Thursday, December 13, 2007

mac "compatible" iPlayer limps in

An early Christmas present of sorts for MacHeads (I guess that's us). The BBC iPlayer, previously not for Macs, as so frequently noted here, is due for a relaunch on Christmas Day in a Mac compatible version.

The beta version has soft-launched today. The interface is the same across all platforms, I believe, and has been slightly re-worked from the original beta. For Mac and Linux based users, it's a streaming-only service, which uses Flash (.swf files).

It works OK-ish. For full-screen playback you need the latest Flash 9, and there's a link on the BBC iPlayer site. Bizarrely you have to choose Intel or PPC downloads (Adobe don't know how to find out??). Quality is grainy full-screen on my MBPro, nowhere near as good as streamed H.264 files from the Apple site, but acceptable for that programme you missed and have to see. I don't know how they are encoded yet - all I can see are .swf files, which could contain any standard. Different programmes may be at different quality levels? Not all content appears to be streamable - this may be just a teething period, I guess, as they update the libraries of files on launch. Obviously you'll need broadband, and the speed of your broadband link may be critical. (Not to mention any data limits on your account).

Find it at http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/

There's also an updated version of the BBC Radio player on the same site.