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BBC iPlayer apps, coming soon to Android and iPad

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Daniel Danker Daniel Danker | 16:15 UK time, Tuesday, 8 February 2011

There's been a lot of speculation over the last 24 hours about BBC iPlayer apps for mobile, so I wanted to clarify our plans.

BBC iplayer app on an ipad

BBC iPlayer app on an iPad

As Erik Huggers announced at Mobile World Congress last year, apps are a big part of our plans to make BBC Online more easily accessible on mobile devices. The BBC News app has been a success for us since launching last year and BBC iPlayer will be next off the production line. These apps are coming at a time when we're really beginning to see massive growth of people using BBC iPlayer on mobile devices. Over Christmas, growth in mobile use of BBC iPlayer outpaced PC growth by more than 2-to-1, and BBC iPlayer growth on tablets outpaced PCs by more than 20-to-1. We're just applying the finishing touches to the apps as we speak, and all things being well we plan to have Android and iPad apps in stores by the end of the week.

Having stuck our toe in the water last year with the iPad (initially, we quickly repurposed our big screen version), this new native app is a significant improvement on the existing experience and it's great to be on the Android platform too. Our intention is to be on as many devices and platforms as possible.

Here are the key features on Android and iPad:

  • Watch live TV and listen to radio (not previously widely available on mobile devices)
  • Access the BBC's full catalogue of catch-up programmes; seven-days' TV and radio on demand as well as series stacking (as you get on the web)
  • A simple and intuitive design with high picture quality and personalised favourites (making the most of the touch-screen UI, and a popular feature on the website)
So this is about getting the basics right, simple apps that makes best use of the portable touch-screen experience. We'll be looking to build in more features throughout the year.

For iPad it's straightforward, but for technical reasons we can't bring the app to every single Android device. To download and use the app you'll need a device that uses Android version 2.2 and has Adobe Flash 10.1 Player installed. Our Flash streams need a powerful mobile phone processor and a Wi-Fi connection to ensure a smooth viewing experience, which means that only newer, more powerful Android 2.2 devices connected via Wi-Fi can support the Flash 10.1 streaming experience.

If you have an older version of the Android platform, you may be able to upgrade, so please check with your device manufacturer and/or mobile network provider for information about Android system updates. We'll make an official announcement when the apps are live, but we will be interested in any feedback.

Daniel Danker is the General Manager of Future Media & Technology

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Will this be rolled out for iPhone and iPod touch, too?

  • Comment number 2.

    What has happened to the BBC Sport app that was initially announced at the same time as the BBC News app (seemingly ages ago)?

  • Comment number 3.

    Does the iPad app use the standard iOS video controls to play video (so it will work on iOS 4.3 to stream programmes to Apple TV)?

  • Comment number 4.

    Awesome news, but I find the restriction to WiFi odd, given my Nokia N900 plays fine over 3G using nothing more complicated than the Flash v9 plug-in in it's (FireFox based) browser. I've used this to watch BBC red button coverage of Formula 1 practice sessions on the train on Friday mornings, for instance. Sure, the video is a little jerky, but the audio is rock solid, which is *exactly* what I expect, given the circumstances.

    Surely it would make more sense for the app (or the user) to decide on the bandwidth available, and if even the lowest quality stream won't work, then fail (or better yet, warn your doing your best but it wont be up to par), rather than assuming (apparently falsely) that only WiFi is good enough. I'd be interested to know why the blanket ban is in place...

  • Comment number 5.

    So these are still streaming only apps not supporting downloads for off line viewing? Seems fairly pointless given that the web site supports exactly the same devices you're offering an app for.

    Is this really anything that couldn't be done directly through the web?

  • Comment number 6.

    Any idea when the BBC News app will be appearing on Android phones?

  • Comment number 7.

    And another thought - why is Android tied to using Flash while the ipad version isn't? Is there a reason for imposing a non-native video format on one but not the other?

  • Comment number 8.

    Interesting that iPad is being supported despite it having a relatively small installed base and less than ideal display for watching 16:9 video.

    What is the reasoning behind not supporting iPhone?

  • Comment number 9.

    How about having download capability? This is when I could see using this the most - e.g. on a train. Otherwise, if I'm connected via Wifi more often than not I've got a big screen too and would watch on that instead...

  • Comment number 10.

    Will it be availlable for the iPhone? Or can we expect video airplay support through safari when iOS 2.3 comes out?

  • Comment number 11.

    After such a long wait and no iPhone support? There is also no ability to download shows for later viewing. This is such an anti-climax.

  • Comment number 12.

    As others above, I'm curious about why the Android version seems to be aimed at all Android deviced while the iOS version is iPad only. Why not iPhone and iPod? Or is that just a mistake in the blog?

  • Comment number 13.

    Offline viewing is the most important requirement for an iplayer app, in my view. As people have pointed out you can use the web interface to watch so using up valuable memory on a phone for an app that does the same thing essentially is not very useful!

    Having an app that can download a programme for you when in a wifi environment for later viewing (on a train, etc. like you can do with the desktop app on a laptop) would be far more advantageous.

    (something we had last year in myplayer until that functionality was lost!)

  • Comment number 14.

    Thanks for a huge let down BBC. Why Android 2.2? Why flash?

    There have been loads of unofficial iPlayer apps that didn't need either so why do you? Like someone else mentioned, your releasing iOS apps that don't/can't use flash so why does the Android app?

  • Comment number 15.

    In addition to my previous post I would also like to ask why have you made Wi-Fi a requirement? I have no problem streaming video to my phone on 3G/3.5G on Vodafone.

  • Comment number 16.

    for technical reasons we can't bring the app to every single Android device
    ---
    I'm sorry, but that's a deliberate untruth and you know it. There's no technical reason the earlier Android devices couldn't have an iPlayer app, as was clearly demonstrated when someone else wrote one. The reason for requiring 2.2 is your insistence on using Flash as a half-arsed, utterly broken, and completely pointless attempt at DRM. Not 'technical' at all.

  • Comment number 17.

    Really looking forward to installing this on my Galaxy Tab. Would love the ability to download or buffer programs so i can watch while on a plane.
    Will that be available?
    Cheers.

  • Comment number 18.

    Forgive me if I don't get too excited. An app which replicates what my mobile browser can already do, it appears. When can we expect a download facility as per the reprimanded "myplayer" app?

  • Comment number 19.

    We've been promised Android support before by the BBC (http://goo.gl/axkfl%29 so, no offence, I'll believe it when I see it!

  • Comment number 20.

    Just to aid the conversation a little here is a link to David Madden's post from last year on iPlayer on Android. I quote:

    "We could have enabled the BBC iPlayer on mobile website on all video enabled phones without any restrictions or exceptions. This would have maximized our reach, but would have resulted in a very poor quality experience on many phones as video playback capabilities and web browser rendering vary across devices. Some users would have had a good experience while others suffered a sub-optimal service with features not working and poor video playback quality."

    Thanks

  • Comment number 21.

    A little disappointed with this tbh.

    Locked down on WIFI only, so its not 100% mobile, I have no issues streaming on 3G.
    No iPhone Support? I see the iPhone more of a mobile device than the iPad by far.

  • Comment number 22.

    I was about to say exactly what _Ewan_ did, but he beat me to it. There's no flash on the iPad, so why do we need it on Android?

    If you were honest enough to say that it was to make copying more difficult to keep rights holders happy, I think we would all have a lot more respect for you. Don't fob us off with phoney technical arguments.

  • Comment number 23.

    I have mplayer in my phone, the application on which you let your lawyers lose because a one man band could provide a better service than all your development team. I can only imagine that was the only way to avoid further embarrassement.

    So now I hold my Android 2.1 phone and I am wondering why mplayer was far more capable on it than the application you are releasing officially is in newer phones?

    So you are yet again siding with your chums in the production companies and do zilch to empower the people forced to pay your salaries.

    Thanks for nothing BBC, please let us know when you are prepared to work for the benefit of the licence fee payer....

  • Comment number 24.

    This is great news that you're finally getting somewhere, but it seems odd that you don't have 3G/HSDPA functionality, and that you've restricted yourselves to Flash 10 compatibility, striking older devices out of the equation. That really should be sorted.

  • Comment number 25.

    Very disappointed.
    Has it really taken over a year to make what is essentially a website in an app?
    No download features, no iPhone version.
    Really, what is the point compared to the web version you can access through safari?

  • Comment number 26.

    As others have said, why use flash when you could support all Android devices with mp4 streams. beebplayer and myplayer worked great, shame they got pulled.

  • Comment number 27.

    Disappointed that you feel the need to rely on Flash for one platform when the other doesn't support it, and unofficial apps have no problem with streaming iPlayer content today without Flash 10.1, even over 3G.

    If this is the Corporation's attitude then long may Beebplayer live on!

  • Comment number 28.

    Any chance of a Windows Phone 7 App for either iPlayer or BBC News?

  • Comment number 29.

    Awesome news, but is there going to be a pay-per-view or subscription option for those of us outside the UK?

  • Comment number 30.

    I agree with WelshBluebird1, one year and all that's happened is they've turned a web app into a native web app interface, and pulled iPhone support, a complete waste of time and money.

  • Comment number 31.

    The BBC's approach - non-flash on iOS but flash-only on Android - makes no sense, viewed neutrally. And the obfuscation and refusal to answer directly the "why" question is insulting.

    Similarly, there is clearly more to the 3G vs WiFi issue than is being admitted: again, do you think we are all idiots?

  • Comment number 32.

    The best part of a year ago another developer had an app capable of downloading iPlayer content to iPhones for playback when out of WiFi range, but was blocked from releasing it. And now after all this time you aren't releasing the the iOS app for the phone, and the iPad version won't do any more than the website via the iPad.

    In the meantime other apps will continue to give me what you won't i.e. the ability to listen to BBC radio shows I'm paying for, when *and where* I want to listen to them.

    I think you're missing the point with all of this.
    I think you're missing the point.

  • Comment number 33.

    The stated object of this plan was to bring iPlayer to smart phones, perhaps it isn't entirely clear to the development team that the iPad isn't a phone.

  • Comment number 34.

    Only 1 positive comment so far. It does seem that it is political reasons holding things back than technical ones... Shame as iplayer is so good on a PC

  • Comment number 35.

    I'm really continuously disappointed in the BBC. I wish you would just admit what the rest of us already know; that you HATE Android, and indeed anything Open Source in general, because you can't control it.
    Seeing as we've already had Beebplayer, MyPlayer, and accessing the normal iPlayer web site over 3G (by selecting the non-mobile user agent option in the Android browser), there is absolutely ZERO reason why you couldn't actually give us Android users what we all wanted. Namely, an app that works over 3G which uses MP4 streams, the same streams that both the iPhone AND Android can use. You keep banging on about quality (the reason you're choosing Flash+Wifi), but NO ONE CARES. All we want to do is watch some telly while we're on the move. What is the point of creating an app for a MOBILE platform which needs WIFI to actually do anything?

    Luckily, this being Android, some bright spark will hack the .apk and make it work over 3G regardless. Me? I'll stick to MyPlayer and TVCatchup....

  • Comment number 36.

    First of all congratulations for planning to put out the official Andriod iPlayer - well overdue but most welcome. The iPlayer on the other platforms is a great addition to the BBC's output. However, it's pretty poor that it won't be running on Andriod 2.1.This may say more about the limited development skills in the BBC's team (or contractors) to create high-performance optimised code (which is indeed an art). Relying on extra procesing power in the future is no substitute for creating an optimised product from the outset as this gives more creative possibilities in the future. The 'management' wrap about gving people the 'best' experience doesn't ring true. Looks like something being developed down to a price and under duress with a hint of 'Auntie knows best'. Yes, the earlier platforms may not be as performant but that shouldn't preclude users being able to make their *own* decisions as to whether it will work well enough for them (abeit with caveats on its likely performance) - and the development team doing their bit to make it work as well as it could. Upgrade and backward compatability is an area where many software providers get it wrong; in general Apple have been very careful on this which has given them a significant market advantage imho. This in contrast to certain Android vendors who have failed (miserably) to provide an upgrade path from their Android 2.1 offerings to version 2.2 - making a switch back to Apple more attractive. This means that some people under contract will not be able to move up anytime soon. The question is is the BBC Android iPlayer going to be a class leading product or will it be slow and bloated (such that it wouldn't fit into the remaining phone memory on many Android 2.1 phones anyway). I'm hoping it will be good product into the future. Good luck with the launch.

  • Comment number 37.

    A mobile app that you cant use while being mobile because you cant use it over 3G. Utterly pointless.

    I pay my telecom provider an extra £22.50 pm to have a large bucket of data and use how i like, yet im not able to use it with our beloved beeb. For shame.

  • Comment number 38.

    So is there any reason why there is no Iphone version of the app last time i check all of them had WiFi and the iphone 4 more RAM than the ipad. The biggest issue i have is there still a lack of the BBC sports app plus a bbc sports website that is still using only flash for all live streaming events. You shown over Wifi that you can stream video live (see bbc news app) so why can't they offer live sport which is already shown on your website (via wifi only)

  • Comment number 39.

    "Our Flash streams need a powerful mobile phone processor and a Wi-Fi connection to ensure a smooth viewing experience"

    This simply isn't true otherwise how did I manage to use the MyPlayer app on my old Android phone? The need for Flash is simply for DRM, at least be honest.

  • Comment number 40.

    *shrug*

    Looks like the people making decisions are missing the point. Again.

    iPlayer for a portable platform needs to be, well portable. Download when you're at home/work/Starbucks/wherever. Watch on your phone or tablet on the trian home. Or sat in the doctor's waiting room. Or outside on a nice summer day. (shiny reflective screens notwithstanding)

    Downloadable content is what people want. Maybe not what everybody wants, but a significant amount of people.
    Make content downloadable on a decent portable platform and people will favour that over the alternatives. Otherwise.... well, people want to watch offline. And they will. Make a legit alternative or forever be seen as arrogant control-freaks.

  • Comment number 41.

    As per usual the BBC shows it's blatant Apple favouritism by supplying native MP4 video to the iDevices which are perfectly playable on Android devices. I'm running Android 2.3 on my HTC Hero (so no Flash but a standards compliant HTML5 browser with H.264 support) which won't be able run this new app.

    Stop using "technical reasons" as a fig leaf for the real reason. You regard all Android owners as potential media pirates but Apple users as trusted enough to display native MP4 streams.

  • Comment number 42.

    Can I just make people aware again of David Madden's previous post which covers some of the points raised.

    jedininja666:

    "You keep banging on about quality (the reason you're choosing Flash+Wifi), but NO ONE CARES."

    You may not care about quality but the BBC does. That's why we're trying to get a high quality experience on as many devices as possible rather than a poor quality one that might cover all devices. If the BBC gave you something that worked poorly on your chosen device I suggest you might be unhappy.

    Thanks

  • Comment number 43.

    "If the BBC gave you something that worked poorly on your chosen device I suggest you might be unhappy"
    I suggest that if the alternative was nothing, and missing that show you wanted to see, you might be pleasantly surprised. As I said, I get non-ideal experience over 3G already using the main web site, but, ya know what, that's *OK*, and I think most people would get that (with maybe a minor 'warning' on the UI to help out). I don't expect it to work in a tunnel on a train, and don't think many others would either.

  • Comment number 44.

    This has been possible on Android for years using an app called myPlayer.

    However the BBC recently made the author disable the ability to show BBC content for some reason. Shame, as it was free and worked brilliantly, even on old versions of Android.

  • Comment number 45.

    Sadly, this announcement means yet another reason for me never to buy a Motorola ever again. Despite being promised Flash in 2009 when I bought the device (yes 2009 kids!), we're still waiting in the UK for the Milestone to be updated. I understand the reason for making this app 2.2 only but it is a frustration.

    Time to write Motorola another pleading e-mail involving fingers and posteriors I guess.

  • Comment number 46.

    Nick, since you keep popping up to add comments prehaps you can explain 2 things to Android users.

    1. Why does the Android version need flash when the ipad version doesn't.

    2. Since we will have to have flash installed why should Android users not just go to the iPlayer Website rather than waste space on our devices installing your app which will do exactly the same thing.

    3. Why has licence payers money been wasted developing an App to do nothing that can't be done in the browser (with flash installed) and on the legal fees incurred shutting down people who produced better and more competent apps.

    I don't expect to get answers to these questions, since you seem to have steadfastly ignored them so far.

  • Comment number 47.

    You shut myPlayer down which was a very very good app and then insult the developer even more by giving the Android platform this tubbish that is nothing more than a web link that can only be used via wifi on a device that is 'portable' I thought Sky News was the Apple lover?

  • Comment number 48.

    Baldyman1966 - watch out for a follow up post about the new apps in the next few days.

    However regarding Flash this was what David said in the post I have already linked to:

    "Using Adobe Flash 10.1 streaming on mobile delivers significant infrastructure efficiencies for the BBC, as we use our existing video and audio encoding plant to create the streams. We don't need to install any new kit or set up any new servers. We just use what we already have to offer a higher quality BBC iPlayer on mobile experience.

    Enabling Flash on Android 2.2 devices also means that all current and new devices that support Android 2.2 can get BBC iPlayer. These devices all use the same standard Flash player which means we can offer a consistently high quality playback across all of them. Previously we had to review and test BBC iPlayer on a device-by-device basis to ensure the right high quality experience. Now we can offer BBC iPlayer on mobile to a whole group of devices at once, which is clearly much more efficient...

    ...Adobe Flash reaches an estimated 95% of PCs which means the BBC can use Flash streaming technologies to reach audiences on the internet right across the UK with a consistent video playback experience.

    As soon as Flash streaming came to mobile, through Adobe's Flash 10.1 player on Android 2.2 devices, it made sense to make the most of our existing Flash infrastructure to bring that consistent playback experience to mobile as well."

    Hope this helps.

    Thanks

  • Comment number 49.

    Move along. No news here.

    Sorry, but repackaging a web page inside the browser view of an app doesn't count as innovation, improvement or increasing availability. (Re-)allowing access to the 3G streams you _already_ produce, perhaps even letting iPhone/iPad/Android users know that they exist, might do, but of course that would be encouraging use of "low quality" video!

    I appreciate that the BBC has commited to Flash as the future of iPlayer. Fine. May I therefore suggest that you obsolete/delete the non-Flash based streams that are currently generated and remove access from everyone not using a PC/Wii/new Android handset. For those that don't realise, here are the other streams that are generated for every show on iPlayer:

    RTSP streamed H.264 @ 176 x 96, 80 kbps (for Nokia over 3G)
    HTTP downloaded DRM'd WMV 9 @ 320 x 176 (for Nokia download)
    RTSP streaming H.264 @ 320 x 176, 128 kbps (for Nokia WiFi)
    HTTP downloaded H.264 @ 483 x 272, 400 kbps (for iPhone)
    Kontiki Peer to Peer WMV 9 @ 672 x 544 (for Windows download)

    Excluding the download service they are evidently lower quality than on your TV, so let's get rid of them. I doubt anyone will mind.

    "If the BBC gave you something that worked poorly on your chosen device I suggest you might be unhappy. "

    Yes, if I knew there was a better alternative. If the alternative is no iPlayer at all, I'll take what I can get. Your arguments are missing the point: noone can stream high quality video over 3G, so why not expand the service that has been offered to Nokia users for several years.

  • Comment number 50.

    I want to get it! And I'm willing to pay to be able to use it from Spain! :)

  • Comment number 51.

    Can we have a Windows Phone 7 app please, should be easy/ secure enough to develop, .net + silverlight, high spec.
    Would be nice to have an official app available for xbox360, like the very polished skyplayer app. Why is the BBC dragging its heels on all these devices?

  • Comment number 52.

    Nick, In response to you rely to my post.

    No, it doesn't help

    "Enabling Flash on Android 2.2 devices also means that all current and new devices that support Android 2.2 can get BBC iPlayer."

    Banning Apps that accessed the non flash streams you produce already means that all current and new devices that don't support flash CANNOT get BBC iPlayer.
    If these streams aren't good enough for android, why are they considered good enough for Nokia and Apple devices? When is the BBC planning to phase out these low quality alternatives? I know you are a corporate employee and must spout the party line, but please stop treating us like idiots.

  • Comment number 53.

    Nick Reynolds wrote:
    "Enabling Flash on Android 2.2 devices also means that all current and new devices that support Android 2.2 can get BBC iPlayer."

    Wrong, I'm afraid. Only those devices with ARMv7 cores are supported by Flash (another artificial constraint of dubious merit, but that's another story), which means high-end handsets only.

    Even today there are many low- and mid-range Android devices coming to market with 2.2+ and ARMv6 cores, not to mention the multitude of Wildfires, X10 Minis, Legends, San Franciscos, Heros etc. that are already in use.

    These devices are perfectly capable of playing iPlayer content yet you are deliberately excluding them, and their licence-paying owners, by this policy.

    All this doesn't feel very Reithian...

  • Comment number 54.

    @ Nick Reynolds
    That still doesn't really explain why flash is being used for the android version when the iPad version doesn't. The BBC have developed a stream specific for the iPad, so why not android devices?

    And again, perhaps you could answer why it has taken over a year to make an app that is essentially just the website? What happened to the iPhone app? What happened to being able to download programmes? (the lack of that ability makes the app pretty useless for most people).

  • Comment number 55.

    A lot of naysayers here. Even though there is an app coming out for android, you people still have the opportunity to NOT use it.
    As Gordon wrote - currently phones being sold are 2.2 and above, so the BBC are catering for current OS, on both Android and Apple.
    If your phones cannot upgrade to 2.2, who's fault is that? the BBCs?
    No.
    As for the BBC hating opensource? No to that either, if all the BBC online services ran under commercial packages, then the license fee would be much higher.

  • Comment number 56.

    Fingers crossed it will let me listen to the radio abroad like the desktop iplayer. -I know it won't let me watch tv.

  • Comment number 57.

    Ro, you are missing the point which is since the iPad doesn't have flash and yet will be able to use iPlayer, why does the Android version REQUIRE it.there are many people who have phones that have not been updated to 2.2 and others that don't want to install the large flash file. Since neither Apple nor nokia require it, why is it needed for Android. We have not had a satisfactory answer to this question.

  • Comment number 58.

    So my take on the FLASH debarcle.

    Android WONT get non-flash streams because the bbc is scared of piracy of the programmes and as Android is open source this is pretty easy.

    Apple get non-flash because its closed source and in some way protects the programmes from being pirated?

    Ive just got my Advent Vega and FLASH works really well, but i dont want to have FLASH, give us the same streams as the IPAD can have, or something similar.

    You have geolocation ip checking on so why a second layer of DRM!

    joolz

  • Comment number 59.

    Baldyman1966 - can you moderate your tone please. As I've said there will hopefully be a follow up post by the end of the week which may answer some of your questions.

    Thanks

  • Comment number 60.

    I look forward to the explanation. Hopefully it will answer the questions being asked by people here. Please accept my apologies if you found my tone upsetting but the lack of explanation for what I (and clearly others) feel is unfair treatment is frustrating.

  • Comment number 61.

    I've read the whole thread, but I'm still looking for clarification. What are the BBC's plans/policy towards the iPod Touch?

    I bought one recently - it's efectively an iPad, just with a smaller screen. The majority of iPad apps work with it, but there's no sign of the BBC's iPlayer in the App Store because they seem to have flagged it as "iPad only".

    I tried using the "Bigscreen iPlayer" trick that used to work for the iPad, but just get told to "Download Flash". Does this mean that iPad support has been removed from this as well? Or are you using the browser string to decide, and if so why just the iPad but not the iPod?

    Some answers would be much appreciated.

  • Comment number 62.

    As an android phone owner, I appreciate the gesture. However, despite my phone being 2.2, it doesn't have flash 10.1. When my phone is perfectly capable of viewing mp4 streams which are already there for the iphone, this is disappointing.

    I'm not sure I understand the DRM argument. Streamed video is not difficult to store, but in the age of cloud computing, why would you want to.

    Matt

  • Comment number 63.

    @Peet the Sadly Truncated
    All iOS devices can use a version of the iPlayer website that will offer streams in the MP4 format that the devices can handle. This is one of the reasons why in its current state the app seems a bit pathetic, as it offers no functionality over the website you can visit in mobile safari.

    @Matt
    In reply to why would you want to store video, there are many reasons, but these are the two main ones.
    1 - streaming over 3G is not always possible (blocks like the BBC have put into this app, or simply down to stupid usage caps by networks).
    2 - 3G coverage can be spotty at best. Especially when travelling and on public transport (when a mobile iPlayer app would be most useful).

  • Comment number 64.

    I just wanted to post an apology. I finally succeeded in getting iPlayer to stream to my iPod!

    And I got it to work through the generic iPlayer URL. @'.'@

    I can only assume that iPlayer was "down" for the half a day I originally spent trying to do that, then when I moved on to try other options ("Bigscreen" etc.) I just never went back to try again. Sorry.

  • Comment number 65.

    Will we be able to access local radio streams via the android app?

  • Comment number 66.

    Thank you Daniel for the update on apps for ipad and android.

    Can I ask whether the dev team still intend to release an iplayer app for iphone and ipod touch at some point in the future?

    Many thanks.

  • Comment number 67.

    I have to agree with a number of posters here.. I do safari optimised iplayer to watch the odd thing now and again at home via wifi, but found it buggy and unreliable; so a dedicated iPad app will be great.. However it's a let down if we can't download things to watch offline :( as a commuter, that would've been highly valuable to me and with the licence fee in itself!!

    Hope the beeb will look to this soon?

  • Comment number 68.

    Relying on flash. Lazy BBC. Lazy and disappointing. MP4 streams would be infinitely better.

  • Comment number 69.

    I've got Android 2.2, I've got Flash 10.1 "Lite", Flash streams work from almost every other website on the internet except the BBC. Adobe won't bring out 10.1 for the HTC Legend because of its CPU but when they demo'd Flash 10.1 it was on the same CPU.

    Basically because Adobe are lazy the BBC won't let me view its content.

    Applications like Beebplayer and myPlayer for Android which deliver the Apple steams to Android (and work very well) get shutdown by the BBC but the BBC won't provide alternatives. I don't understand the logic, if I have an old iPhone I can watch the BBC, if I have a newer but not highest spec Android I'm NOT allowed to watch the BBC.

    Also you don't need Wifi, it works over 3g fine with a good signal. Wifi only is purely to keep the mobile operators happy. Beebplayer works over 3G and is very watchable even while on the move.

    The BBC mobile technology department has a lot of inconsistency in its policy's clearing favouring certain manufactures and operation systems. Previous explanations by Erik Huggers clearly highlight he / the team don't understand the issues and the technology.

  • Comment number 70.

    "You may not care about quality but the BBC does. That's why we're trying to get a high quality experience on as many devices as possible rather than a poor quality one that might cover all devices. If the BBC gave you something that worked poorly on your chosen device I suggest you might be unhappy."

    People trying to watch BBC content on 2.5" to 4" screens aren't interested in quality. If something worked poorly on my chosen device I would be happier than I am now when something doesn't work at all on my chosen device.

  • Comment number 71.

    Just to clarify here is the general minimum hardware and software requirement for Adobe's Flash 10.1 player on Android devices.

    "To use Adobe Flash 10.1 and therefore BBC iPlayer on Android you must have a device with the Google Android 2.2 (general minimum hardware and software requirements ARMv7 processor) or later, operating system (OS) and the Adobe Flash 10.1, or above, Player installed."

    Thanks



  • Comment number 72.

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

  • Comment number 73.

    Using Adobe Flash 10.1 streaming on mobile delivers significant infrastructure efficiencies for the BBC, as we use our existing video and audio encoding plant to create the streams. We don't need to install any new kit or set up any new servers.

    Sounds reasonable enough at first glance, but try this instead:

    Using the same h264/MP4 streams for Android clients as we do for iOS delivers significant infrastructure efficiencies for the BBC, as we use our existing video and audio encoding plant to create the streams. We don't need to install any new kit or set up any new servers.

    Is that any less reasonable? If not, why not just do that then? If you could give us the 'technical' reason alluded to, but not included in the original post why something that we already know works can't work, I'm sure that would help.

  • Comment number 74.

    God I miss myPlayer!

  • Comment number 75.

    "There will hopefully be a follow up post by the end of the week which may answer some of your questions."

    I know it's not unusual for Nick to ignore my posts on iPlayer/Android, but maybe this time he's just waiting for the follow-up....

    "May I suggest you obsolete/delete the non-Flash based streams that are currently generated..."

    Am I right Nick? Is this the subject for the next post? (Obviously, the iPhone streams are special. So we'll keep those.)

  • Comment number 76.

    Can Nick Reynolds confirm if the blog to follow later this week will address the shocking lack of iPhone support?

  • Comment number 77.

    foolonthehill - since I don't know exactly what's in the forthcoming post (as I am not writing it, haven't seen it and it's not written yet) I'm afraid I can't answer your question.

    Thanks

  • Comment number 78.

    Nice - now just to wait for Samsung to roll out Froyo to my phone... :/

  • Comment number 79.

    Thanks Nick. I look forward to hearing more about where the BBC is planning to take iPlayer in the future.

    From my own personal perspective, I think those asking for a mobile download service are unlikely to be satisfied - DRM being too much of an issue for cross-platform support at the moment (except in iOS through iTunes, maybe?!). However, I'd really like to see the (already produced) H.264 iPhone streams moved to a container which is more accessible. It's at an ideal resolution for mobile use on all platforms, or for those with slower connections. I'd also like to see a low-res version (ie. the 3GP stream) opened to everyone, including the iPhone - 3G/H streaming is going to be the future demand. Neither of these would have any impact on the "existing infrastructure".

    Looking back at how the roadmap has changed over the years, I was intrigued by Antony Rose's post (http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/03/bbc_iplayer_on_iphone_behind_t.html%29:

    "For devices with browsers [...] getting BBC iPlayer working on those devices "merely" requires us to provide audio and/or video streams in a format that is supported by the media player(s) available on that device. "

    When did this attitude change? It seems from today's post that, when everyone else is moving into the browser, iPlayer plans to move out into platform-specific "apps"!

  • Comment number 80.

    Given that Sony Ericsson have committed to not upgrading their phones to 2.2, we're once again frozen out of what I consider to be a key app. Do I get a partial refund of my licence fee because you've chosen to worship the Apple hype-machine? Of course not.

    There were two fantastic unofficial iPlayer apps for Android - beebplayer and myPlayer, both of which worked on lower Android builds. But as mentioned above, the BBC lawyers decided to stop them operating, wasting a lot of dedicated grass-roots developing and alienating users. Would it not make more sense to endorse one of these fine apps, rather than telling people they cannot use them, and not providing a satisfactory alternative?

  • Comment number 81.

    (Sorry - just discovered I was wrong. iPhone streams are not significantly less bandwidth intensive than the normal flash stream: 483x272@400kbps vs. 512x288@372kbps according to beebhack)

  • Comment number 82.

    Yet again this old canard is being wheeled out - "...but would have resulted in a very poor quality experience on many phones as video playback capabilities and web browser rendering vary across devices"

    NO SUPPORT AT ALL is a poor quality experience - especially when third party apps Android have shown that streaming on the iPlayer *is* possible USING YOUR EXISTING STREAMS! Prior to my current HTC Legend I had the HTC Magic, which was more than capable of playing content via myPlayer. Let's stop this nonsense and start being a bit more honest, please.

  • Comment number 83.

    Daniel/Nick - could you clarify something for me please? Daniel says a key feature on ipad will be: - "Access the BBC's full catalogue of catch-up programmes; seven-days' TV and radio on demand as well as series stacking (as you get on the web)."

    Will it be the *full* catalogue of catch-up programmes? iplayer mobile currently doesn't show any regional programmes at all, even though they are available on the main iplayer site. That's no politics show for Northern Ireland, no Scottish/Welsh drama that isn't network - nothing from Alba. Will this be the same for iplayer on ipad?

  • Comment number 84.

    Good news that this will be available but can you comment on earlier requests for information any any prospective plans for BBC Worldwide to offer a similar service (subscription or otherwise)?
    Thanks

  • Comment number 85.

    Will the BBC allow Americans to (finally) buy into this?

    A lot of burden could be taken off the British license payers if the BBC opened up to the US market.

  • Comment number 86.

    I still don't think the question has been answered as to why the iPhone hasn't been supported. The initial BBC press release said the iPhone would initially be the focus with Android and RIM to follow http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8519783.stm Why the change in focus?

  • Comment number 87.

    I understand other people's disappointment, but I'm looking forward to the iPad app. The current safari experience on iPad is pretty bad and has crashed the browser quite often for me. However, I too am disappointed that programmes can't be download for viewing later - even in the "safe" Apple world.

  • Comment number 88.

    Why no world service on the new iPad app radio section?

  • Comment number 89.

    Please stop using Flash.

  • Comment number 90.

    People need to understand that the BBC absolutely must use a technology that supports DRM in order to enable access to as much of their programming as possible. It's just not possible to secure the rights to stream content from rights holders if that content is not properly protected with anti-piracy methods. I'm very sure the BBC itself has the same policy in all its licensing agreements.

    I can understand the frustration with the choice of Flash on Android devices. This is why I have been so supportive of Apple's stance on blocking Adobe's technology from its platform. The policy enforces the need for the likes of the BBC to utilise superior technologies that result in a better user experience for owners of iOS devices. Many of the heated comments in this blog entry really back up what Apple was saying about Flash last year.

  • Comment number 91.

    Fascinating to see the BBC try come up with technical justifications for refusing to bring video to lots of platforms well capable of it. The fact of the matter is that the BBCs' #1 concern is an obsession with "content protection", and a belief that some platforms are "safe" (Apple and others) - and so get access to HTTP and HTML interfaces for iPlayer - and others are not (Android) and thus are denied. And then the amazing belief that Flash can somehow make unsafe platforms safe!

    The BBC is very reluctant to discuss this issue in public, except in the most vague, high-level management speak - thus avoiding actual technical substance. Mentioning the subject here will not infrequently get warnings about off-topicness, even on posts where the issue quite clearly is pertinent.

    Worse, the BBC, as far as I know (and I've made formal and informal queries), has not even any empirical evidence to support its content protection policies. E.g. there is no evidence Flash adds any security (unless you believe Adobe sales-people). There is no evidence denying access to the HTML video player has prevented any copying. I'm still using get_iplayer... (I'd *like* to use the official HTML iPlayer, if only the BBC would let me!). So while there is no evidence *for* this content protection policy, there is plenty of good technical argument as to why it would be ineffective - and I'm sure at least some technical folk in the BBC have tried point it to management.

    At least be straight with us. You lose a lot more respect when you try treat us as fools.

  • Comment number 92.

    Fairly simple, surely - Flash 10.1 and iOS support a (small) level of content protection, which prevents us from easily downloading the video stream onto our desktop machines (i.e. the changes that recently broke the excellent iPlayer downloader).

    It's also worth remembering - with all the accusations that the BBC is in bed with/biased towards Apple, that the ONLY reason the open H264 streams existed at all, is down to Apple's stance on Flash. The ONLY reason we could then use them on other devices and software, is because there was no way to authenticate the device.

    (What's changed recently is that with the most recent update, the BBC can more reliably authenticate that the client is iOS or a Playstation via certificates).

    I also recall a good period where Apple users were excluded from using iPlayer when it was a Windows-only program using a Microsoft-only DRM technology - with the BBC's explanation being Apple's lack of support for video DRM - outside of their own iTunes store.

    Before all that, the BBC used RealPlayer.

    I don't see any evidence of the BBC having a preferred partner - just that they've always used commercial rather than open solutions.

    But then, a large reason for that, would be that the producers of open solutions are never interested in meeting the content producers even half-way.

    Again, Apple established the iTunes store before demanding the majors dropped DRM, from a position of power. They were able to make similar demands with iOS ('no, we won't support Flash, you support us').

    Open streams will come when someone with similar clout demands them - not by winning the technical argument that DRM can always be defeated.

  • Comment number 93.

    Let's stick to the point - if you can't download then this has been a huge waste of license payer's money.

  • Comment number 94.

    So I'm sitting in London but your app thinks I'm outside the UK and so I can't watch or listen to anything. This is very poor and hugely annoying. Please fix or get better IP sniffing or whatever you use!

  • Comment number 95.

    iPlayer, Android, and the fallacy of the DRM argument.

    A lot of people here seem to be under considerable confusion regarding Android and iPlayer, though a lot of that is due to that I consider marketing double-speak from the BBC.

    First of all, the requirements to run the iPlayer application on an Android device:

    1. The device must have an ARMv7 processor. There are many current Android devices that use ARMv6 processors and cannot run Adobe Flash 10.1. iPlayer requires the FULL Flash 10.1, Flash lite will not suffice.

    2. The device must be running Android 2.2 (or higher). There are many current devices that are still being sold with Android 2.1. Some of these may never be updated.

    Secondly, the notion that the BBC is using Flash because in insists on DRM for its content and that cannot be provided on an open-source platform.

    1. The BBC provide DRM free 3gp streams for Nokia device. These do not have a DRM component and were used by the BeebPlpayer and MyPlayer Android applications that were killed by the BBC. It is no more difficult to rip these streams from a Nokia device that from an Android device (or, indeed, from a PC). The "It must have DRM" argument just doesn't hold water.

    2. There is no earthly reason why a DRM solution cannot be provided for Android (or any other Open Source platform). True, it is easier for closed source, largely because most DRM systems rely on "Security by Obscurity", which brings me onto my 3rd point:

    3. DRM is a failed concept. All DRM systems are eventually circumvented. The main effect of DRM is to annoy legitimate users (or, as in this case, deny them access to the content they have paid for). DRM actually benefits those it is designed to defeat (professional / commercial pirates and prolific file sharers). If DRM prevent a legitimate user making reasonable use of the content they have paid for (or denies them access entirely), then they are likely to turn to more nefarious means of obtaining that content from those that DO have the ability to defeat the DRM of the content in question.

    The BBC has behaved exceedingly badly with regards to the provision of iPlayer on Android. First, by killing off the two applications that permitted ANY Android user to access iPlayer, publishing, quite frankly, weak and absurd reasons for those actions. They then introduce, first, a web based iplayer client, then an application, which only support a subset of Android devices, being exceedingly cagey over its limitations with regards to supported devices.

    The really absurd this about this "app" is that it it only supports the same devices as the existing web interface. Why did the BBC spend time an money developing an app that isn't needed when it could have developed an application for non-Flash Android devices?

  • Comment number 96.

    Thanks to Phil for asking people to stick to the point.

    Thanks to JulesLt for his sober summary.

    Paul Jakma is being a little disingenuous when he suggests that BBC management is reluctant to talk about content protection. On this blog it was blogged about by Ian Hunter last year and in addition the BBC's overall approach has been explained by Najma Rajah. The BBC has also released various documents to Paul under FOI and I know that a senior member of the BBC's technical team has had a detailed informal conversation with Paul himself.

    The BBC is not hiding anything. It's position is well known. It's simply that Paul disagrees with it, as he is entitled to do.

    Thanks

  • Comment number 97.

    But but but, I thought andriod users love their fantastic flash format. haha.

  • Comment number 98.

    @71 Nick Reynolds

    Your post make it appear that the minimum requirement for Android 2.2 is an ARMv7 processor, this is simply not the case.

    There are plenty of current Android phones with ARMv7 processor that do not have Android 2.2, and plenty of current (some only just released) phones with Android 2.2 that have ARMv6 processors.

    Neither can run Flash 10.0 or iPlayer.

    It is imperative that the BBC makes it ABSOLUTELY clear that Android 2.2 is not the sole requirement for iPlayer. Someone signing up to a 2 year contract on an Android phone (with Android 2.2) thinking it will run iPlayer, and then finding that it will NEVER have that capability, is likely to be exceedingly annoyed.

  • Comment number 99.

    EponymousCowherd - see my comment 71.

    Thanks

  • Comment number 100.

    As "Eponymous Cowherd" correctly points out. The BBC need to stop trotting out the line about Android 2.2, that is not the solution. You must have Android 2.2 with a ARM7 CPU !

    This is confusing for end user buts the requirements Adobe have laid down and the ones thus the BBC must promote if Flash 10.1 is the answer for Android.

    Several ARM7 powered phones are stuck on Android 2.1 and won't be upgraded. Motorola and Sony Ericsson for example, how gutted would you be if you bought a £450 (of a high per month contract) SE Xperia X10 and now you can't get iPlayer or Flash because of lack of support from your manufacture.

    Nick Reynolds, can you explain the BBC stand on Flash 10.1 LITE as supplied by some handset manufactures like HTC. I can view high quality streams from Sky News, ITV, C4, Youtube, CNN (the list goes on) but not the BBC. It might be a halfway house solution but it works.

 

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