BBC took to Twitter today to let the world know that the iPlayer app for Android phones has been updated. What’s new? 3G streaming support and an updated player. Won’t you join us for a quick hands-on?
So the question is, does it work? The answer is yes. And no.
3G streaming works as advertised. Before you fire up your content you’ll be given a brief warning that streaming will eat into your data allowance which may result in additional charges. Once you brazenly disregard that message, your show will start playing.
3G is a funny thing. We live in a world of limited bandwidth, and when there’s not a lot of it available, BBC iPlayer doesn’t look too great. We found that out all too quickly when trying to stream over 3’s network, with poor resolution and bit starved video served up. BBC have several stages of quality available depending on how much bandwidth you do have at your fingertips, but it doesn’t adapt automatically like Netflix or Sky Go. You have to pray the planets are aligned correctly and keep trying your luck until you get the quality you want – there’s no way to manually select, either.
That’s really all there is to it. When you do have plenty of bandwidth on 3G or WiFi, content loads quickly, and can look good, but when things are congested, be prepared to put up with lacklustre video.