BBC to Launch Native iPlayer Apps for iPad and Android Later This Week

In a posting on a BBC blog, Tuesday, the corporation's general manager of Future Media & Technology, Daniel Danker, confirmed that it will launch native iPad and Android apps for its BBC iPlayer online catch-up service by the end of the week (note: a BBC employee leaked news of the pending launch of an iPad iPlayer app, which he said would take place Thursday, earlier this week--see the article published on, February 7th). Currently, iPad and Android users have to access the iPlayer over their browser. The new apps are expected to support playback over WiFi and only content-browsing over 3G. "As [outgoing head of BBC Future Media & Technology] 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," Danker wrote. "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 PC's 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."

According to Danker, key features of the new Android and iPad native iPlayer apps include:

  • The ability to watch live TV and listen to live radio (note: this is the first time this iPlayer feature has been available on mobile devices).
  • The ability to access the BBC's full catalog of catch-up programs: seven days of TV and radio on-demand, as well as series stacking.
  • A simple and intuitive design with high picture quality and personalized favorites. According to Danker, the design "makes the most of the touch-screen UI."

Danker stated that, while the initial versions of the apps are "about getting the basics right," the BBC plans to add more features throughout the year. He also stated that, in order to use the Android app, viewers will need a device that is running Android version 2.2 and that has Adobe Flash 10.1 Player installed. "Our Flash streams need a powerful mobile phone processor and a WiFi connection to ensure a smooth viewing experience, which means that only newer, more powerful Android 2.2 devices connected via WiFi can support the Flash 10.1 streaming experience," he explained.