BBC iPlayer review (Android)
We review the BBC iPlayer app, the Android version of its popular television catch-up service
Slowly but surely, the venerable establishment that is the British Broadcasting Corporation is bringing itself up to speed on modern technology. Its ground-breaking iPlayer service has proven to be extremely successful online, and it has since been ported to other delivery methods, such as the Nintendo Wii and Sony's PS3.
Android is the next region on the digital map ear-marked for iPlayer domination, but in the world of Google Phones this official application isn’t necessarily being welcomed with open arms. Previously, Android users could grab iPlayer streams using the excellent BeebPlayer, but the BBC has closed the door on that particular piece of software, and it’s since been removed from the Android Market.
Obviously the intention is to make way for this officially-sanctioned application, and while it works well enough, it makes you hope that the BBC is serious about augmenting its abilities in the future.
Before we charge headlong into the things we don’t like about iPlayer for Android, let’s instead focus on what’s commendable.
The layout of the app is brilliant, making it easy to browse Auntie’s vast repository of TV and radio content. A big, friendly ‘Featured’ page directs you to shows that are popular right now, while it’s also possible to jump straight to a channel or station, or browse by content categories. All of these functions are handled within a polished and intuitive menu system, and everything loads up quickly.
The iPlayer app only functions over a WiFi connection, and if you try to stream content using your phone’s cellular network, it steadfastly refuses to comply. On one hand we can see why the Beeb has taken this route – the days of truly unlimited data are over, and watching endless episodes of Top Gear over 3G would eat through your precious allowance in hours. However, it would have been a nice option to have for those of us that have more generous network providers.