Blackbag - iPhone App Review

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BLACKBAG - (Free)

Version - 1.01

REVIEW - "Medical news from many sources"

Are you a healthcare professional or even just someone who really likes to know what's going on in the medical field? Maybe your family has a history of heart problems, or allergies and so you'd like the latest information about them? If so, this app may be for you!

BLACKBAG is a well-compiled list of news information about all kinds of fields related to the medical field. One thing that you should keep in mind as you are reading is that this app is published by a pharmaceutical company, but I have not noticed any extreme bias in the articles I have read.

When you first open up this app, you are taken to the "News Feeds" screen where you need to add "subscriptions," using the button in the upper right corner, before you can really do anything else. Once you have selected 1 or more topics that you are interested in and press the "Done" button, you will be taken back to the "News Feeds" screen and all of the articles and media related to the topics you chose are downloaded.


One thing to note is that not only are the article titles downloaded, but also a brief summary and thumbnail picture (if there is a picture), so if you are not on a 3G or Wifi connection this might take a little while. I would not recommend setting this program up on an Edge connection. The good news is that it only takes this long the first time because after that it just downloads the "new" stories.

Once all of the information is downloaded you can easily browse it by selecting a topic on the "News Feed" screen, or by pressing the "Media" button at the bottom to see what "Media" is available for all of the topics that you chose. All of the information in this app is sorted by date, which is shown as headers (i.e. you see a header with the date above all of the news for today, then all of the news for yesterday, etc.).

Selecting one of the news stories will quickly bring up the entire article, or the article's summary, as well as any pictures that might be associated with that particular story. One thing to note is that many of the articles in this program are incomplete, and may also require a subscription to the particular site where the story is from. Most of the articles give you plenty of information to read though.


The "Media" tab works just as you would expect. When you select the "Media" button at the bottom you are taken to a list of "media" related to the topics that you have chosen. Clicking on any of the videos will play them. The quality for these videos is very high over wifi and 3G, and all of the videos I tried downloaded quickly without any problems. Trying to view any of these videos over the Edge network; however, does not work. It not only takes a long time to get started, it will take forever to download enough of the video to get anything out of it.

The video information in this app is professionally produced and straight to the point, but it is not exactly attention grabbing. Every video starts pretty much the same way, with the same background music, and I found myself getting bored with them very quickly. I personally would rather read the news than to watch it in the format that it is presented in these videos.

There are not really very many settings for this app, and the ones that are there are pretty self explanatory. All in all, this app does what it sets out to do, and it manages to do it without making anything to complex or difficult to use. If you are really interested in medical news, and especially if you want to keep up with a specific field, this is an application that you really need to check out!

- David H.

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