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BBC’s final release of new iPlayer for TV brings back some old favourites

Hot on the heels of the BBC revamping its iPlayer service for Sky, the broadcaster has taken its iPlayer TV application out of preview.

The TV upgrade was released on preview 10 weeks ago but the final version has been fine-tuned with some features reinstated that had been removed.

These included returning full functionality the back button when it emerged that viewers used it more than expected, and more standardisation to make the experience more consistent.

BBC's final release of new iPlayer for TV brings back some old favourites
Back is back in the latest version of iPlayer for TV

Marcus Parnwell, executive product manager in charge of BBC iPlayer, said: “We have spent the last 10 weeks working through the feedback you have provided and adding some final polish to ensure it is to the high standard expected of BBC iPlayer.

“We always aim to minimise clutter and functionality that isn’t being used – but because we weren’t entirely sure, rather than remove it completely, we did put in a few minimal back journeys to see how they would be used – turns out quite a lot!

“Consequently, we have now restored full hierarchical back journeys so you can navigate back through the application and even exit with the back button.”

Increased standardistation included expanding episodes vertically instead of horizintally in the Category A-Zs, which also makes it easier to get back.

Favourites have also been updated after viewers said they were frustrated by the limited number available on the new iPlayer, although Parnwell said the total would still be reduced because iPlayer is moving to a ‘location storage model’ and they need to preserve their server infrastructure.

Some viewers said the new version was slower than the old one, so the technical team has been working to slim down the application and remove any memory leaks which hog smart TVs’ often limited resources.

Viewers should see the new iPlayer for TV as a simpler interface with a few visual changes to speed up the app.

“There is no doubt this new version is more graphically rich and requires more from your device. However we are keenly aware that TV viewing is primarily a visual experience, and since we built the first version of iPlayer for TVs, the capability of devices has taken a big step on,” Parwell added.

With the HTML5 iPlayer for smart TVs updated, the next version to benefit will be the Flash-based players on YouView and Virgin Media Tivo later this year, with Xbox 360 and Now TV upgrades in the pipeline as well as many others.

However, there’s no comfort for fans of radio streaming on the TV iPlayer, who have been told they’ll have to rely on the mobile and web apps.

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