The BBC today announced the launch of a new beta version of its video on demand service - iPlayer.
The beta version (accessible here) delivers a range of new features. Amongst them, users will now be able so share iPlayer videos on Facebook or Twitter. Crucially the BBC also announced plans to integrate Microsoft's Windows Live Messenger service straight into iPlayer. The BBC has struck a partnership with Microsoft, allowing Windows Live Messenger users to log in via BBC iPlayer and watch content with their contacts at the same time and chat live. The BBC says the feature is experimental and will be available in the Summer. If the feature is successful then the BBC plans to roll this out to other instant messaging services.
Alongside the deal with Microsoft there is a heavy focus on Twitter and Facebook integration. Users can post programmes directly to their Facebook walls, share programs and tweet recommendations to friends. The iPlayer website has also been subject to a little tinkering. A cleaner user experience awaits beta users including quick channel hopping whilst watching live content. BBC Director of Future Media and Technology, Erik Huggers, said: "The launch of this version of the BBC iPlayer is part of our strategy to do fewer things even better and make it more simple, personal and connected. We must no longer try to do everything online, but focus on delivering genuinely world-class products like BBC iPlayer – which audiences love and which really embodies the BBC's core mission in a digital age."
The BBC has also updated the BBC iPlayer Desktop application to allow users to download their favourite programs in advance. The updated application takes advantage of Adobe Air and allows users to queue programs ready for download. The client shows users exactly when the download will become available for each TV show.