BBC iPlayer app for iPhone and iPod Touch finally makes its debut

3G streaming added for latest incarnation of TV on demand service...
Written by Steve Ranger, Global News Director

3G streaming added for latest incarnation of TV on demand service...

Apple iPhone 4S

Coming to an iPhone near you, soon - the iPlayer appPhoto: Apple

The BBC has released an iPlayer app for Apple's iPhone and iPod Touch.

Although iPad and Android users have had app versions of the BBC's TV and radio on demand service for some time, iPhone fans have had to wait until now to their own iPlayer app.

The app is compatible with Apple AirPlay, meaning iOS 5 users can connect their iPhone or iPod Touch to Apple TV to watch programmes on their television.

Other features of the app include 'Live channel hopping', which allows users to switch between live channels just like on a TV. And with background listening, audiences can listen to live radio in the background while they are using their phone.

The iPhone iPlayer app is available free of charge from the Apple App Store, and is compatible with iPod Touch or iPhone 3GS and later iPhone models running iOS 4.3 and above.

The BBC said so far this year iPlayer has been downloaded 1.5 million times by iPad users, and downloaded onto 1.2 million Android devices.

Mobile is a small but rapidly growing part of iPlayer traffic: in September this year, 153 million TV and radio programmes were downloaded across all iPlayer platforms, while more than 16.5 million programmes were watched on mobile devices during October, double the number viewed last year, according to the broadcaster.

The BBC has also announced the launch of 3G streaming for iPlayer apps. 3G streaming capability will be introduced across all mobile networks, starting this week with the iPhone and iPad apps and then becoming available on other mobile devices. The BBC said it has worked closely with mobile operators to ensure that their networks are ready for iPlayer traffic.

To underpin the streaming service, the BBC is using HLS (HTTP Live Streaming) video infrastructure. HLC uses adaptive bitrate technologies so that the app can detect the strength of a user's wi-fi or 3G connection and serve the appropriate video quality.

"If you have low internet signal strength then the video stream will adapt down to suit your connection speed; if you move onto a stronger signal then the video stream will automatically improve in quality. The idea is to give you the best possible experience wherever you are," David Madden, executive product manager for BBC iPlayer on mobile, wrote in a blog post.

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