The BBC announced today they will be releasing standalone iPhone applications for their news and sport content this April with Blackberry and Android versions to follow.
In a move that some will say is well overdue, the BBC will move into developing applications for mobile devices as smart phone usage continues to rise.
Disappointly from a personal point of view, Erik Huggers, director of future media and technology didn’t mention any possibility of a standalone iPlayer app in addition to the current iPhone optimised site.
“Today’s announcement means that we are catching up with our audiences,” speaking at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. In relation to the BBC’s licence fee payers, he declared that they “want to access the digital services that they have paid for at a time and place that suits them”.
The applications will include audio and video content as well as providing the ability for users to send in comments and pictures in a similar vein to Sky’s News free application which has been available for some time now.
Watch the World Cup live on your phone
Excitingly, the Sports application will be arriving in time for World Cup in South Africa this June, and will feature live video and audio commentary meaning you won’t miss a moment!
One potential drawback is that I suspect, is that you’ll have to be connected to Wi-fi to take advantage of any live video streaming that these apps provide as is the case with the aforementioned iPhone optimised version of the iPlayer site.
With ad supported international versions and Formula 1 content arriving later in the year, the BBC are certainly catching up with their competitors such as Sky and The Guardian that have already entered this space with well developed and popular editions.
On the iPad?
With the BBC developing for the iPhone, it wouldn’t surprise many if they were also developing a bespoke iPad version using the recently released development kit and would further revolutionise the way we access and interact with the BBC’s content.
Hopefully the recently announced budget cuts to the BBC digital arms won’t be a potential stumbling block with this but with standalone applications for the iPhone and iPad, the BBC could see further take up of these on demand content services.
Licence fee payers
From a licence payers perspective, as Huggers mentions, it will provide increased value for those who feel they should be able to access the BBC’s content wherever and whenever they are. With Blackberry and Android versions on the way, the BBC are catering for the most used mobile operating systems and sure it will see high take up when their released.