The BBC released their own native android app for BBC iPlayer today so we’ve decided to run it through its paces to see how well it performs.
I should just state now that this is an Android version 2.2 and higher only application as it requires flash to stream the audio/video. So if your android phone only runs 2.1 or below, can I strongly suggest that you visit the forums at XDA Developers and look at rooting + upgrading your phone as 2.2 (or 2.3 if your phone is one of the lucky ones) is well worth the time and effort.
BBC iPlayer has been available to android 2.2 devices for a while now through the included web browser, so why give us a native application?
First off, lets look at the interface.
The image on the left is from the web version of BBC iPlayer and the one on the right is from the native app.
In the web version, the search, channels and categories function are listed under the section you are viewing, e.g. TV, Radio. In the android app, the search button is on the top right (the magnifying glass) and the menu button is the one next to it (the three straight lines). The TV section is also split into 3 pages, featured, popular and for you, where as the web version is all on the same page. When the menu button is pressed, you get presented with the following menu.
The categories and the channels choices are the same as the web browser, but the native app gives you the choice of choosing live TV as well. Now this choice is an added bonus over the web version.
Streaming live seems to work very well and doesn’t take long to load (this is of course dependent on how good your wifi is and how fast your internet connection is) although if you’re having problems, the video quality can be switched from medium (500kbps) to low quality (400kbps) in the settings menu. The video quality can also be increased to high (800kbps), which functioned perfectly fine on my N1.
The categories and channel sections function the same as the web site version of BBC iPlayer.
The radio section, like the TV section, gives you featured, popular and for you. When the radio menu button is pressed, the option of categories, stations and live radio get presented.
These three categories act the same as the TV section.