BBC launches iPlayer 2.0 beta

One year after its intial launch, the on-demand TV service has undergone a major facelift designed to make it more appealing and easier to use

The BBC's iPlayer on-demand TV service has undergone a major facelift designed to make it more appealing and easier to use.

Almost a year after its beta launch, the BBC has added more functionality and improved the interface of the successful web TV service.

Speaking in London on Wednesday, BBC group controller for future media and technology Erik Huggers said: "We've learned quite a bit over the last 12 months about what our audience likes… and we've continued to innovate quite substantially."

The refreshed homepage now has a 'Last played' section which uses anonymous cookies to show the last programme viewed or listened to by the user, with the ability to resume a paused piece of content from a previous session.

There is also a 'More like this' section which lists related programmes which viewers might be interested in, along with links to relevant websites. The playback screen has also been enlarged.

Radio is more prominent, with live radio available. Radio also benefits from improved sound quality and the ability to rewind and fast-forward on the 'Listen again' service.

There is also a TV schedule to help people plan their viewing by listing which programmes will be available on iPlayer and which will be broadcast only on television.

The streaming version of iPlayer was launched on Christmas Day last year and has since received more than 100 million programme requests.

A cross-platform version of the download service for Mac and Linux is expected to arrive by the end of year. Huggers said: "People underestimate how difficult it is to do this."

As well as Windows, iPlayer is now available through Virgin Media, Apple iPhone and iPod Touch and the Nintendo Wii.

It seems calls for the BBC to pay for extra bandwidth used by iPlayer have abated. Huggers said: "All that has literally gone silent. We are partnering and working very closely with the ISP community."

The new version of iPlayer launches in beta form on 26 June and will run alongside the first-generation service for the next few weeks.

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