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Hands-On: BBC iPlayer on iPad

It’s finally here. Getting the one point out of the way first, this sadly isn’t a full substitute for the desktop BBC iPlayer- well at least not just yet.

Although the Beeb have promised future additions to the iPlayer app, there’s currently no ability  to download or pre-stream a programme yet. This means you’ll need a good, stable WiFi signal to make full use of the iPlayer.

The front of the app is a WinPho7-esque magazine of BBC’s televisual highlights. From there, you can then explore BBC channels and programmes by categories or by search.

The radio live stream is pretty reliable- we listened to two hours of Chris Moyles with no noticeable problems, unless you have one with Moyles. The screen could do with adding a bit of visual spice to the streaming pages- unlike the on-demand shows, at the moment it’s just a static radio station logo, and no details on the currently playing show.

Playing the live stream of BBC 1 was generally smooth- but did need to pause to stream once or twice as we watched Wanted Down Under. (We do love a bit of morning telly.) We say pause, but the video still will disappear while the app attempts to reload what was playing.

In an attempt to put the iPad through its paces with on-demand video, we thought we’d try a full film – and we ended up with Cattle Queen of Montana (it stars former US president, Ronald Reagan, so it must be good.)

On-demand, it began to play in under 10 seconds on standard quality and high quality took a few seconds more.

Subtitles are also available- click on the tiny “S” in the bottom right corner. Similarly you can change between standard and high-definition by pressing the “HQ” icon.

The BBC iPlayer has just gone live on Android devices at the time of writing, so we’ll be back with another hands-on later today.



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