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Revised BBC iPlayer Emerges from Beta

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The new version of the BBC iPlayer has launched today, following a four month beta period. The BBC said in on its blog that the main aim of the new version was to provide a simple method of accessing the increased feature count, which includes integrated social networking with Facebook and Twitter.

James Hewines, head of BBC iPlayer, said that the BBC had been cautious in its approach to these enhancements. “While some users are generally receptive to change (especially where it brings obvious benefits) others may be more cautious,” he said. “The key design challenge was to add in these richer, more interactive capabilities without detracting from the overall simplicity of the experience.”

“The primary design challenge was to elegantly weave the new functionality and features into the iPlayer fabric while keeping the user interface simple,” wrote Fabian Birgfeld, head of product planning at the BBC’s Future Media and technology department.

“In a nutshell {the new iPlayer} offers new functionality in a new user interface that aims to make it easier for our audience to find what they want to watch or listen to. Streamlined navigation, new functionality and a new taxonomy will enable our audience to find more, quicker giving them more time to enjoy the content.”



The other key aspect was personalisation with For You, My Categories and Favourites sections being added to the interface. However, these will only appear to users though as they continue to access the iPlayer. “The different features are revealed over time as users engage with the content rather than all at once potentially overwhelming them,” Birgfeld wrote.

The blog also explained some of the beta’s teething troubles, such as the extended buffering periods, which derives from the adaptive streaming system switches from one Content Delivery network to another, and said that it has solved the issue of downloaded content going missing. However, it was revealed that the ability to download future episodes of favourite programmes automatically was not yet ready – a feature that was available in the beta, but just didn’t work.

Charles Tigges, Senior Business Development Manager for FM&T, hinted at future developments, stating the it was straightforward to bring the big screen iPlayer to internet connected TVs, and that the team was keeping a close eye of IP TV delivery platforms.

“We are waiting to see what connected TV platforms like project canvas (in which the BBC is a shareholder), Apple TV, Sky, Virgin Media and others can offer in this regard.”

Link: BBC Internet blog

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