It took a while to arrive, but BBC iPlayer on iPad is one of the best apps around. It allows iPad users in the UK to catch up on the wealth of content, and amazing quality, and also listen via AirPlay on a Zeppelin Air.
The BBC iPlayer has revolutionised the way lots of people watch TV. Yes, there are lots of streaming and download services out there, but none are as easy to use, content rich and – if you live in the UK at least – free. A wealth of television delights are just a click or two away, and while it may not have whole comedy series on there in the same way you get with the ‘TV channels’ on YouTube, there’s enough high-quality programming to keep you very happy.
Just while writing this review, we watched PJ Harvey on Later… with Jools Holland, a few bits of Citizen Kane and some of the excellent drama Exile. Image quality is very impressive, while the audio, either through a pair of P5 headphones, or else via AirPlay using a Zeppelin Air is of excellent quality.
Using AirPlay also allows two people to watch a show at the same time – sitting close to the iPad the screen is large enough. This makes it a more communal pleasure, rather than the solitary pleasure of headphones, or even the incredibly tinny iPad speakers.
Then there’s the radio options. Streaming either live, or else from the featured highlights, the iPad/Zeppelin Air combo is a great method of getting digital radio, and the audio performance is first rate.
There are two downsides. Firstly, you can only stream using iPlayer on the iPad, you can’t download the content in the same way you can with the computer-based version. This makes if tricky to use while travelling, which is a bit of a shame, as it would have been ideal for passing away the long commute.
Secondly, like many apps out there it isn’t quite AirPlay ready. What we mean by this is that the AirPlay logo does not appear on the volume bar. However, there is a quick workaround. Simply select the iPod function on your iPad, select your Zeppelin Air speaker, exit without playing anything and then play the BBC iPlayer. There’s no shame in this, as many apps, including BBC’s iPlayer, currently require the same workaround.
These caveats aside, the BBC iPlayer app for the iPad is well worth adding to your app list in the UK. And, for those people that live outside the borders, the BBC is working on an international version, although you will have to pay for that.