My blog seems to have been turned into an iPlayer love in lately – or at the very least a BBC screenshot fest. Well I might as well keep it up for a little bit longer.
Yesterday I brought you a screenshot of the iPlayer Radio – the integration of iPlayer with the old BBC Radio Player. Today, the first screenshot I have for you is the Radio button on the iPlayer website itself.
If you look closely at the screenshot above you’ll see that, instead of the usual small picture and download link you get with the iPlayer (well not in Firefox) you’ve got a big picture that fills the box and a Play button.
That’s because this is the Firefox friendly, streaming version of iPlayer – it’s basically using Flash and it’s not bad quality. Here’s another screenshot for you.
You can see above that you get a large flash video window, the network graphic (in this case BBC Two) and a brief bio about that episode and its duration. As this is in Firefox it tells me the download isn’t available. In IE it would give you a big download button.
You don’t need to install anything other than flash to watch shows on the iPlayer – this is how it should have been from the start. It’s now 100 times better than 4OD and ITV.com – I can just use it straight out of the bag.
The streaming is impressive, the flash video is pretty good quality and a good size as well (much larger than You Tube). You get the channel ident first and then the show itself starts. It takes a while to load properly but it must be a fairly large encode.
You can even share iPlayer videos – you can’t embed them but you can post the video to Dig, Facebook et al and you get a link to e-mail it to people or post it on your blog.
This is something the BBC seem to have been doing a lot on music based website lately – for example the Later with Jools Holland site lets you embed and share the link on social sites.
All in all this is a pretty good achievement – it’s what the Beeb should have done from the get go – I think the flash streaming is good enough that they could even just drop the download version. After all – why wait two hours to download something you could watch right now and will be there to watch anytime for up to a week.
The only reason I can see for downloading a show is if I know I won’t get to watch it for two or three weeks – the downloads will be alive for 30 days as long as you don’t start watching them.
It’s stream all the way for me – that’s why until now I prefered the 4OD and ITV.com – they basically let me press play and watch the shows straight away – even if Channel 4 do make me install their crappy software to do it. And the downside to ITV.com is that its Windows Media and requires me to install a codec or something first.
The iPlayer is now a thing of wonder – I go to bbc.co.uk/iplayer, find the show I missed, press play and watch it – that is how it should work, that’s the BBC working well. That’s brilliant simplicity.
Here is another screenshot of iPlayer working at full screen – just for fun.