Review: BBC iPlayer on Android 2.2

This is slightly old news to those of you on the BLEEDING EDGE of Android, but if you’re in possession of a phone upgraded to Android 2.2 and loaded with the final version of the Flash Player, you’ll be automatically redirected to the BBC’s hot new mobile version of the iPlayer site.

So we thought we’d take a look at how iPlayer operates on Android. The novelty of taking screenshots of stuff on our phone still hasn’t worn off.

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So there it is. Android iPlayer operates entirely within the web browser, as you’d expect, along with an impressively comprehensive collection of options – adding shows to your Favourites lists, sorting and searching by channel and day, and much more. It offers all the functionality of the desktop version.

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You’re able to watch shows in this miniaturised picture format, with a bit more information around the edges. Handy if you’re the modern sort who finds it impossible to concentrate on one particular thing for more than three seconds at a time. And if you’re watching TV on your phone, that’s likely to be the case.

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The Favourites tag works, as in it remembers your favourites between web sessions (we turned our Desire off and on again to check this…). It’s a shame there are no super-hardcore options to tweak picture quality manually dependent on connection speed and phone processor power, though, as that’d keep Android users well happy.

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Rotate the phone and the view scales up a little more. At this resolution, picture quality is still great – plus the player skips quickly through shows with pretty much nothing in the way of buffering. Of course we’re reviewing this when connected via wi-fi – that’s a compulsory requirement.

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This is what you see when accessing iPlayer via the mobile network. It won’t work for most of you, unless you’re on Three or Vodafone and sitting on a picnic blanket right beneath a 3G mobile mast on a sunny day.

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When zoomed to full screen, picture quality is not so hot. It’s pixelated. Not as bad as watching standard definition broadcast TV scaled up on an HDTV, but not super-sharp either. The BBC is pushing out a special 400kbps stream for us mobile users.

The only issue we have is the size of that pause button – it’s minuscule. And shoved away at the unresponsive corner of the screen. You’ll be in trouble if you have to perform an ‘Emergency Pause’.

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Although it all takes place within the Android browser, BBC’s Android iPlayer is a surprisingly app-like experience. Everything’s simple, uniform, and quick.

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Kirsty Wark must’ve doubled her salary since the launch of BBC4. She’s on everything.

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Oh, and it also does radio. We’re running out of things to talk about, so best stop. It’s a great, great app. If you’re not yet running Android 2.2 it’s certainly something to look forward to.

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17 ResponsesLeave one →

  1. Hmm, no download option?
    iPlayer downloader+rockplayer=win

    Reply
  2. I am looking forward to this as the Beebplayer on my Desire is okay but lacks the video quality.

    Now I just need to wait for Froyo in September.

    Reply
  3. Arivind

     /  August 21, 2010

    Well I just went to the site on my Froyo enabled Nexus One complete with Flash only to be told my phone is not supported.

    Reply
  4. Seriously?

     /  August 23, 2010

    So let me get this straight…I can download iplayer programs on my 18 month old Nokia 5800, but I can’t on the latest and greatest Froyo enabled HTC phone?

    It’s progress, Jim, but not as we know it.

    Reply
    • John

       /  August 26, 2010

      It is somewhat bizarre the official iplayer app doesn’t allow you to download on android 2.2, but 3rd party apps such as MyPlayer allow downloading, streaming and catchup over wifi or 3G for free on Android 2.1 (and below for all I know). Nokia faviouritism, I say.

      Reply
  5. Stephen

     /  October 23, 2010

    Just got a new desire (2.2 & 10.1). With good wifi the iplayer site on the integrated browser & opera5.1 is nice. The flash streaming is smooth & navigation easy. With the option to stream fullscreen @ 800×480 it’s a good experience!

    One for the bookmarks.

    S

    Reply
  6. I have the HTC Desire HD – downloaded the latest version of Flash and am not able to access the BBC iPlayer mobile site – I have no bother accessing the full, Desktop website but it is not as finger friendly as the mobile version…How did you get access to the mobile version?

    Reply
  7. sorted – if the browser option is set to default to full desktop sites as opposed to mobile sites, the iplayer mobile site wont work. If you uncheck this setting and go to the iplayer mobile site, it works fine…that said, the video quality seems better on the desktop site so i may stick to using that although it is a bit fiddly even with a large screen!

    Reply
  8. peer

     /  December 7, 2010

    hi, can you explain how to set up the browser please?

    Reply
  9. nicevans

     /  December 28, 2010

    Why no downloads? Why oh why? Myplayer just updated itself and took out the best app.

    Reply
  1. Report: The BBC streamed 6400 iPlayer shows to Android devices in July » EuroDroid
  2. myPlayer taken out by the BBC – latest app update removes BBC content » Eurodroid
  3. BBC iPlayer app coming to Android as well as iPad – out this week! » Eurodroid
  4. BBC iPlayer app launched on Android Market » Eurodroid
  5. BBC iPlayer Android app review » Eurodroid

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