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Round up, Thursday 27 May 2010: iPlayer Beta

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Paul Murphy Paul Murphy | 15:21 UK time, Thursday, 27 May 2010

The Internet blog's favourite headline from yesterday's new personalised iPlayer beta launch was BitterWallet's "BBC buff up the iPlayer and get groovy with the social networking craze" which sums up a lot of the new features in one pithy phrase.

As well as the BBC's official How to and tips guide, The Guardian have produced their own Need to Know guide.

Among other stories that emerged yesterday in the announcement was the BBC's support for the imminently available iPad from Apple. The Telegraph covered the story (and implied that it would be via an app and got corrected in several places including here as well as in their own comments) as did The Register who produced our second favourite headline of the day: "BBC iPlayer to run on iPads. Eventually".

The Register story includes some quotes from the press conference yesterday including this one from Erik Huggers:

"We're not wedded to Flash. Let's be really clear about that,,, Having over 25 devices out there for BBC iPlayer means we are quite flexible about the technologies we use to get our service out to consumers. Not all of our services are powered by Flash. The iPad is a very interesting device, the screen size is right, the battery life is right, and we will make iPlayer services available."

And this from Anthony Rose:

"For downloads you need to have rights management to limit the time availability. To do that you need DRM. The only DRM that works on Apple devices is Apple DRM which is a closed system. So for downloads, they are off limits for the moment. But for streaming there should be no problem... Sometimes we play out using RTMP, sometimes we use SSL, sometimes we use HTTP. It depends on the resolution of the content. On low resolution mobile devices, as with an iPhone, you sometimes don't need protection. As you get to higher resolution ones, you do. On iPad we're likely to use SSL based streaming."

The Telegraph also covered what's known as iPlayer interlinking whereby metadata from other broadcasters shows up in iPlayer searches with an external link to the programme. Their headline though would seem to imply more than that: Every terrestrial TV programme to be available via BBC iPlayer.

Catchy headline but not true. PaidContent's "BBC iPlayer Will Link To Commercial VOD Services" is probably more accurate.

And one last piece of feedback (from The Register) for the iPlayer team:

...and while we're at it, this is completely off topic but: to the people who made the BBC3 iPlayer ident, please please please get the audio remastered properly. I've stuck my head inside jet engines that were quieter. If I get my ears blasted by that thing one more time I'm calling my lawyer. Okay?
Paul Murphy is Editor, BBC Internet blog


  • Comment number 1.

    Point of note… if there was an iPlayer app which did the downloads itself, the BBC wouldn’t need to implement DRM at all, because nothing would be able to access the downloaded files except the application which downloaded them. Sure, you need Fairplay if you want to down DRM’d downloads on the desktop and then transfer the downloaded files into the built-in “Movies” app, but that would be a horrible user experience anyway.

    Given that Adobe is a strategic partner, if the BBC wants to do “transfer from desktop to iPhone/iPod/iPad app”, why not implement Adobe’s DRM in the iPhone app and do the transfer over WiFi?

    The core problem here is identical to the one Spotify has, and they managed to solve it without any fuss or misdirection about DRM.

  • Comment number 2.

    Ooh, looks like iPlayer for iPad is here - using the Big Screen TV version of iPlayer.

    Awesome ... can't wait to try it out!!

  • Comment number 3.

    El Reg is right about the BBC3 ident, you know... it /is/ very annoying. Could the player software not attempt to normalise the volume of the ident with the subsequent programme along the lines of Replay Gain (i.e. using metadata, for example the programme has a stored metadata value of its loudness level (arbitrary units), and the ident is normalised to this value)? Get your code monkeys on it. :)

  • Comment number 4.

    Which "one pithy phrase" do you refer to?

    Or are you confused about the difference between a phrase and a sentence?

  • Comment number 5.

    #2 Hi Kenichi,
    Morten has written a post about putting iPlayer on the iPad.
    Best wishes, Paul

  • Comment number 6.

    The iPlayer beta look is great but could you please put back the pop out feature. It was really handy.

  • Comment number 7.

    Why can't your viewers search for an actors name, song title, etc. in iPlayer?

    You have to record this info for royalty payments. So you have it already.

    But when I type in a person's name it doesn't come up with a list of programmes they were in. The programme has to be named after the person before I can find it!

    Seems a bit brain dead to me.

    Also when I'm listening to the radio I often find myself coming across a song or article that I'd like to go back to and hear from the beginning.
    Yet, I can't find the name of the article or the song from the BBC site.

    I'd like to be able to type in a time and day and get a list of programmes that were on then.
    Like I said, this data is already recorded by the BBC for legal reasons. But it would make it easy for listeners to find things they heard a day or two ago. We don't all carry a copy of the Radio Times around to flick back a few days to see what the programme was called on that particular time that week.


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