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.

The new BBC Sport app

To support the amazing summer of sport in 2012 we focused on delivering a great mobile experience for big events including creating the BBC Olympics app which almost two million people in the UK downloaded.

Like the Olympics app, the Sport app is a hybrid app. It contains the same web-based content as the mobile sport website and adds extra features and functionality using native app technology.

The Sport app allows you to create quick links to your favourite sports using the standard native iOS pattern for adding, removing and re-ordering. We deliberately set out to use patterns that users recognise from others apps and we'll continue to do this in the other native features we'll add to the app over the next year or so.

The Android version still needs some more development work and testing to ensure it works on the wide range of Android devices available and will be live in the next few weeks.

You may notice that some of the links in the app such as the football team pages, stats for other sports and other sport indexes open the old BBC Sport mobile site. The next phase of the app project will update these pages and add this content fully to the app and add football teams to the quick link options.

These updates will be released in the next couple of months. The tutorial screen shown when the app is first downloaded helps explain its key features. This tutorial is always available for reference in the app's Other menu. When updates to the app containing new features are available we'll update the tutorial so that it's clear what is new.

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions

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 1.

    Good to hear that an Android version is on the way but why have iOS devices been prioritised yet again by the BBC in the release of an app? Kindle Fire as third choice is 'interesting' given the way Windows 8 devices (phone and tablet) are rapidly becoming a significant choice - Third party apps using BBC feeds and presenting a 'BBC appearance' are filling the Windows 8 gap, none with the quality one would expect from the BBC itself.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    BBC should have ideally waited and launch iphone and android app together. It is compleletely wrong to prioritize one market when there is another section of big android market. BBC should not also forget windows app. Windows platform are getting very popular.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Very bad form BBC that this has been released as an 'i' only app (even if an Android app is on the way). Could all forms of the App not have been released together? There must be millions of us out there that either can't afford Apple's prices, or just aren't daft enough to pay them - why are we always left out??

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    I'm getting really annoyed about the BBC's obsession with Apple products that only account for around 20% of the UK market.

    Every advert and plug for the radio player app keeps quoting it as a 'Smartphone App' when they actually mean 'iPhone'
    Every time a new app is launched it states the Android app will 'follow soon' If that's the case then why not wait a couple of weeks and launch both at the same time?

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    I am fed up with the BBC giving priority to iphone users, when then are 30% more android users than iphone ones. Is the BBC being paid by Iphone for this preference?

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    BBC I think you need to actually catch up on what's happening. Android is huge now. You should be launching both platforms together. A lot of people I know have switched to an Android device and your app release almost feels like discrimination!

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    Oh look! An new BBC App!

    Oh look! It only works on iDevices

    Oh look iDevices only have 20% market share (but presumably 90% within the BBC)

    Poor show BBC. For an organisation who are supposed to be platform neutral 9after all that why we don`t have proper HD on Sky, just 1440x1080), there seems to be a steady and consistent bias shown towards Apple at the expense of the other platforms.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    All the effort of creating a BBC website for mobiles and now we have an app.
    Make your mind up BBC.
    Is there a help anywhere, the video on this page only works with flash it seems as it is not displaying, so not too good for ios users.
    Be nice to have a help somewhere its a bit daunting to use at first.

    Can the radio link go the BBC iplayer radio app rather than a website.

    Otherwise looks good, will there be an ipad version? Much prefer an app than trawling through a browser for sport.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    How many times does it need to be said. Stop giving priority to either platform. Release all together and you would not be facing any critism from the majoirty of users.

    Oh and it should be added that Apples market share has fallen even further according to forecasts, showing apple will have less than 15% after xmas. So if your going for the majority it should be Android first.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    Thanks for your comments so far.

    On the Apple v Android question. It is absolutely our plan to have quality products out on both products as soon as possible. There are three main factors we had to keep in mind when lining up releases: development, testing and launch complexity.

    As the BBC Sport app is a hybrid app, based on the new Sport mobile browser site, the platform-specific development can progress in parallel, building on the core browser site. The decision to launch the core mobile browser site first (before either app) was itself to ensure that users got a quality product across as wide a range of devices as possible. The Android-specific development is very close to completion.

    Due to the huge range of Android devices, testing for that platform is more complex and therefore takes more time.

    And finally, scheduling ‘big bang’ launches, across a range of platforms, increases risk, and we want to ensure launches are as smooth as possible for users. Back in July, when we launched the Olympics app for iPhone and Android together, we saw over three times as many downloads of the iPhone version. Android continues to grow apace but this, together with the development and testing complexity, led us to the decision to phase the iOS app first.

    Features also add complexity (and risk) to launches, which is why we’ll be adding football teams, team customisation and video in the coming weeks, across all platforms, rather than at launch.

    @ Uncle Fred - From an operating system point of view the Kindle Fire is an Android device, rather than a separate class of ‘build’, so requires relatively little additional development effort.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    @ luciemclean, Sadly you and your team have been mislead by the app download numbers. The reason most users don't need to download the android app is because we have full functionality of the BBC website unlike the iOS users so they do actually need it more than us Android users hence the numbers. I did download the olympic app but found the website to be much more comprehensive hence i removed it and used the website. I will do the same with sport and I'm sure most users will too.

    The only app that is truly needed from the BBC for Android users is the iPlayer app, these should be 100% release in conjunction with feature parity across platforms (this includes Windows!). 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.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    Fair comment about the Android v. iPhone - but what about the content? If you want to 'build on the Olympics' success, I hope this will not be pandering to the football obsession that is already well served on many other commercial sites at the expense of others.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    So really it is a BBC football app. All other sports link back to the web page. There are other sports out there...

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Moan, moan, moan...that's all I ever hear from Android users.

    What a dull bunch you lot must be!

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    I cannot download the app onto my iphone 4 as it requires iOS 5 - is this right please?

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    Just a suggestion, but perhaps future investment should be put into developing good APIs for BBC Content, so even if your teams are unable to commit to other platforms, you could allow third parties access to the APIs to develop experiences. iPlayer need be the only set of apps you build yourself because of the DRM concerns.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    @hammersir Yes you'll need to upgrade your phone to at least iOS5 to be able to install the app.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    @hammersir - thanks a lot - now they'll delay the android release for a few more months while they pour all the resource into fixing a few old iphones.

    In an age when 80% of the smartphones sold today run android, it's blatant bias to always release apple first. BBC may as well run apple adverts as they do everything else in their power to promote their products.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    Lucy - I found this discussion after Ben Gallops blog was given a prime position on the BBC sport front page. As an android user it is irritating to find the phrase 'smartphone app' apparently doesn't apply to me. I can accept your comments on different releases but you can mitigate some of the complaints if you make sure the android release gets similar coverage.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    If the BBC is now only catering for the majority, presumably it'll be cancelling al its minority programmes for social minorities such as disabled people and other minority interest programmes like Sky At Night? No great viewing figures here so better dump them.
    The BBC has a brief and responsibility to support minorities because it's a public service broadcaster. It's also wrong to suppport one commercial organisation by prioritising it's products. It's not allowed to do that in it's programming so why here?
    Maybe it would like to give a discounted licence fee to non iphone users?
    Blackberry and windows users still represent a huge number of smartphone-using licence fee payers. If you're not going to support them then be honest and call this an iphone and android app - not a smartphone app.


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