cable providers in Ohio and Vermont carry the network, but the channel has been receiving consistent praise for its coverage of the events, making its free app, Al Jazeera English Live, a smart option for news consumers looking for a comprehensive look at worldwide affairs. Compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, Al Jazeera English Live includes a live feed of the channel and text articles from Al Jazeera's website.
Video quality streaming over both Wi-Fi and 3G was outstanding and crystal-clear, which was surprising, considering this is a live feed. Audio didn't perform as consistently — during one segment sound was choppy, cutting out almost every other word over 3G. A segment later, the audio was perfectly fine. On Wi-Fi, I experienced a few blips, which occasionally caused the video to get out of sync, but a quick tap of "done" and a relaunch of the video remedied the issue. Video launch itself is extremely quick, too. Users without an unlimited data plan should be prudent with usage — developers estimate the app draws more than 40 MB of data in an hour.
Al Jazeera English Live offers a quality perspective on news, and makes this app a must-download for anyone with an interest in actual news.