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Old Dec 20, 2011, 12:55 PM   #1
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BBC Developers on Designing the New iPlayer for iPhone




Last week, the BBC introduced its iPlayer for iPhone app for UK television license payers. The app allows domestic viewers to view live BBC TV and radio and watch catch-up TV over Wi-Fi and 3G.

It's a major app in the UK and was downloaded 1.1 million times in its first week of availability, with 500,000 of those downloads to users who had never downloaded the iPlayer app previously. The BBC told the Guardian newspaper that 16.5 million programs have been watched on the mobile version of iPlayer thus far this year, up 129 percent year-over-year.




Chris Elphick, senior designer leading the BBC iPlayer iPhone App project, lays out the thoughts and processes behind the design of the iPlayer for iPhone UI. For a major project that will be used by millions of people, extensive testing and design is necessary to make the app both easy-to-use and to avoid unnecessarily taxing 3G and Wi-Fi networks.
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Earlier I mentioned the opportunities that designing for mobile offers us. One, of course is the ability to change orientation. There was a frequent debate within the design team as to the importance of portrait versus landscape - whether or not it was helpful, necessary or even pleasing to present content differently in a landscape view compared to portrait.

We explored multiple possibilities for landscape views dependent on where you are within the app. In early designs we considered showing as much content as possible in a single view but we felt it wasn't taking full advantage of the screen real estate, nor presenting anything new.

User research, told us that certain users including those who are dyslexic liked the simplicity of a more visual menu with fewer options.
BBC iPlayer is a universal app for iPhone and iPad, free on the App Store for United Kingdom users only. [Direct Link]

The BBC global iPlayer app, which was updated earlier this month, is available in most of Western Europe and Canada -- and is coming to the United States. The app doesn't have the Live-TV, DVR and TV catch-up features that the British version does -- instead, it's a video-on-demand subscription service that gives access to selected portions of the BBC archive.

Article Link: BBC Developers on Designing the New iPlayer for iPhone
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Old Dec 20, 2011, 02:03 PM   #2
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It's awesome just how fast the BBC has caught up and is now defining online viewing of TV shows. Definitely welcome the iPlayer app, good use of license fee payers money.
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Old Dec 20, 2011, 02:07 PM   #3
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On a related issue, video stories on the BBC News site will now play on the iPad. So they've ditched Flash presumably.

Edit: And on iPhone too.

Last edited by testcard; Dec 20, 2011 at 02:15 PM.
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Old Dec 20, 2011, 02:09 PM   #4
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Really interesting article.
Since the iPod app launch I've been watching more content on the iPlayer. Much better than using that web interface.
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Old Dec 20, 2011, 03:11 PM   #5
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It's a shame the iplayer apps a so unstable and unreliable. It seems the developers don't bother to test the apps on beta releases of iOS so there is a massive lead between iOS updates and the iplayer actually working properly. I've reported bugs and I never get a response. For a while I was beta testing for them on the last update. The guy was so retarded he emailed me a link to the app on his own computer. FAIL.
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Old Dec 20, 2011, 03:19 PM   #6
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It's a shame they didn't implement AirPlay properly - as a result it only works on iPad 2 and iPhone 4s.

I'm also not sure why they felt the need to have their own design for the play controls - why not use the standard video controls made available by Apple - less confusing and more consistent for users!
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Old Dec 20, 2011, 04:05 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Primus84 View Post
It's a shame they didn't implement AirPlay properly - as a result it only works on iPad 2 and iPhone 4s.

I'm also not sure why they felt the need to have their own design for the play controls - why not use the standard video controls made available by Apple - less confusing and more consistent for users!
It does work on older devices but like standard apps work. You have to get the iPod controls up, then tap the airplay icon and select the apple tv and then when you play something it'll be on the apple tv.
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Old Dec 20, 2011, 04:06 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Merthyrboy View Post
It does work on older devices but like standard apps work. You have to get the iPod controls up, then tap the airplay icon and select the apple tv and then when you play something it'll be on the apple tv.
How do you get the iPod controls up? I've tried tapping but I get the custom iPlayer video tools. - [EDIT] - if you mean double tap the home button etc. then you don't get the airplay icon on older devices.
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Last edited by Primus84; Dec 20, 2011 at 04:14 PM.
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Old Dec 20, 2011, 04:25 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Primus84 View Post
How do you get the iPod controls up? I've tried tapping but I get the custom iPlayer video tools. - [EDIT] - if you mean double tap the home button etc. then you don't get the airplay icon on older devices.
On iPhone 4 and iPad 1 double-tap the home button, swipe left twice and the AirPlay selection is there. The app can't be installed on iPod Touch 2.
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Old Dec 20, 2011, 04:26 PM   #10
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On iPhone 4 and iPad 1 double-tap the home button, swipe left twice and the AirPlay selection is there. The app can't be installed on iPod Touch 2.
You learn something new, I didn't realise you could double swipe left - is that different to the 4s and iPad 2 - do they have it on single swipe left?

Thanks!
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Old Dec 20, 2011, 04:28 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by testcard View Post
On a related issue, video stories on the BBC News site will now play on the iPad. So they've ditched Flash presumably.

Edit: And on iPhone too.
The BBC news iPhone/iPad app is a lot better than the website and video has been available on it for a while.
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Old Dec 20, 2011, 04:47 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Primus84 View Post
You learn something new, I didn't realise you could double swipe left - is that different to the 4s and iPad 2 - do they have it on single swipe left?

Thanks!
Its just a single swipe on the iPad as the control bar is wider so it can fit in all the controls.
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Old Dec 21, 2011, 03:42 AM   #13
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Daft question but is it possible to change the region i am in i am no were near london so london news is no use to me
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Old Dec 21, 2011, 04:45 AM   #14
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Its times like this I just love the BBC. A brilliantly dynamic company, well worth my licence fee.
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Old Dec 21, 2011, 11:27 AM   #15
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Here in the US, we've demonstrated that our country is incapable of producing a news channel.

BBC, pleeease?
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Old Dec 21, 2011, 12:38 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by ThunderSkunk View Post
Here in the US, we've demonstrated that our country is incapable of producing a news channel.

BBC, pleeease?
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world/us_and_canada/

That's the best you're going to get
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Old Dec 21, 2011, 12:45 PM   #17
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So *that's* what Bob in Marketing does all day.

"plan by others"

"sync when we have data connection"
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Old Dec 22, 2011, 07:59 PM   #18
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Praise the lord! Subtitles now work on the iPhone!

Thanks BBC for paying attention to accessibility issues. I hope other publically funded media take due notice. Government websites, I'm looking at you.
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