The BBC Sport iPhone app

Monday 7 January 2013, 07:10

Lucie Mclean Lucie Mclean Executive Product Manager

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I'm Lucie McLean, executive product manager for BBC Sport's mobile services - including the new BBC Sport app which was launched today.

The iPhone version of the app is now available from iTunes in the UK and the Android version will follow within the next few weeks.

The main features of the BBC Sport app are explained by the head of Sport Interactive Ben Gallop over on the Sports Editors' Blog.

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Watch the BBC Sport app tutorial

We learned a huge amount from developing, designing and testing the Olympic app and that has helped us hugely while developing the Sport app.

For example we know some Android users were disappointed that the Olympics app wasn't available on larger Android phones and smaller tablets. One of the benefits of building the app around a responsive web product was that it was much easier to build an app that scales to serve larger devices.

As a result the sport app will be available for Android devices with a screen width of seven inches or smaller. We'll also roll it out to the Kindle Fire family too once we've thoroughly tested the app on these devices.

We'll also be adding video to both the iPhone and Android versions of the app in the coming months. The BBC's solution for delivering video to Android devices was recently outlined in a blog post by my colleagues Chris Yanda.

We are developing the app for Apple and Android devices which currently account for approximately 75% of the UK smartphone market. We haven't ruled out developing the app for other platforms but building apps is expensive and as a publicly-funded organisation we have to prioritise the areas where we can reach the most users at the lowest costs.

Users with tablets and other mobile devices will be able to access both the mobile and desktop versions of the BBC Sport website and we will continue to use feedback and usage data to help us prioritise future features and versions.

Over the coming weeks there will be further posts on this blog by key people in the technical and design teams about how they built the app for iPhone and Android devices. Until then we hope you enjoy using this first release of the Sport app and we're keen to hear what other features you'd find useful in future updates.

The BBC Sport app is available for iPhones and iPod touch devices on iOS 5.0 in the UK.

Search for 'BBC Sport' in the iTunes App Store.

Lucie Mclean is the executive product manager for BBC Sport, Future Media.

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  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    Good job. When would the app become available for other regions? I'm sure BBC's coverage is not just in the UK.

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    I have a Android tablet, Nexus 7, and hope you never release an Android app. These whiny jokers do not deserve it. I apologise for their disgraceful manners. They are making Android fans look worse than Apple fans.

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    @ Michael There's an international version coming in the next few weeks.

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    BBC yet again going after the Apple users. I would have no problems with this decision if BBC can justify it by publishing figures for the numbers of people accessing its services from iOS vs Android. I am pretty user Android users will at least be double of iOS if not more. But of course transparency is not BBC's strong point (as we have seen in numerous other cases going on).

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    @Robinho02 We're keen to hear what features people would like us to add to the app. Videprinter and auto-refresh are really good examples and they'll be on the list for consideration when we prioritise what we're going to build in future updates.

    @wicked games You'll find relevant stats about downloads of the Olympics app in my response appearing as comment 10.

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    Lucie - The vidiprinter especially would be awesome when at the football on a Saturday afternoon, at half time and full time. One thing I noticed this Saturday was the mobile site at half time was much, much faster loading than I've ever seen before. Don't know if that's something you've done or just better 3G signal but it was great, despite over 9,000 in the ground.

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    wicked games - according to any Google lookup (which would certainly show Android in the most favorable light), Android is indeed selling more devices but at this time, any two Android devices create less web traffic than a single iOS device. That's not the device's fault, it speaks to the collective users' web habits. Most Android users traded in their dumb phones for whatever was being sold and couldn't give a hoot about web access. If you didn't do that, you're in the minority.

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    The BBC, like a lot of other media outlets, is truly madly deeply in love with Apple and its hugely upsetting, they are encouraging users to pour money into one of the most unethical companies in IT!

    Android is the biggest and should have been first but why no mention of Windows phone! if the BBC will only support either the coolest or most popular then how are other platforms ever going to get a foot hold? its unfair & the BBC should be ashamed of itself!

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    Whilst I acknowledge that there are more hurdles when developing for Android (even considering the myth that iOS is a one device OS), I think you might find that the reason that the BBC sees less downloads from Android than iOS is that the majority of Android apps you release are second class and not worth downloading.

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    Geoff - thanks for the great laugh begging for Windows Phone inclusion while calling Apple unethical. You've already forgotten what Microsoft is capable of or perhaps never knew.

    In fact, you're apparently not aware of what Google is capable of. Their entire business model relies on the erosion of your privacy. They can and do sell data concerning your location, your browsing habits, the location of who you are near, what your emails say and anything else they wish to sell to advertisers. They even make most of that available to any developer, nefarious or not. Apple rejected demands from Google for access to that information in exchange for the continued use of Google Maps shipped with iOS. Apple also rejected access to private user data from book publishers in order to protect their users. How unethical of them to withhold your private information from ravenous marketers.

    Besides, BBC is following the actual user base (iOS) and not your favorite things (anything but Apple).

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    Divebus, I've been a developer for 20+ years and am well aware of how unethical Microsoft have and can be, in recent years they have produced some real junk and had completely lost the plot with mobile OS's, that said I do think that Windows Phone is very very good, it does have a long way to go to catch up the iOS and Android user base though and the quality of the apps available is currently pretty poor.

    You have missed my point though and are doing what all Apple fan boys do & the opposite of what you accuse me of, you cannot take anything that criticises Apple.

    All I am trying to do is to pose the question as to whether the BBC, as a publically funded body, should favour one over another especially one that produces (in my opinion at least) overpriced, over hyped and unethically produced products, it should be a level playing field.

    Tis just my opinion that’s all.

  • Comment number 72.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    @71 Geoff
    Care to provide some actual evidence that Apple's products are overpriced and unethically produced? (or, at least, *more* overpriced and *less* ethically produced than any other electronics manufacturer) I'll leave the hype question aside, because that's purely subjective. There's good evidence that Apple is leading the way in improving the working conditions for people in its supply chain. They were the first, and still the only, consumer electronics company in the Fair Labour Association, for example (I tried posting a link, the moderators removed it for some reason - Google it). When Samsung or HTC or anyone else is doing the number of audits and publishing the level of detailed reports that Apple is, then maybe you can come back and legitimately bitch about their ethics.

    You keep making fatuous accusations of bias and bleating on about what a publicly funded body should do, without ever trying to see things from the view of that same publicly funded body. The BBC has finite resources, and so has to respond to who their users actually are, rather than who you might wish them to be in some alternate bizarro universe. These apps cost a lot of to produce, and if the BBC was spending huge amounts of money on apps that only a relatively tiny number of users were ever going to use, they would get roundly criticised for it, and rightly so.

    Once again: this is *not* about market share, this is about usage levels. 3 x more iPhone users download the apps than Android users. I doubt WinPhone even moves the needle. These are the facts.

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    For anyone concerned, BBC News published an interview with the BBC's head of iPlayer about the supposed "disparity" between iOS and Android.

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    @cleanlang .."Apple hates competition as it affects their ability to levy extraordinarily high monopoly charges on consumers for apps and other services." Huh? What high charges are there for apps? When the Apps Store first debuted, Apple sent a very clear message through the first apps publicly demoed that $5 and $10 was going to be what these things should cost. Not $50 or more, as traditionally was the case with software. ..and within a year most apps were $1. One freaking dollar. Yeah, my wallets really hurting from that.

    And they weren't letting the carriers hold back OS updates, so my phone was getting updated for two and a half *years*. For *free*. (How many Android users get that without knowing how to root?) ..Then iMessage came out, allowing us to bypass the exorbitant carrier SMS charges. Yeah, I'm super-poor now.

    My Nokia, that I had before the iPhone, had an *expensive* USB cable that allowed me to get at txt-messages and my contacts-list via super-crappy software (and serial-to-usb bridge drivers. ugh.) .. installed from *two* CD's (one specific to the cable, one specific to the phone) .. all other data had to go via the carrier and their crazy prices. I just left most of my photos on the Nokia. ..With my iPhone I could get everything off the iPhone, have it backed-up on my PC .. download via my PC and push data to the phone .. Vodafone didn't get an extra cent from me.

    And when tethering came out, I got it on Vodafone NZ right away. No extra cost. If anyone was overcharging anyone it was the carriers .. when they finally offered it. (Yes, I'm looking at you AT&T)

    And these days I just run off a prepay SIM. Most data pulled-down through wi-fi at no extra cost to me, and some 3G data if I need it. Still the same iPhone 3G. Still with strong battery-life. Still runs beautifully, if a bit slow compared to todays phones. (Home-button is a little twitchy, but I can live with that.)

    I'd be happy to criticize Apple if I was overcharged anywhere. Maybe I missed it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    Geoff - Apple is making a lot of things I don't want anymore. Working in the television industry, I've seen them screw up one thing after another, sabotaging their own lead in so many places. I can absolutely take criticism of Apple as I'm one of their vocal plaintiffs.

    That said, I also can't allow sweeping criticisms which aren't true. The factories which make Apple products are the same ones making Android products, so that criticism rings hollow. Apple is more proactive about repairing poor working situations at vendors than most anyone else. It's more likely that your Android phone was made under worse conditions than anything made by Apple.

    I'm glad to see you've added the "opinion" modifier to your distaste for Apple products. I wouldn't mind if they were cheaper myself, but I've seen many Apple computers outlast several PCs. Apple doesn't cater to people who accept junkyard class equipment, so they try not to ship things of that description.

    There are many copycat products masquerading as crudely inferior shadows of Apple products claiming to be the same thing. Android was one of them but that's gotten much better (if you leave out the gaping personal data collection going on). Apple hardware is built like a big Swiss watch while most of the counterfeit knockoffs or competitive PCs are cheap, creaky plastic or look like scrap metal. There's a cost associated with that but many people have an appreciation for it. I'd still want Apple products to cost less but I'd have to be willing to throw away some core quality expectations with the alternatives

    In the case of BBC, they're just looking at where the most traffic goes and are building applications to satisfy the traffic demand. Why build for the minority of actual users before the majority? Market share apparently has little impact on who is actually coming to the BBC site, so their decisions on priorities are valid. It's not about favoritism, it's about what's possible to do and Android is still a bit of a dung heap.

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    "In the case of BBC, they're just looking at where the most traffic goes and are building applications to satisfy the traffic demand. Why build for the minority of actual users before the majority?"

    It's been the BBC's job to do that since they first started transmitting radio signals when virtually no-one had a radio. Besides which, the BBC have been strongly favouring iOS for a long time; it's hardly a shock that iOS users are more enthusiastic about using the results. I have a good few Android devices and none of them have (for example) the iPlayer app on them, because the Android iPlayer is crap.

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.


    Many thanks for commenting. Please do remember to keep your points on topic though. This is a post about the new BBC Sport App and not a general discussion on the merits and/or ethics of Apple etc.


    Eliza Kessler
    Content producer
    BBC Internet blog

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    > When it comes to the BBC though as we are funding you you should be prepared to accept the risk and keep your major stakeholders happy if this means releasing all together so be it.

    So what you're proposing is to take whatever time is required to test a few iOS devices, and rush the myriad of Android devices through testing in the same amount of time resulting in each individual Android device only getting a fraction of the time required for proper testing.

    So you wouldn't complain at all if Android versions were found to contain showstopper bugs as a result? You wouldn't come here posting "Oh typical BBC releasing bug-free iOS versions and bug-ridden Android versions"?

    Releasing on iOS first has nothing to do with any kind of preference towards Apple devices, any kind of contempt towards Android devices, any kind of conspiracy or any of the other weird and wonderful suggestions that have been put forward. It's just common sense: testing more devices takes longer than testing fewer devices.

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    It's been released on iOS first because Android is an inferior OS and cannot handle the technology needed.


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