My name is David Berlin and I’m responsible for the BBC iPlayer mobile application on Android.

Last year Dave Price, Head of TV & iPlayer wrote about the importance of the  Android platform and how we are focusing on three key areas to improve the BBC iPlayer experience for audiences with these devices:

As a reminder, my team have been focusing on:

1) Achieving video playback quality parity with Apple iOS devices

2) Supporting the full range of Android screen sizes, including tablet support

3) Delivering mobile video downloads to Android devices

I'd like to give you an update on how we are delivering against these goals.

How the home page should look on a ten inch Android tablet

First stop - matching video quality

We’ve been gradually improving the video quality we serve over Wi-Fi to all Android devices, and had focused on delivering comparable (to iPad/iPhone) quality media to the 75% of you on our most popular devices.  On Tuesday we flicked a switch in MediaCityUK, Manchester, which enabled those higher quality streams on all of our most popular Android phones, tablets and ‘phablets’ that can handle them.

Second stop - supporting a range of screen sizes, including tablet support

With higher quality playback achieved on the most popular Android devices, we then moved on to addressing support for a range of screen sizes.

Since the Android app launched in February 2011, tablets larger than 7.1” have been able to install BBC iPlayer from the Android Market/Google Play.  However, when you tapped on the icon on your device home screen, it launched the BBC iPlayer mobile website.

With requests from tablets now making up around 20% of total iPlayer video requests each month, and larger tablets making up the majority of those requests, we wanted to focus on supporting these devices first.  We know that more and more of you are using your tablet like a personal TV – and want the benefits that an app can bring (such as mobile downloads – coming later this year) on these devices.  That’s why, a month ago we released an update to remove the website link and delivered the BBC iPlayer app to all Android phone, tablet and phablet device sizes (more than 3,000 different models). 

Third stop - mobile downloads

Prior to delivering mobile downloads, we felt it was critical to put these two building blocks of quality playback and support for larger tablets in place.  Today we have an Android development team that is almost 3 times the size of the iOS team.  Over the past months this team has made excellent progress building the downloads feature, and with 100% of the team now entirely focused on downloads we’re looking forward to accelerating the delivery and launching asap.

We appreciate the frustration the Android community has been experiencing in the time it is taking to deliver this desired feature, but I hope this provides a little more context around the complexities involved.

I read app store comments on a daily basis and try to work out the cause of the issues that some devices on certain OSs are experiencing. I’m always interested in feedback so please share your thoughts and comments below.

David Berlin is Senior Product Manager, TV & iPlayer Mobile Applications in BBC Future Media

Comments

This entry is now closed for comments.

  • Comment number 50. Posted by eConundrum

    on 6 Aug 2013 10:58

    Just to add in terms of user experience, separation of BBC Media Player and iplayer was an awful decision. It makes it difficult to see what the point of iplayer really is without mobile download and with Media Player handling the actual playback it’s little more than an index of your iplayer website. Additionally the two applications have different compatibility issues making you senselessly able to download iplayer on devices that have issues with Media Player.

    You seriously need to rethink your whole strategy on Android; a native application is the answer addressing most of your quality and compatibility issues very quickly. Reunify iplayer and Media player so we don’t need to download two separate applications and enable mobile downloads ASAP.

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 50: 0
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 50: 0
    Loading…
  • Comment number 49. Posted by Eponymous Cowherd

    on 5 Aug 2013 20:38

    @47 Heather.

    A year!!!

    They will have been at it for almost THREE years in November. The BBC killed off the 3rd party MyPlayer app (which provided download functionality) in November 2010. Three years later they STILL haven't matched it!

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 49: 1
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 49: 0
    Loading…
  • Comment number 48. Posted by eConundrum

    on 5 Aug 2013 11:58

    Having used the 4OD app a few times now I’d say quality is good on my S3 it compares favourably to iPlayer in that respect and it’s a much more useful app as it allows me to download some of the content and watch it offline.

    There is room for improvement it often loses your place in the program when interrupted by calls and has crashed once or twice so there is room for improvement.

    How does it compare to iPlayer + BBC Media player (let’s not forget that wonderful design decision), let’s put it this way I regularly use 4OD app on my commute because it allows mobile download so 100% more useful than iPlayer for me.


    Come on BBC get your act together.

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 48: 0
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 48: 0
    Loading…
  • Comment number 47. Posted by Heather

    on 3 Aug 2013 08:03

    SO..... yesterday I was delighted to download some programmes from the 4OD app onto my Nexus 7 inch tablet and watched them on the train. Why can't the full team of the BBC working round the clock for over a year just go and ask the channel four people how to do it?

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 47: 0
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 47: 0
    Loading…
  • Comment number 46. Posted by T0M

    on 1 Aug 2013 12:38

    So when will the BBC admit to the deal signed with Apple then? That's the reason why downloads are not on Android, it's nothing to do with development targets. Was the deal something along the lines of... we will supply you with free Apple hardware to pointlessly flash around on programmes (F1 coverage with an ipad mini that never gets used) and in return you must provide a better app with exclusive download ability for iOS for the next year? How long is this silly deal for? It's not what i choose to pay my TV license for!

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 46: 0
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 46: 0
    Loading…
  • Comment number 45. Posted by eConundrum

    on 31 Jul 2013 16:10

    True that media player only exists because of the bbcs obsession withusing flash streams designed for desktop pcs with android and its silly that iplayer is real just a way of interacting with media player on android and is compatible with devices media player isnt thats absurd since iplayer is 100% useless without media player.

    Please stop flogging the dead horse and develop a cheap performant and fully featured native app for 4.0+

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 45: 0
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 45: 0
    Loading…
  • Comment number 44. Posted by eConundrum

    on 31 Jul 2013 16:04

    I agree with 40. Which somes up the bbcs android development issue perfectly.

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 44: 0
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 44: 0
    Loading…
  • Comment number 43. Posted by Freerange

    on 31 Jul 2013 03:12

    This comment was removed because it broke the house rules. Explain

  • Comment number 42. Posted by Kendall

    on 30 Jul 2013 21:09

    @pardo: an iPad Mini, or iPod touch, or even an older model used iPad is not very expensive. It's not like iOS devices are not possible for poorer people to own.

    I grew up poor myself but learned quickly that the way to stay poor was to buy cheap things often that hardly worked and had to be replaced frequently. If you pay a little more for something of a higher quality it usually lasts much longer before needing to be replaced, and works better in the meantime also. You spend less money have have something better in the bargain.

    As for the Android development taking longer, it simply takes a ton of time to make things right when so many more hardware makers are added into the mix. They are doing a really good job so far and I applaud them for giving people transparency as to what is going on.

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 42: 1
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 42: 2
    Loading…
  • Comment number 41. Posted by kingpin

    on 30 Jul 2013 16:11

    Please BBC this is a joke. Ditch the Adobe Air/Flash garbage and focus on building a quality native app for Android 4.0+.

    Also, while I'm moaning, get rid of that absurd Media Player app, which no doubt only exists because of your Air/Flash obsession. To have one app that fails to deliver may be regarded as a misfortune, to have two looks like I'm unimaginatively ripping off Oscar Wilde, but you get the point?

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 41: 2
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 41: 0
    Loading…
More comments

More Posts

Previous

Next