The BBC has released a beta of its popular iPlayer service that will allow Mac and Linux users to download programs and keep them for up to 30 days (or seven, after playing for the first time). The new version has been developed using Adobe AIR, one of Adobe's latest applications, allowing content to run outside of the browser, instead of it being embedded in a Flash player.
As each platform requires a different DRM technology, mobile, Linux, and Mac users have been missing out on the download feature that Windows users have had for over a year now. Whilst programmes can be streamed by any platform which will run Adobe Flash player, the download feature has had to be customised for each platform.
When plans were first made for the iPlayer service, the BBC Trust stated that it must be "platform neutral", which means that other, unsupported platforms can hope to receive support in the future. The BBC has also been working with ISPs in order to reduce the bandwidth demands of the service, by means such as using caching boxes ? stores at the ISP's end which cache copies of the most popular programs in order to reduce bandwidth usage.
The software beta is available from the BBC iPlayer Lab section, and a finished version is expected in February 2009, although it's not clear whether the Adobe AIR version will replace the current Windows one or not.