Finally, after a longer than expected wait, the BBC iPlayer app has re-launched for Android devices.
One month ago the BBC launched the BBC Media Player — technology to delivery BBC web-based video without the reliance on Adobe Flash. At the time the BBC claimed the iPlayer was to arrive the “following week” however it has taken four weeks!
The BBC iPlayer for Andorid App is available free in the Google Play store now, supporting Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean).
For those on Android 4.0 (ICS) or lower, they will wonder what all the fuss is about as they already have the iPlayer. However the video streaming service required Adobe Flash and this was dropped by Adobe when Android 4.1 was delivered.
When you download the iPlayer it will ask you to install BBC Media Player if not already installed.
Once the App launches you can browse the usual TV & Radio selection by channel, Featured, Most Popular, etc. Video play back is in wide (landscape mode) only and is surprisingly poor and pixellated, even when increased to the highest quality video output. If the video is fast paced or the scene is changing quickly there is a noticeable distortion and slight lag on occasion. The further away from the screen you are the less obvious the picture distortion, however there’s a limit to how much distance your can put between you and a seven-inch screen.
Playback is actually handled by the BBC Media Player App so you end up running two apps!
Surprisingly there is no ‘download’ option allowing you to watch content while off line — this was launched in the iOS version a few months ago. The Radio channels are also part of the Android App — the BBC team recently hived off its Radio offering into a separate app for iOS devices. The development team seem to be lacking consistency in their approach.
The app, although a welcome addition and long overdue, does seem a little lacking in features and well behind the iOS version.
I think the BBC will receive a lot of feedback, probably negative, for this App however I am sure it will improve – hopefully quickly!