BBC Updates iPlayer App For Android, Promises It Will Continue To Get Better

The BBC has issued an update to its iPlayer app for Android, introducing a number of new features that include improved video performance over W-Fi, and support for smartphones and tablet running the latest Android 4.2 Jelly Bean software. It has also vowed to continue improving the app for Android users, though it notes that the process will take some time.

Today’s update to iPlayer includes the following:

– We’ve polished up the design of the app
– Video performance over Wi-Fi has been improved (with more improvements still to come)
– Added Android 4.2 Jelly Bean support
– You’ll find a new channel – BBC Alba

Those “improvements still to come” have been detailed on the BBC Internet Blog by David Price, who says the BBC has three goals for the iPlayer app, including:

1. Improve the playback experience.
2. Achieve feature parity between iOS and Android.
3. Support a variety of screen sizes.

“We’re not going to get there overnight,” Price notes, “however starting before Christmas and continuing over the coming months we have a series of releases that will make the BBC iPlayer experience on Android devices more appealing and engaging.”

Price explains that the BBC cannot take the same approach with iPlayer for Android as it has done with the iOS app, which is to use a “one-size-fits-all” approach to deliver high-quality video to iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches. Instead, it will group Android devices into different classifications based on their capabilities.

“For example, for devices which don’t support advanced video playback we will have to deliver lower quality video streams,” writes Price. “For devices with bigger screens and capable of advanced playback we’ll enable high quality video encodes along the lines of those on iOS devices.”

Frame from old video encode and frame from new improved video encode.

As well as improved video quality, the BBC was to bridge the gap between its Android and iOS releases. Price acknowledges that it has traditionally focused on iOS first because it’s simpler to develop for Apple’s platform, but going forward, the BBC is “working on filling gaps in feature and product parity at the same time.”

What’s more, the BBC will also be aiming to provide better support for a wider range of Android-powered smartphones and tablets, prioritizing the most popular devices first.

Of course, this is great news for those of you who regularly use iPlayer on Android. According to the BBC, the app’s been downloaded more than 1 million times since it was released three months ago, so it already has an impressive user base.