The BBC has today released its BBC iPlayer app for Apple iPhone and iPod touch devices, introducing 3G streaming across all mobile networks.

The mobile app also offers enhanced features to help improve the live TV and radio experience. With ‘Live Channel Hopping’, users can switch between live channels just like on their TV. And with background listening, audiences will be able to listen to live radio in the background while they are using their phone.

Whilst the introduction of 3G streaming to the iPlayer app will be great news for fans of native apps, later this week 3G streaming will also become available across a range of iPlayer mobile Web devices, meaning other mobile OS users will be able to watch catch-up TV on the move too.

Key features of the new BBC iPlayer app include:

  • Live TV and radio with easy channel switching
  • 3G streaming across all mobile networks
  • Background listening
  • Improved playback with greater resilience to network congestion
  • Improved user experience with a simple and intuitive design

Mobile users of the service across all platforms have thus far been largely restricted to accessing iPlayer over WiFi, with 3G streaming available only on selected networks, so this move will open up the service to many millions more users on the move across the UK.

Daniel Danker, BBC’s General Manager, Programmes and On Demand, said:

“This has been a great year for BBC iPlayer on mobile with over 1.5 million installs on the Apple iPad and 1.2 million installs on Android devices since launch in February 2011. People love using BBC iPlayer on mobiles and tablets, and with 16.5 million programmes watched in October 2011 usage has more than doubled over the last year. With the new app audiences will enjoy catch up and live TV in a simple, easy-to-use mobile experience. Today’s announcement also means more licence fee payers can enjoy a better experience when using BBC iPlayer on the move, and reflects our ambition to take BBC iPlayer beyond the desktop. We have worked closely with mobile operators to ensure that their networks are ready for iPlayer, and introduced 3G streaming to offer licence fee payers a truly mobile experience.”

BBC iPlayer, the BBC’s video on demand service, has been a massive success in the UK since it launched in 2007, and in September 2011 it received 153 million requests for TV and Radio programmes across all platforms.

Back in August, we reported on the BBC’s plans for iPlayer in the future, as it seeks to take it beyond the tech-savvy, beyond catch-up and beyond the PC. Whilst a fifth of the UK online population use iPlayer, the BBC is really looking to open it up to the masses, so a dedicated iPhone app with 3G streaming will go some way towards encouraging uptake.

You can download the free iPlayer app for iPhone and iPod Touch now.