BBC iPlayer Radio update

Executive Product Manager

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I’m pleased to confirm that this week we released an update to our mobile apps for iOS and Android (v1.5) which has two key user benefits. Firstly we are introducing Favourites into the app, which has consistently been one of the most requested features from users since we launched. We know that many people already value having a list of their favourite programmes on the web, and to ensure that same list is available in our apps we ask you to log in to BBC iD first. This means you can add a programme via a browser on any device, and then quickly access it on your Android or iOS device via the mobile app, or vice-versa.

Secondly, we have improved the search functionality in the mobile app by remembering your previous searches so that as soon as you start to enter a term in the search box, we show you terms and programmes you searched for in the past. This means you can find content much more quickly with fewer screen taps. We are looking to introduce similar enhancements to Search on the web soon.

The upgraded BBC iPlayer Radio app: Favourites (left) and Search (right)

Now that we have Favourites we believe that the experience for radio listening is better than in the BBC iPlayer mobile app, so users will shortly notice that they will be directed to use the BBC iPlayer Radio app for all radio programmes, live or on-demand. Favourites from the BBC iPlayer mobile app will not be carried over to the iPlayer Radio app, as they are only stored locally on the device meaning migration is not achievable.

Last week we upgraded all BBC stations to the latest version of the Radioplayer console. This is the pop-out-player you get when you listen live to BBC radio stations via desktop. The new console has some significant advantages over the previous version, including the ability to more easily save your favourite stations, improved search and navigation around Radioplayer features, and the player now works on devices which don’t support Flash. Some users may have noticed that we no longer offer a “Hi” and “Lo” bandwidth option, as we found usage of the “Lo” option was extremely low (under 0.25% of streams). See the Radioplayer blog for more information on the new console.

The new Radioplayer console on desktop

On the web we have corrected a bug which was causing people who still use an old browser - Internet Explorer 8 – significant problems. However, we have reviewed the platforms we can support and decided to no longer support IE8 based on the facts that usage is very low and the cost in terms of development time is very high. These collectively mean it no longer offers good value for money. Our request and recommendation is to please upgrade to a more modern browser if you are able to, to ensure the best possible experience.

Another change is that we now direct users to more relevant category aggregations, with the aim of showing list of programmes that are currently available to listen to rather than fuller lists which contain programmes which have expired. So, on Radio 4 for example, we now link to the Comedy genre filtered by “Available now” and “A-Z”, meaning the list you see shows all Radio 4 comedy programmes you can listen to right now. We know from feedback we’ve received that this has been an issue for some users, so we’re pleased to make finding programmes by category a little easier now.

In response to feedback via our previous blog posts and email, over the coming months we’ll be looking at adding a programme A-Z link on our homepage, at how we display schedule information, and at functionality around Favourites. We read all feedback we receive, and it helps us prioritise our backlog, so please do leave a comment below or via our feedback page.

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