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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Comments

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  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 41.

    As a Mac OS user from back in the dark days of Windows 3.2 & 95 dominance I can certainly sympathise with being in a minority software platform, and I certainly whinged about it - but I didn't go around picking irrelevant stats to build my case.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 42.

    Hilarious. I'm sure it suits the fandroids' agenda to frame the BBC as an elitist foil for Apple and their "affluent" customers, in order to try and rationalise the way their chosen platform is constantly treated as a second class citizen.
    There is simply no getting around the facts, however:
    1. The most expensive part of owning a mobile phone is the contract. My O2 contract for iPhone costs just the same as your O2 contract for Samsung Galaxy S3. My phone choice does not require me to be any more affluent than an Android user.
    2. There is plenty of empirical data to show that iOS users are consumers of mobile data on an order of magnitude greater than their Android counterparts. Argue the market share toss all you like, but the biggest group of people out there who actually *use* mobile sites and apps are iPhone users. Therefore developers target the platform that will make most use of their apps.
    3. Android phones are the new feature phones. Again, iPhone users tend to make actual use of their device as a smartphone. Everyone I know with an Android phone, almost without exception, uses it to make calls, send texts, and keep a couple of games on it for their kids. That's it. None of them know where the Google Marketplace is. None of them have accounts with credit card numbers to allow them to actually buy anything.
    4. Number of iPhone models developers have to test against: 2. Number of Android phone models developers have to test against: ~100
    5. The vast majority of Android users are still running a version of the OS that is now over 2 years old, because so many handset manufacturers and/or network operators fail to provide timely updates (if at all). Most iPhone users are running the latest OS their handset will support, because Apple makes it easy and they bypass the mobile networks.
    6. bbc.co.uk is one of the most visited sites in the world. They will have a *very* clear picture of who their audience is and what platform/OS they are using. Those of you trying to argue marketshare/usage numbers with people who have that kind of statistical data to hand is highly amusing. Bonus points if you're trying to say that Windows Phone is "significant". Bravo, Sir.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 43.

    Why should iOS users have to wait while their app is delayed in order to launch alongside the Android version? Sorry but if iOS is easier to support and if its finished first, why not launch it?

    And just because more Android devices are sold doesn't mean they're used to their full extent by their owners. A vocal minority of Android owners use their devices to their full potential, but the majority of Android phones seem to be sold to people who used to buy cheap Nokias and the the most they'll do outside of phone calls and text messaging is a bit of Facebook.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 44.

    The sense of entitlement here is pretty scary. Why is everyone so angry about something that is gracefully handed to you with such care, for free?

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 45.

    By all means, update us on the uptake and usage of the app across all platforms. The moral posturing that the BBC is discriminating against non-iOS customers or that one of the largest and longest-operating broadcasters in the world is clueless about audience measurement or marketshare is hilarious.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 46.

    Reply to Campo - you say "so why do the minority of more affluent Apple-owners get the app before the more majority of financially-accessible Android-owners?" You answered your own question with the statement before; "as a publicly-funded organisation we have to prioritise the areas where we can reach the most users".

    The most users are on iPhone, not Android. I don't care how many claimed Android registrations there are, fact is none of the service providers can find them.

    You had to throw in "affluent Apple-owners" like that's a bitter pill. Your contract costs as much as mine.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 47.

    I don't get all the Android whining. As a developer I can fully understand why the iPhone version is out first. Far fewer OS versions and hardware types to test on. (_ewan_ is *really* stretching the truth to try to imply iOS is as fragmented.) Android has such a huge number of screen sizes, aspect-ratios, and resolutions .. plus many many machines on older OS's .. and I'd hate to think how the different hardware manufacturers (some tweaking the OS, some not) gives rise to quirks and performance issues.

    The official response makes it sound like the iOS and Android development has been happening in parallel anyway. So why all the complaints about bias? They're not realeasing for iOS, then *starting* on Android development as so many other companies do. And due to the earlier iOS release (and subsequent bug-fixes) the Android release will likely be less-buggy, right?

    If you want to complain about being treated like a second-class platform, the find a developer who's actually treating you that way. This one isn't.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 48.

    I'm greatly amused by the Android owners who think that because it takes longer to develop apps for the platform they use, the BBC should delay an iOS version when it's ready to make things "fair" for them.

    Developing and testing for Android takes longer thanks largely to the huge range of devices. Android owners get the advantage of choosing from multiple models – but they price they pay for that is slower development compared to iOS. You pays your money and takes your choice - but please don't expect developers to "wait or it's not fair!"

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 49.

    You'll probably find that this new app will have more iPhone than Android users too. This is because your press release gathering all the media attention about the newly developed smartphone app is only available for iPhone users. All the Android users reading it that could have downloaded now currently can't. Once the Android version is released, there will not be the same amount of news coverage about it, and the buzz and excitement of the initial release will have been lost as people wait.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 50.

    Android users need to stop whinging so much and get over the fact that it is they who are the minority web users in the smartphone world. Web stat report after web stat report consistently shows that iOS devices are *used* for browsing by a factor of 5 to 10 more visitors than Android. I can testify to this on our own website with millions of visits per year, where iOS represents 75%+ of the traffic. This, despite the smaller market share of iOS. The fact of the matter is that a substantial number of Android owners just don't use them as smartphones, probably because they had them foisted on them as an 'upgrade' to a dumbphone and probably because they don't have the data packages necessary to do so.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 51.

    Quick question: Are you planning a vidiprinter for the mobile version? Also automatically refreshing live text commentaries?

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 52.

    My word, I'd no idea that Fandroids were such a bunch of crybabies.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 53.

    Many of the Android devices being counted are the cheapest Symbian replacement phones in India and the Pacific Rim, a market that has no bearing on what happens for the BBC and probably devices that aren't even capable of what the higher class iPhone/Nexus devices can do. They have year old hardware and two year old OSs. They're crap, in other words.

    Second, Androids are in the hands of people who care nothing about looking at the BBC or anything much beyond talking on the phone. Who cares about them? While the "market share" of Android appears to be rising, the relevance of it doesn't follow. Google is advertising nearly a million Android activations per day. Where are they? I'm not seeing it and neither are the people following relevant web stats.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 54.

    To all those wondering why an iOS app was released before an Android app: I suspect it has something to do with the relative popularities of the two platforms vis-a-vis web browsing and such. If the BBC's server logs showed more Android users than iOS users I'm sure the Android app would have been a higher priority. I'm willing to wager that they don't.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 55.

    I've read through this thread, and the further down I go, the more dismayed I become at some of the comments. Software development is not easy, I'm sure the teams behind the development of these apps are working flat out to bring them to market. Version 1.0 is always going to have room for improvement so cool your jets people, in a few months time, the app will have matured a bit and will probably be very different to it's first inception.

    As for the Android vs Apple debate... Wow. "20% market share" this, and "discrimination" that. What's that got to do with anything? Spend your money on the platform you want and live and let live. The Apple vs Someone Else arguments really have to stop, aren't there better topics available for discussion?

    From a logistics point of view, it's quicker to bring an iOS app to a stable release version than it is for Android because of the vast difference in the lengths of test cycles for both platforms. That's the price that Android users pay for living outside a walled garden environment. It is what it is, so just be patient and if you can't be patient and absolutely must have that new app as soon as you've heard about it, then consider investing in a mobile platform that's easier to develop for. For Pete's sake.... Just be patient.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 56.

    Without wanting to get into a playground argument about whose smartphone OS is best*, given the BBC's inclination (rightly so, given that we all fund the organization) to cater for the broadcasting requirements of all manner of minority, including, I notice, Gaelic language speakers, then I see absolutely no reason why this could not have been released simultaneously on iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry and possibly even Symbian and WebOS too.

    On a related topic, just what exactly does this offer that the mobile website doesn't? Or is it yet another example of a separate app for the sake of it?


    (* It's Windows Phone 8, by the way.)

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 57.

    @55 sorry the argument put does not stand up. It is not the job of the taxpayer funded BBC to give Apple products primacy against a majority of mobile users. Living outside of the 'walled garden' you describe is in the real world creating a competitive market - Apple hates competition as it affects their ability to levy extraordinarily high monopoly charges on consumers for apps and other services.

    It is entirely up to Apple if they want to take this path, but not for BBC actions to help them achieve this.

    'Stable release versions' and 'test cycles' might make useful sound bites but they are irrelevant to the point that once again the BBC favours Apple and its products by launching an app only available on Apple phones.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 58.

    Yet again the argument that Android is developed second because of fragmentation begs the question why Windows Phone is not considered at all when WP8, with only a single variant, is as easy (if not easier) to build for as IOS.

    As for market share, by favouring particular platforms BBC are actually affecting the market e.g. who wants a phone that doesn't have the most popular apps?

    Lastly, for such as relatively simple app why are BBC not leading the field with platform agnostic HTML5?

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 59.

    @57 cleanlang
    But it *is* the job of the BBC to spend those same taxpayers' money on every platform known to man, just so they can avoid your childish and specious accusations of bias? Grow up.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 60.

    The app looks very nice and functional indeed. But I don't use an iOS device. So it would be nice if developed an app for Windows Phone and Windows 8. I know you have limited budget, and need to prioritize, but BBC is not like other organizations whose only objective is to make money. Support for minority platforms like Windows Phone will be a nice touch in accordance with BBC's overall policy.

 

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