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iPlayer Beta Round-Up

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Nick Reynolds Nick Reynolds | 18:02 UK time, Friday, 27 June 2008

Just in case you hadn't noticed, the beta of the new version of the BBC iPlayer is here.

Help and frequently asked questions for the beta are here.

As well as leaving comments on the Internet Blog you can always go to the iPlayer message board.

Anthony Rose has in-depth detail about the thinking behind the beta, while Mark Friend outlines improvements in listening quality for radio. James Cridland gives even more detail on codecs and bitrates (and James relaxes enough on his personal blog to say he likes the beta). Ian Forrester highlights the RSS feeds on Backstage. The promotional video is on this post from Erik Huggers.

There's plenty of feedback on various blogs [Technorati search | Google Blogs search].

baseball.jpgWhen you're in the middle of a launch of a major BBC product, it's sometimes hard to keep perspective. But a blogger will always provide some. In this case, it's John Dowdell in San Francisco:

Two significant projects hit the web this week. Both were played pretty low-key, but I suspect their longterm significance will be greater.

(One project is the iPlayer beta. The other is "the premiere destination for following live baseball on the Internet".)

Photo from B Tal on Flickr. Nick Reynolds is editor, BBC Internet Blog


  • Comment number 1.

    I've read about these RSS feeds, but when I look at the iPlayer Beta I can not find them.

    Has anybody spotted any of the feeds in the wild?

  • Comment number 2.

    I tested the beta version on my ipod touch, but still no Radio iplayer option... is this going to happen any time soon?

  • Comment number 3.

    For the radio programmes that are available as podcasts, why isn't there any indication that a podcast is available or the ability to download the podcast MP3? Take Radio 4's Money Box for example - absolutely no indication that a podcast is available.

    While I'm on the subject of Money Box - the "Go to the Money Box website" link doesn't actually go to the Money Box website. Instead it takes me to Money Box's entry /programmes. Strangely, the/programmes entry doesn't contain a link to the Money Box website either.

  • Comment number 4.

    drillfork - I've been told that there have been some technical difficulties with the RSS feeds so they have been withdrawn for the moment.

    Nick Reynolds (editor, BBC Internet blog)

  • Comment number 5.

    @ maethorechannen (#3)

    I work on the BBC's podcast service, so I can answer this.

    In short, we're working on it. Integrating audio podcasts with BBC iPlayer is high on the list of things to do, but getting radio (live and on-demand) represented in there had to come first.

    Subscribing to a podcast or downloading a DRM-free mp3 file is a very different experience to downloading a television programme from iPlayer, so it's importance to us that the different activities don't become confusing. For now, you'll continue to find all podcasts from the BBC at bbc.co.uk/podcasts.

    Thanks for your comments about Money Box - I'll pass those on to the /programmes team.

  • Comment number 6.

    One fairly major caveat; the new iPlayer, like the old one, reboots the BT Home Hub router every time it's used on a MacBook. This is true in Firefox 2.0 and 3.0 as well as Safari 3.1, with the latest Home Hub firmware.

    If radio moves permanently to the new Flash-based player - as it appears to be Flash that causes the reboots - then I won't have the option to move back to the Real-based Listen Again that I'm currently using.

    Is this a live issue at either the BBC or BT? I've seen it referred to on blogs at both places, but with no hint of a resolution, and have reported the problem myself.

  • Comment number 7.

    I have had a go at the new iPlayer beta page and I have to say "I'm not sure I like it".

    The TV and Radio highlights are useless unless they can be configured, I don't ever want to watch Eastenders or The Apprentice or Top Gear or lots of other stuff that someone at auntie thinks is a highlight, I want to be able to choose my own.

    There's a lot of stuff crammed onto each page and no way for me to select what I'm interested in, for example, I don't have kids; CBBC and CBeebies stuff is wasted space, I should be able to deselect it. Radio 1 has been a no-go zone for me since Abba broke up (sob!). And I swear, I'll top myself before I willingly listen to either Chris Evans or Jonathon Ross.

    Why is it that the most important bits sit just on the border of the screen? I page up and they are cropped at the bottom, I page down and they are cropped at the top! (This is a problem in all sorts of places not just the BBC). I always think that it's better if this sort of stuff will sit in a screen without having to scroll at all.

    Better still, perhaps these widgets for "Yesterday" "TV Highlights" "Sport" "News" etc could sit on panels similar to the BBC home page. Each user could customise what they wanted and where they wanted it, their very own iPlayer portal.

    The page you get to if you click More on the Yesterday panel is weird. Every time you change channel, it resets the date range to "All" and you have to reselect a date. Also, there is no indication as to how long a program will remain available as you mouse-over the image.

    The "Text Only" option is appalling. "Text Only" does not mean just list everything in a huge font, that's an accessibility option. Surely you should be able to come with layout that is crisp and informative without gigabytes of graphics.

    I could go on, but I may be accused of whining, finally however...whine...whine...Please can we keep the old one.

  • Comment number 8.

    I think the iplayer beta with radio looks nice online, but when I try to access it via my ipod touch, I get the old version, not the beta version. Any ideas why I can't navigate to the beta version on my ipod touch?

    Also, how far down the road before BBC sport is included, so I can listen to Mark Church and Surrey cricket on my touch?

    I live in the U.S., by the way.


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