BBC iPlayer app for Android now available on the Market

bbc iplayer android screenshot

The iPlayer app is quite beautiful

Yes, it’s out! Do a search for iPlayer on the Market and you’ll find the official BBC Android version waiting for you.

Just to let you know there is Live TV, Live Radio and 3 quality settings ranging from 400kbps to 800kbps.

So, what is version 1.0 of the iPlayer app like? Well I’ve been playing around with it quite a bit today and although there is still a lot of work to be done, it’s a good start.

You can tell the app is polished. Open it up and you get the BBC “feel”. The main screen of the app shows the featured shows and a quick swipe to the right shows you the current most popular titles. One more swipe right and you get to see videos that have been recommended to you – presumably from data gathered by other programmes you have watched.

A single click on any programme and you are taken to a screen with the programme information, running time and the ability to Share or add to your favourites. Press play and you’ll be taken to the full-screen horizontal mode. If you press your back button, the video will shrink and the app displays the summary page of the programme once more whilst still playing the video. It is then possible to get back into full-screen by tapping on the video. This isn’t a smooth and fluid process and you will notice the video chop and pause when it rotates but it’s still nice to have it there.

The option to view videos by category and channel is also available from the not-so-obvious “menu” button at the top of the screen. This is also where you get to access Live TV. Live TV seems to work well, although the quality obviously isn’t as good as pre-aired programmes, it’s still good enough to watch on-the-go. I say on-the-go but you can’t actually use your 3G connection to stream programmes – only to browse. This might be added in a later version but from experience on the Symbian version, I doubt it very much.

bbc iplayer android download marketThe main problem I have seen with the streaming of videos is the sync between the audio and the video. If you start a programme and watch it all the way through the sync is normally OK. However, if you skip to different parts of a stream then the sync can go way out – this is obviously something the BBC need to fix in the next app update.

The Radio functions all work well, there is also live streaming available via the sneaky “menu” button at the top of the screen. It’s certainly nice to have digital radio in your pocket even if it is only available via WiFi.

So, a good start for the BBC iPlayer app and it’ll be interesting to see how it improves over the next month or two. Will we see HD streaming to our phones? Will we be able to save TV or radio shows for later viewing/listening? It’s all possible but we’ll have to wait and see what the BBC bring to us.

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