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iPlayer App for Android available now, but it’s buggy

iplayer android

Mobile site still a better option than app

The long-awaited BBC iPlayer app for Android phones is here. You can now download it from the Android Market, as long as you have both Android 2.2 and Flash 10.1 installed.

Once the iPlayer app is installed on your phone you’ll need to switch to a WiFi connection in order to play any content, as it doesn’t support 3G connections. It’s a shame, as the standard iPlayer mobile website does.

Browsing programmes to watch is easy, as buttons at the top let you pick between TV, Radio and Favourites. The front page shows featured shows, slide to the right and you get Most popular, and slide to the right again and you get ‘For you’, which should update the shows based on the content you want. A long-press on any programme lets you either share it with friends or add it to your favourites.

A search icon at the top lets you find a programme, although you can also press the Search button on Android handsets. Switching to live programming just requires hitting the menu and selecting the Live button. You then get a list, by channel or radio station, of what’s on now. Sadly, you can’t see what’s on in the future.

Watching content just involves tapping it with your finger. Sadly, it’s at this point that things start to go wrong. On our Nexus One we found that video was incredibly jerky and pretty much unwatchable; this is strange, as this handset plays video perfectly well when visiting the mobile site. Switching to an HTC Desire HD we found that video would play smoothly, but the on-screen display to show the time remaining was corrupted.

With both phones we found that this status bar, which also has the controls for video playback, would often stick on screen rather than sliding out of sight. Ultimately, this ruined our enjoyment of mobile video.

As it stands in our tests, you need to have a really powerful Android phone to get smooth video, and even then other bugs get in the way. The current mobile site is better.

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