BBC iPlayer Video Downloads for Android

Senior Product Manager

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

In July, I updated you on three key areas we were working through to improve the BBC iPlayer experience for audiences with Android devices. One of these was to deliver mobile video downloads to these devices.

Today, I’m pleased to announce that we are launching this feature – enabling you to download your favourite BBC TV shows for free to a range of Android devices and keep them to enjoy for up to 30 days. And, once you’ve pressed play, you can keep watching for seven more days.

The updated BBC iPlayer Android app will appear in the Google Play Store later today and it will be updated in the Amazon App Store in the coming days.

We’re launching this functionality today for a range of Android devices running Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) and Jelly Bean. This is because these devices are able to provide the appropriate level of protection for our programmes. Our figures show this will mean 70% of Android app users with compatible devices will be able to use this functionality from today – and over the coming months we will be extending this to include new Android devices as well as some older ones. We appreciate the frustration the Android community has been experiencing in the time it has taken to deliver this desired feature, and I'm very pleased that we've now been able to deliver it.

Downloading on an Android device

Due to the unique characteristics of the Android platform, we have also been able to bring you the ability to download programs while doing other things, which isn’t currently possible on iOS devices - so no need to keep the screen awake.

Following feedback, we’ve decided to default to High Quality downloads on Android tablets, due to the quality and size of screen – giving you the clearest picture. However, we always want to give you the choice to change that (as with the iOS app), so you can manually switch between Standard and High Quality downloads in the BBC iPlayer app Settings (found in the overflow menu – 3 dots or lines) to vary the download time and picture quality on phones or tablets.

We’ve also made some further improvements to the app for those Android handsets that are unfortunately not capable of the download functionality. This includes Android 4.3 support, a link to other BBC apps and addressing some known issues that will improve your overall viewing experience.

Downloading a programme on a Nexus 7

I’m really pleased that we are now able to deliver video playback quality parity with Apple iOS devices, support the full range of Android screen sizes, including tablet support and, as of today enable mobile TV download functionality to Android devices.

As I’ve discussed previously, we’re fully committed to developing fantastic services for audiences with Android devices and will be continuing to make improvements and, as ever, I thoroughly welcome your feedback.

Here's a list of devices that will support download functionality for BBC TV programmes from launch:

1) Amazon Kindle 8.9

2) Asus Nexus 7 i

3) Asus Nexus 7 ii

4) HTC One

5) LG Nexus 4

6) Samsung Galaxy S2

7) Samsung Galaxy S3

8) Samsung Galaxy S4

9) Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7"

10) Samsung Google Nexus 10

11) Sony Xperia Z (phone)

You may have noticed that despite their popularity, the Amazon Kindle Fire 7 and Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7 are not in this list. We are currently working with Amazon to try to resolve this.

Watch this space for regular updates to the above list.

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

N.B. Update 15th April 2014. Readers of this post may be interested in David's latest post announcing that video downloads have now been enabled for all recent Android devices (Ice Cream Sandwich and above)

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  • Comment number 155. Posted by David Berlin

    on 10 Oct 2013 12:25

    For the past few weeks we’ve been concentrating resource on the patch release for the BBC iPlayer Android app, which we launched yesterday in Google Play and it will be available in the Amazon App Store in a few days time. V2.0.1 brings automatic deletion of expired downloads and enhanced stability across all devices.

    Although our focus has been on getting this release out, we’ve also been able to include download support for the next tranche of popular devices:

    • Amazon Kindle Fire 7
    • Amazon Kindle Fire 7 HD
    • Samsung Galaxy Note II
    • Samsung Galaxy SIII Mini
    • Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10”

    We are continuing to tackle the list of devices in order of popularity according to BBC usage stats and UK market share. The BBC are also working with partners to attempt to add downloads and High Quality streaming support for new hero devices, which are guaranteed UK popularity, before their launch e.g. the Tesco Hudl launched with downloads on 30th September.

    This process includes conducting extensive testing of Standard and High Quality downloading and download playback, as well as whether the device can handle higher quality streams. We have found that some brand new high powered popular devices can only receive streams to a certain level, or that video downloads bugs can cause cyclical crashes and device hard resets, rendering the BBC iPlayer app useless thereafter and the device temporarily paralyzed. These are not your usual basic bugs and such severe behavior is not acceptable to the BBC. This is why we’ve adopted the strategy of whitelisting devices.

    We will continue to test further devices over the coming months for both video downloads and High Quality streaming and will be enabling more devices without the need for an app update.

    Please check here:
    http://iplayerhelp.external.bbc.co.uk/help/mobile_tablet/android_downloads_device
    for updates.

    Many thanks,

    David.

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