Apps from the BBC: The Beeb tells Neowin what (not) to expect

The British Broadcasting Corporation - affectionately known by many as The Beeb in the UK - is one of the most respected broadcasters in the world. BBC News has a global reputation for excellence, while BBC Sport demonstrated its extraordinary abilities with its coverage of the London 2012 Olympic Games. Hundreds of millions of viewers and listeners enjoy BBC content every day across the globe, so it's not surprising that there's a great hunger for official BBC apps on mobile devices too.

The Corporation released its latest app for BBC Sport on the iPhone and iPod Touch in the UK this week (available now from iTunes), and confirmed that an Android version is also in development - but many device owners will be eager to know whether similar apps will be available for their smartphones, tablets and PCs.

A BBC spokesperson shared a few nuggets of info regarding Auntie's plans for app development with Neowin - and for those without iOS and Android devices, it's not all good news.

We asked whether the BBC has any plans to develop native apps for Windows Phone or for the soon-to-launch BlackBerry 10 platform. The BBC explains: "The Android and Apple platforms account for approximately 75% of the UK smartphone market. Apps are costly to develop and maintain and, as a publicly funded organisation, we have to prioritise our development around the areas and platforms where we will achieve the greatest reach of users at the lowest cost."

So while Windows Phone maintains such low market share - and until BB10 grows its installed user base to a reasonable level - don't expect to see any apps developed for either platform. There is hope though: "We will continue to monitor patterns of handset and OS popularity and shape the roadmap for our apps accordingly." The BBC has also recently relaunched the mobile version of its website, with a more intuitive and touch-friendly interface, to provide better access on those devices that don't have apps available.

But what of Windows 8 and Windows RT? Despite launching just a few months ago, there are already tens of millions of tablets and PCs out there with the new-generation OSes installed, and many broadcasters and content providers - including the UK's Channel 4, with its new 4OD app - have already launched apps for the platform. Sadly, the news here isn't good either: "We are always looking at new and existing platforms to bring BBC iPlayer to, but have no plans to launch a native app for Windows 8 mobile devices in the immediate future."

But there is one bit of good news to share, for Xbox 360 users: "We aim to introduce Live Restart on Xbox Live in the future", suggesting that this feature - which enables live streaming to be paused and rewound by up to 2 hours - is already in development.

While it's a shame for Windows 8, Windows Phone and BlackBerry users that there are currently no plans for the BBC to develop apps for these platforms, Android and iOS users have plenty to look forward as development of apps continues to focus around these popular ecosystems.

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You're maybe a bit young. Whilst not the only name for the BBC (definitely not in my house) they even had a programme that used the name http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auntie%27s_Bloomers so it's not a work of fiction.

Anyway pull your finger out 60m copies of Win8 get the App written please. Cancel some of the dross shows to pay for it if necessary - I'd start with Radio 4 "comedy" if in doubt.

Why ask them about blackberry 10 support? Blackberrys numbers keep going down and down, that'd be like releasing half life just for linux in 1997 - you'd have less than 100 sales.

It's been known for a while that the big guys at BBC are iSh.. I mean Apple fans.

They were reluctant to support Android but finally gave in when it reached 60% marketshare worldwide. Yet for iPhone and iPad they release a wealth of apps.

Not to mention that you can't switch to the BBC without seeing a journalist take his iPhone out of his pocket to play with it.

So I guess the chances of seeing anything for Windows (Phone) are slim to none existent as it needs to get up to 60% marketshare before being considered. I imagine they were forced to build for Xbox 360 because it does enjoy similar exposure.

TBH TVCatchup & TunerFree are doing a good job on Windows 8, as a front the to iPlayer site. Snap-mode isn't great, but worth having.

I'd wouldn't want an iPlayer app instead of a Spotify app - now there's a bunch who need a kick up the Rs. Even their Android app is still woeful.

Mugwump00 said,
I'd wouldn't want an iPlayer app instead of a Spotify app - now there's a bunch who need a kick up the Rs. Even their Android app is still woeful.

Why would there ever be an Player app INSTEAD of a Spotify app? What have the two got to do with each other?

In terms of obeying the collective will of those who fund you, rather than dithering and using vague statistics to justify missing the boat.

I don't like attacking the BBC but their weird blend of (non-WinTel) PC box-checking and we're-all-hipsters-here pro-Apple corporate shilling is sickening. Seen any Apple logos taped-over? No. I expect Stephen Fry will get a 10 min drool-spot on these new apps somewhere soon. I'm vaguely sure there was an "The iPad Show" on Radio 4 last year. "That's on iTunes now..." as the say over-and-over on 6 Music.

Anyway, if they can re-dub Peppa Pig into Scottish (but not broadcast it in English!) they can bloody well afford to put out a 'modern' desktop version.

/andbreath...

"Anyway, if they can re-dub Peppa Pig into Scottish (but not broadcast it in English!) they can bloody well afford to put out a 'modern' desktop version."

That's a good point. The BBC seem to be able to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds in setting up and maintaining a Scottish Gaelic channel that is probably watched in the hundreds, or maybe thousands, however, you can bet your bottom dollar there are tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of Windows Phone 8 users in the UK that aren't getting BBC iPlayer, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of Windows 8/RT licenses that must have been sold already.

It's a simplistic view, I know, and really the money thing will be all to do with allocation by the money men there and clearly the department that handles the channels can command and justify a higher amount for their budget better than the department that handles their online operations.

So, in reality, there really needs to be a culture shift with the money men, who should see the online operations as a vital department as the broadcast ones and allocate the money accordingly.

So in conclusion, it's not surprising that the only development is for iOS and Android - that's realistically all that department can sensibly afford on the budget they are given.

Having said this, I was amazed to see Prof. Cox sporting an enormo-logo'd Samsung tablet on the star-gazing live thing. I wonder how many Android tablets they actually had - one on screen, one on-charge ready for the second half of the show, 1 hot-standby with the app completely loaded ready for the inevitable Force Close...

And yet the very first projected picture failed to show!

Sigh. The BBC need to think more long-term for once. While I can't be sure about Blackberry 10, we can be sure that at least Windows 8 and Windows RT will be widely used by the end of the year. The BBC need to start working on an app now so that they can be ready for the demand from users.

So the truth comes out. Nothing to do with no flash or other BS.. Just a matter of money.

All the while I am having no issue whatsoever getting iPlayer streamed to my Lumia 800 using Plex (now also for Windows8/RT) so who cares really. I am putting my 10Gb uplink at home to good use .

BBC is frequently called "Auntie" for those who seem to doubt this; hence program titles such as "Auntie's Bloomers" for their bloopers show.

BTW: The BBC did not do the TV coverage for the paralympics, this was done by Channel 4. BBC only did the Olympics.

Quite right. Another member also corrected me on that, and the article has now been updated. Many thanks.

Huh. Still no commitment to WP. I really don't want to watch Sky News - I want to watch BBC News via my mobile device.

Their argument is that they can't do WP because they can't deliver content with the same level of security that Flash/AIR can provide.

Yet they /do/ provide DRM'd WMV, and using Expression, could easily wrap the WMVs into a WP capable streamable solution - this could also be automated.

So 2007 all over again? Weird that they justify this when the service can be universally published using newer video distribution technologies that would no longer preclude devices or OSes from access.

In 2007 on WindowsXP was supported, people were up in arms, and development costs were put into supporting OS X and Linux. (A SMALLER percentage of users than Windows Phone and massively a smaller percentage than Windows RT/8.)

So Linux and OS X development was justified at A CONSIDERBLE cost, as we can see from the FIA releases.

However, now they get to dictate to consumers what devices taxpayer money approves, even with the % of user base was deemed no longer a reason to restrict access.

Wild stuff... And I though American politics was insane.

They didn't mention anything about video distribution technologies, purely the development and maintenance of apps. And for them, Windows Phone market share is too small to justify it.

Installed base of Windows Phone is nowhere near the installed base of Mac OS X and Linux back in 2007, so don't talk nonsense.

2007 is completely different from 2013, BTW, so even if the installed base was smaller, there was probably more money around to be able to justify it. In 2013, when everyone has a lot less money but there's even more platforms to cover, clearly not.

thenetavenger said,
So 2007 all over again? Weird that they justify this when the service can be universally published using newer video distribution technologies that would no longer preclude devices or OSes from access.

In 2007 on WindowsXP was supported, people were up in arms, and development costs were put into supporting OS X and Linux. (A SMALLER percentage of users than Windows Phone and massively a smaller percentage than Windows RT/8.)

So Linux and OS X development was justified at A CONSIDERBLE cost, as we can see from the FIA releases.

However, now they get to dictate to consumers what devices taxpayer money approves, even with the % of user base was deemed no longer a reason to restrict access.

Wild stuff... And I though American politics was insane.

I get Linux's marketshare on the desktop isn't worth pursuing but OS X's marketshare worldwide is around 8%ish isn't it? I might be wrong but WP isn't that high right now.

thenetavenger said,
So 2007 all over again? Weird that they justify this when the service can be universally published using newer video distribution technologies that would no longer preclude devices or OSes from access.

In 2007 on WindowsXP was supported, people were up in arms, and development costs were put into supporting OS X and Linux. (A SMALLER percentage of users than Windows Phone and massively a smaller percentage than Windows RT/8.)

So Linux and OS X development was justified at A CONSIDERBLE cost, as we can see from the FIA releases.

However, now they get to dictate to consumers what devices taxpayer money approves, even with the % of user base was deemed no longer a reason to restrict access.

Wild stuff... And I though American politics was insane.


Surely the only reason Linux and OSX have iPlayer is because they moved it to the Adobe AIR platform rather than native? Although I think AIR dropped support for Linux some time ago...

testman said,
They didn't mention anything about video distribution technologies, purely the development and maintenance of apps. And for them, Windows Phone market share is too small to justify it.

Installed base of Windows Phone is nowhere near the installed base of Mac OS X and Linux back in 2007, so don't talk nonsense.

2007 is completely different from 2013, BTW, so even if the installed base was smaller, there was probably more money around to be able to justify it. In 2013, when everyone has a lot less money but there's even more platforms to cover, clearly not.

BBC Lincence fee is £145.50 explain why Windows users are subsidising iPhone and Android apps, BBC services which they are excluded from?

Deviate_X said,

BBC Lincence fee is £145.50 explain why Windows users are subsidising iPhone and Android apps, BBC services which they are excluded from?


How are Windows users excluded from accessing BBC iPlayer?

BBC has often been called Auntie before.

As a publicly funded organisation - perhaps they can close down Radio 3 or Radio 4 since so few people listen and the stations are expensive to run. Maybe close BBC2 and the Asian Network too since they have such small audiences......etc

Maybe it's time the BBC was privatised and hence they can stop wasting audience money on pet projects and technologies they choose to support rather than what their customers are asking for !!

Not sure where you get your listening figures from but Radio 2, 3 and 4 are as popular as ever. Just because you may not listen to them.

I believe the BBC are developing these products as a large number of their customers want to receive media on these devices. Not an unusual idea!

You may have missed the point there. Lets say Radio 3, 6Music and the Asia Network then. Are these AS POPULAR as Radio 1? If the answer is No then it doesn't matter whether I like them, listen to them or jack. If BBC decides to support only the most popular two then the others are out.

I believe the BBC are developing these stations despite not having large audiences which runs contrary to your argument above, although possibly in line with their charter. I wonder if there charter suggests they should discriminate against certain platforms?? Say Windows 8 will be on around 250m licenses this time next year should they then drop idevices and android under their own interpretation of the rules?

The point is that because every one has to pay a licence fee, then everyone has a right to have content that they will enjoy. Its about giving the hole public some content that they can engage with.

Kirkburn - get some perspective. I did point out in the reply "Radio 3, 6Music and Asia Network" to illustrate the principle rather than the specifics. Anyway the point remains - Beeb are arbitrarily choosing to support platforms - Linux/osx being minor players in the scheme of things when Windows was dominant.

Anyway now we have this http://www.neowin.net/news/mic...d-100-million-app-downloads can we have an app please Beeb?

I have perspective: iPlayer is *already* working well on Windows 8 ... just via a browser. Therefore, the app simply isn't as high priority.

Anyway, radio stations versus app platforms isn't really a comparable thing. Radio is content itself, the apps are a method of consuming it

So we'll be able to watch Live BBC channels on our Xbox, with the ability to rewind up to 2 hours? Awesome! Glad my tax money is being well spent on something worth while for once.
Just need ITV Player now (which was forecasted for end of 2012?), and then I can start using the Xbox as a set-top box. If rumors are true and we get a "dumbed down" app / arcade only Xbox this year... win!

Edited by Crisp, Jan 8 2013, 1:14pm :

Is there anything actually worth watching on ITV though?

I watched the FA Cup 3rd round highlights on the ITV Player the other day (using Tunlr), but apart from that...?