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BBC iPlayer

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There are some minor flaws and omissions, but there’s just so much to love here.

BBC iPlayer Review

by on April 22, 2011

Hooray! We’ve waited far too long for the BBC iPlayer to be available in app form, but here it is. And it’s been worth the wait, letting you enjoy live and catch-up BBC TV and radio on your iPad.

At present, you can’t download shows, nor is there an iPhone or iPod touch version, so you’ll need to use the iPlayer website on those devices. Your iPad must to be connected to the web over Wi-Fi as well, so forget 3G viewing (though it will work with a MiFi modem). Finally, of course, it’s only available in the UK, although an international version is being mooted.

You’re greeted by the gorgeous Featured programmes screen with its selection of show thumbnails. What’s not immediately clear is that you can scroll sideways to see more – a great feature once you know it’s there.

Provided you’re on a decent-speed connection, video quality  is superb. On lower bandwidth, the app drops the quality accordingly to ensure it delivers constant video. Subtitles are available on catch-up shows but not live TV, and radio content will play in the background, so you can do other stuff on your iPad while you listen. The app can also output radio over AirPlay, but not video yet. We expect iOS 4.3, which could well be out by the time you read this, will enable video over AirPlay.

Most shows’ info pages list related programmes, although this doesn’t tell you what episode of a series you’re tapping. If you tap the wrong one, the Back button annoyingly doesn’t always return you to the previous screen, sometimes taking you to the app’s main screen instead.

Something else we’re less than  keen on is how live TV is hidden away. You tap the Channels button to see a browsable grid listing past and upcoming programmes. Tapping the show that’s on now will play it live. This makes sense, but we’d have liked to see live TV given its own button in one of the toolbars as well to give you a quick visual overview of what’s on now. It’s a key feature of the app, since the website version doesn’t enable live TV on iOS, so why hide it?

Download this app: iPlayer for iPad

Best iPad apps | Apple iPad 2 review

Review courtest of Tap!

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