Can the iPlayer actually get any better than it already is? Apparently so, as the BBC is readying iPlayer 3.0. What’s more, an iPad-friendly version of the site has gone live, just in time for the Apple tablet’s debut in the U.K.
The third generation of the iPlayer is almost ready, and the BBC is already offering a beta version for people to try out and give feedback on. Not all the features are yet present, but it’s looking good at this stage.
The upgrades are described as iPlayer boss Anthony Rose’s “parting gift”, as he’s heading off to work on Project Canvas.
New & Improved
The beta version of iPlayer 3.0 can be tried here. And the makeover is both a visual one and full of new features. Social networking and interactive elements are now an important part of the online video on-demand service.
Social viewing is coming to the iPlayer, with Instant Messaging integrated into the service to enable people to watch a show together. Windows Live Messenger is the first service to be integrated, but Skype, Facebook, and Google could be added over time.
Facebook and Twitter do get a look in though, with viewers able to link their social networking profiles with the BBC iD. They can then share recommendations on these sites with friends who have done on the same.
Shows can now be marked as a favorite, meaning the latest episode of that show is presented to you on opening the iPlayer. Some tweaks have also been made to the user interface to make viewing live TV easier. This comes with the World Cup due to start next month.
As promised by Erik Huggers earlier in the week, the beta version of the iPlayer is now iPad-friendly. And that comes at a good time, with the iPad being released in the U.K. today, as well as in Japan, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, and Canada.
The iPlayer has been made iPad-friendly by delivering video in the HTML5 standard encoded in H.264. This is necessary as the Apple tablet doesn’t currently support Adobe Flash, which is what the BBC uses for its streaming Web video version of the iPlayer.
It looks as though the iPad version of the iPlayer is the same as the one available on the PS3 and other big screen devices. The BBC is also considering releasing a dedicated iPlayer app for the iPad, but is facing a legal challenge from several newspapers.
The iPlayer continues to go from strength to strength, and the new features look to be well-thought out and well-implemented. And with the new version being iPad-friendly, I can see the viewing figures improving considerably.
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