Tag Archives: bbc

BBC replaces Flash with Flash in Android iPlayer

The BBC has announced its solution to the lack of mobile Flash on Android devices, which meant that its iPlayer catch-up service did not work on recent devices like Google’s popular Nexus 7 (though there are hacks to make it work).

However, the BBC is not really replacing Flash, but instead creating a media player that is compiled from Flash into a native Android app. This means that the Flash runtime is compiled into the app.

In the end, Flash was still the best choice of media format for us to use. And the only practical technology for us to play this format back on Android is Adobe Air.

says the BBC’s Chris Yanda.

Yanda points out that using HTTP Live Streaming is impractical since it is not supported on versions of Android prior to Honeycomb; and the majority of Android devices in use are Froyo or Gingerbread.

Judging by the comments, users are glad to have something but disappointed with the BBC’s support for Android. The native iOS app is much better, especially considering that it now supports downloads. On a recent flight I took an iPad with me solely for the ability to watch iPlayer content offline.

Microsoft’s forthcoming Windows RT tablets will support Flash, as I understand it, though only for a limited subset of web sites. Presuming BBC iPlayer is on that list, it should work.

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Dear BBC: please give us mobile apps for offline viewing

The BBC has announced apps for Android and iPad, sparking a bad-tempered discussion (see the comments) in which users complain about two things:

1. The requirement for Flash 10.1 or higher on Android, which limits it to Android 2.2

2. The fact that catch-up viewing is only available on-demand, as on the Web, and not for offline viewing.

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Both are interesting points, but to my mind the first is the biggest deal. As one of the commenters observes:

As people have pointed out you can use the web interface to watch so using up valuable memory on a phone for an app that does the same thing essentially is not very useful!

By contrast, the ability to download two or three programmes for viewing on the train or plane would be a huge feature. Downloaded video is also more robust even when you are online, thanks to the variability of typical wifi or 3G connections.

Storage is an issue, but not such a bad one now that cards with 16GB or more are commonplace. My HTC Desire currently has 14GB free on the storage card – plenty for a few videos in quality suitable for a tiny screen.

Apple’s devices do not support add-on storage cards, but even the cheapest iPhone 4 has 16GB of storage, as does the iPad.

Failing that, I would rather see the BBC invest in optimising its web site for mobile, rather than creating apps that add little value. See my earlier post, Why I don’t want to view bbc.co.uk through an app.

Too much to ask? The BBC’s Nick Reynolds promises a follow-up post next week, so perhaps we will discover then.