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New BBC Media Player app to replace Android iPlayer

by Mark Tyson on 21 September 2012, 13:00

Tags: iPlayer, PC

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qabmqj

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The BBC has started to roll out a new version of its iPlayer media streaming app for Android powered devices. The new player is called BBC Media Player and it will also be used for the “mobile view” of the iPlayer website.

The BBC originally chose Adobe Flash to stream to Android devices because of “cross platform efficiencies”; being able to use the same infrastructure to provide media delivery to many computers and devices. Adobe’s decision to remove Flash Player plugin support for Android meant that the BBC had to look at other ways to securely deliver video and audio to Android devices. Android’s fragmentation presented a unique problem as so many people are stuck on older versions of the OS. (Like me, stuck on Froyo!)

Chris Yanda, writing on the BBC internet blog said the following criteria had to be considered;

  • New Android devices with Jellybean have no Flash plugin
  • The vast majority of Android devices are on Gingerbread and Froyo
  • A solution working on both websites and Android apps would be required to keep within budget
  • Security obligations to media rights holders need to be met

The BBC said lots of solutions were looked at; “for example, Http Live Streaming (HLS) which is used to stream BBC media to other platforms. Unfortunately, HLS isn't supported on Android OS versions prior to Honeycomb.” After much researching and pondering the BBC decided “In the end, Flash was still the best choice of media format for us to use. And the only practical technology for us to play this format back on Android is Adobe Air.” Also Adobe’s history of collaboration with the BBC, including during the recent London 2012 Olympic Games coverage, helped the decision along.

The new BBC Media Player is already available for download on Google Play. The initial reaction isn’t very good, with the vast majority of downloaders giving it a one out of five rating (lowest possible). Despite the BBC’s “concerns” about fragmentation it isn’t compatible with my Froyo device, Gingerbread must have been the cut off point.

On a colleagues’ Android Jelly Bean device, the new app redirected a video selection to the BBC iPlayer web page, then the video played smoothly. However he noted, with disappointment, there was no HD playback option.

The BBC said it will “...continue to work on this application and on improving media playback and mobile experience on Android smartphones and tablets.” Comments about the new Media Player are invited on the BBC blog. Also you can let us know how it works on your device.



HEXUS Forums :: 10 Comments

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Why not just give us the content that the iPhone users get? They have had no flash support since eh, the iPhone was launched.
dcwt2010
Why not just give us the content that the iPhone users get? They have had no flash support since eh, the iPhone was launched.
Because…
The BBC said lots of solutions were looked at; for example, Http Live Streaming (HLS) which is used to stream BBC media to other platforms. Unfortunately, HLS isn't supported on Android OS versions prior to Honeycomb
I can see why this gets such a poor rating …
There are no configuration options what so ever (like quality settings) default is pretty poor quality as well.
Still no download mode either, when will they learn that people will use there mobile for iplayer when they're NOT at home.
Can we please have the option to download shows (automatically if poss) and then be able to watch them offline / on the go!
To claim the content is subject to “Security obligations to media rights holders” is just a non-issue, it's a given that these are protected as much as they can be.

I'm becoming more convinced the Beeb are Apple biased, they released a response as to why WP7+7.5 was ignored and why there are no plans for a WP8 app, and it's full of out-and-out lies, basically they didn't want to fund it.

If they had a decent iPlayer app on any other platform I'd get rid of my iPhone which I only use for music and the iPlayer :\

Is there not a universal streaming format between all the platforms? That's more the fault of the industry I suppose, maybe it's being held to ransom by some patent trolls?
Blademrk
Because…
The BBC said lots of solutions were looked at; for example, Http Live Streaming (HLS) which is used to stream BBC media to other platforms. Unfortunately, HLS isn't supported on Android OS versions prior to Honeycomb
Irrelevant, the BBC shouldn't be so shortsighted; gingerbread is nearly two years old and ICS is making big gains by the day. Furthermore, most phones stuck on GB are probably low spec older phones that struggle with crappy flash.
Don't get me wrong, I think we should continue having the option to use flash on mobile but if Adobe itself has abandoned it then we shouldn't go down with a sinking ship.
In fairness, some of the older phones function fine and better with ICS; like my SGS i9000 so the real answer is to get those manufacturers to update their phones or let google do the job.