Introducing BBC iPlayer Radio

Monday 8 October 2012, 14:11

Andrew Scott Andrew Scott Head of Radio&Music

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Hello, I am Andrew Scott, Head of Radio and Music and Audience Facing Services here at BBC Future Media. Today we announced the launch of BBC iPlayer Radio, previously known as the Radio and Music Product, and I'm delighted to tell you more about this new dedicated home for BBC radio across PC, mobile and tablet.

With iPlayer Radio, BBC radio is available whenever and wherever you want it, thanks to:

  • A new smartphone app, enabling you to wake up to your favourite BBC station and listen on the move
  • New radio station websites across PC, mobile and tablet, offering easy multi-platform access to the full breadth of BBC content
  • Improved catch-up and access to on-demand content, clips, videos and downloads

We have been working on this release for a while now, going through a number of iterations from our first release on bbc.co.uk/radio about a year ago and our beta this summer, bringing in more features each time. Our Executive Product Manager, Chris Kimber, has been posting updates throughout the process as the product has matured.

Let's take a look at some of the things that are new:

New smartphone app



We are really excited about the smartphone application. We've worked hard on the user experience, and believe that we've built an application which people will find fun and easy to use, and which we hope is just a great way of listening to the radio. The key features include:

  • A touchscreen dial that beautifully shows the breadth of our radio, allowing easy access to all 57 BBC radio stations and their live streams.
  • An alarm clock to let you wake up to your favourite BBC Radio station.
  • From programme pages you can enjoy catch-up content, video clips, access to our podcasts, and for music shows the details of the tracklist.
  • You can set programmes alerts to tell you when specific favourite shows are on.
  • You can favourite tracks and share them with friends via email and Twitter.

We designed and built native applications for both Android and iOS, intending to release them both at the same time. Today we've released the iOS version, Android will come soon. Learn more about the work we've been doing to support Android here. Until the Android app is released, Android users can continue to use iPlayer Radio on the mobile web. As part of this project we've also made live streams available for iOS devices for all stations. We are also keen to make the on-demand content available for the World Service, Nations and English Local radio stations and have a project in planning to do the necessary infrastructure work.

Radio station homepages

Screenshot from iPlayer Radio Homepage for BBC Radio 6 Music

The new BBC Radio 6 Music Homepage

We have launched new homepages for nearly all of our stations, which beautifully reflect the personality of the networks and make it easy for our users to listen live and on-demand. These sites have been exposed to the public as a beta for most of the summer. We've spent that time carefully measuring and working with our editorial partners under Mark Friend to analyse how our users engage with these sites.

We've also updated the mobile websites, usage of which has been increasing steadily: now mobile represents about 18% of our overall usage, with events like Radio 1 Hackney Weekend seeing over 30% of their traffic from mobile devices.

Now we have a platform which allows flexibility and personality for each network, but also encourages users to move between the different network sites. I look forward to building even more on this platform.

New BBC radio homepage

Our new product landing page at www.bbc.co.uk/radio is a deliberately bold move to radical simplicity. We carefully researched the way people use our sites and determined that most visitors to /radio are very task-focused - in other words, they know what they want to achieve and just want the simplest way of achieving that.

So we took these user needs and made them as simple as possible on this page.

  • Stations takes me through to the network homepage for each station where I can see what is on live and listen live with a single click.
  • Categories takes me through to the radio categories where I can browse for content.
  • Schedule lets me go through to the full schedule, or the detailed page for the current and next programmes.
  • Favourites lets me quickly find my favourite shows, a feature that we are looking to build out further over time to make this page more and more valuable for our users.

These features are so important that we have also made them available on every page of the product through our navigation bar. We are really excited to launch this simple entry point into the amazing richness of the BBC's radio content, and we are looking forward to making this ever more useful for our audiences.

This page is also our first foray into responsive design, where a single response works across all devices. This approach has been pioneered by other parts of the BBC (iPlayer, News) and brings benefits to the users, such as consistent experiences, as well as the development team, in terms of fewer lines of code to write, test and maintain. We plan to explore this further as we move forward, but are really pleased with this first step.

Summary

Altogether we are delighted to be delivering the first version of BBC iPlayer Radio, and look forward to your thoughts and comments so that we can continue to make the product better and better.

Andrew Scott is Head of Radio and Music & Audience Facing Services, BBC Future Media

The new desktop BBC iPlayer Radio sites will roll out over of the course of this afternoon, and we anticipate the iPhone app will be available to download for free from the App Store by Tuesday morning.

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Comments

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    Comment number 41.

    Basicly everything will be chocolate fireguard useless (BBC Media Player), or iPhone only until at least mid 2013 is what I'm getting here; iPlayer FAQ for instance says sometime 2013 for mobile downloads on Android.

    There are good media apps with wider compatability on Android but unfortunatley the BBC want to carry on with flash streams to keep costs down so we are stuck with substandard service.

    I don't know why I bother reading these blog posts it's always about the BBC's latest iPhone development, though that's seldom mentioned up front. From a BBC perspecitve I feel that iPhone is the only mobile platform that get's their best efforts.

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    Comment number 42.

    If it takes longer to get to what you want it is clear that the design is bad. I disagree with the many complaints about the "fashionable" design, because it is not fashionable, it is bad, kitschy, done not by designers, but by developers. There is a reason for actual graphic designers - they are VISUAL, unlike developers.

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    Comment number 43.

    The name iPlayer is apt, because you only fully support Apple devices.

    Please do not use Air as that forces the screen to remain on the whole time, which is bad.

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    Comment number 44.

    It's sad, but it comes as absolutely no suprise that us Android users are again second-class citizens as opposed to those magical individuals who own fruity iDevices from Cupertino, and even when Android ownership outstrips that of iOS.

    If it turns out that your new Android solution (when it's finally released) turns out to be based on Adobe Air I will be seriously annoyed. Until then, I'll stick with TuneIn Pro - it may not have the most appealing UI, but at least it can play the Radio 4 AAC stream without having to keep the screen alive.

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    Comment number 45.

    This news proves to me that 'media types' think we all have an iPhone, when it's got less than a quarter of the market share (a similar number to Blackberry, which isn't going to be supported)

    I'd like to know the reason for the change as it's not really explained. When I use the current mobile iPlayer site on my phone I'm only interested in listen to the radio. If I wanted pictures, clips and videos I'd be watching TV!
    Nothing will change that no matter how many times you tell us how 'beautifully' it looks!

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    Comment number 46.

    Why is this another 'iPlayer'? I thought the idea was to have 'TV & iPlayer' and 'Radio & Music' sections to the site? The TV and Radio iPlayers have completely different structures (you listen to radio shows in the show pages, this has been removed from TV in the excellent GEL rebrands) so why the same name?

    Also, does this mean we'll have a GEL iPlayer soon? And I've made this point before, but wouldn't Microsoft pay the BBC to develop apps for Windows Phone? Is this allowed?

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    Comment number 47.

    A couple of points of feedback:

    * Why, after such an extensive period of testing a new Radio homepage (that acted more like a dashboard to all activity across BBC Radio) has the site launched with something radically different? I admire the simplicity, but it seems odd that this design wasn't trailed as part of that beta process.

    * There's a visual disconnect between the individual radio home pages and the programme/schedule pages they link to. Are there any plans to make these different pages work more seamlessly together?

    * The dark bar above each station (with Stations/Categories/Programmes/Schedule/Favourites links) looks at first to be navigation that is consistent across all BBC Radio sites, so I was surprised when I clicked on these items to be shown only items relevant to each station.

    * The radio station sites are only responsive to a point; will these be updated to be more fluid, so that they can work across a variety of different screen sizes?

    * BUG: On the main radio homepage, the pan-BBC navigation isn't responsive. Compare with that used on the BBC TV websites, i.e. http://bbc.co.uk/bbcone/

  • rate this
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    Comment number 48.

    "The alarm clock needs to keep your device 'awake'"

    Wow. What a waste of time. How many man hours were spent adding this feature? And as you can only queue up live radio (rather than a playlist of iPlayer streams) why anyone would use this over one of the many Alarm apps is beyond me.

    On the plus side, the "wheel" is very slick and a nice addition.

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    Comment number 49.

    The addition of podcast downloads direct from the app is also welcome, but a single list of every podcast avaialble is pointless.

    You have all the category/station/etc metadata, so, surely, the podcasts should be more "browsable"?!

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    Comment number 50.

    Excellent! A new iPlayer for radio that's designed for "PC, mobile and tablet."

    The new website interface is bright and clear and makes it easier to find local radio programmes. Except that, when I try and access Listen Again programmes on my smartphone, I get to the correct page, but then when I try and stream the programme I get the message "The media selector request failed."

    OK, so, the webpage doesn't work on my phone, but I guess with the iPlayer for radio "designed for PC, tablet and mobile", this function will be delivered via an App. Oh, no Android App.

    So, a shiny new radio player "designed for mobile" that doesn't actually play radio programmes on my shiny new Galaxy S3. That's pretty poor, I'm afraid.

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    Comment number 51.

    i prefer to hear my streams in winamp...i can get a 128aac+ stream for Radio 2 but not local radio in this player?

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    Comment number 52.

    Just tried the new app on iphone, nice
    Love the wheel
    But on the ipad its, poor and when turned landscape, its flashing the listings on and off at me, so a nice bug there.
    Hope there is a dedicated ipad app soon, running x2 is ok for now.

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    Comment number 53.

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    Comment number 54.

    Great idea. Sound is good, layout is very nice.

    Once suggestion :

    Take a look at 'Black Clock' (free) app and build something as nice into your app, as an alternative 'screen' for the nightstand (or for when I'm cooking and need a nice big clock so that I don't feed my family overcooked mush).

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    Comment number 55.

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    Comment number 56.

    Why are you hiding the bit rate on the audio is it because the audio quality is poor and you are embarrassed? The service I require is still absent? I prefer to use winam,p..why is this not available? I live in the uk!!!!!

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    Comment number 57.

    I really dislike this set up.
    I LOVED being able to see what was playing on each radio station and if I see something I like, with one click I got my radio show. It's also nice to keep track of what is playing on other stations while listening to one show.

    Now I have to keep clicking on each station and go on their webpage to get an idea what is playing.


    Worse design ever.

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    Comment number 58.

    It's very useful to have all radio stations in one place, but not when you've got to skim through two sets of favourites - one on the current radio iplayer and one on the new version launched today. Surely it wouldn't have been too difficult for the boffins at the BBC to enable a seamless transfer of favourites?

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    Comment number 59.

    Hi, I tried downloading the Player for PC from Softpedia... following the links given on BBC and got a file called: BBCRadioService.gg Regretfully my PC (Windows 7) does not recognise this file, so.... crash landing from the get go... What to do?

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    Comment number 60.

    Well what a lot of 'entitled' comments from people who probably aren’t even paying their licence fees. The app is designed to make the huge wealth of BBC radio content more discoverable and in this way it succeeds. - although I can't find a way of favouriting... Oversight?
    And for the legions of poor beleaguered Android users, there's a reason your app is late. The tools and API's to create an an Android app just aren’t up to scratch, so workarounds are having to be used. You may bang on & on about your market share, but unless you're living under a rock, you'd know that developing an app that works consistently on all of the squillions of Android devices out there is a complete nightmare. Most phones are still using Gingerbread - a 2 year OS, because carriers and manufacturers only care about you buying the latest product, and have no incentive to support upgrades of old devices. And 'tho it may be the 'dominant platform' (due to it’s race to the bottom and hence the phones being practically given away), usage stats of app usage, web browsing, wifi use etc show that Android's share is tiny compared to iOS. Android is a testing ground for devs to throw crap at the wall & see what sticks. So complain all you want, there are good reasons why developers don't develop for your platform first, or ever. My advice is get an iphone, old or new, or an iPod Touch, or an iPad and access the apps you need from there. Most devices support the most recent OS, and will run all the apps. Hell my iPhone could run iPlayer in mobile safari - even a video stream's audio running in the background - more than three years ago. If you wonder why your apps are missing, lacking functionality, or are just plain crap, look at the bigger picture, stop moaning and get on board where the momentum really is, not where you think it is.

 

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