Feeds

Beeb pushes major new iPlayer release

Big on HD, if your computer is beefy enough

Top three mobile application threats

The BBC has made a host of major changes to the iPlayer today, by making some of its programmes available in High Definition (HD) and ending use of its clunky peer-to-peer technology.

The Corporation’s future media and technology controller Anthony Rose said the release was the most significant of its kind since iPlayer launched in July 2007.

He said the Beeb had improved video quality on the entire service to a new standard definition (SD) 1500Kbps stream.

“Finally, BBC programmes should look as good on your computer as they do on your TV, even if you don't choose the HD option,” said Rose, who added that selecting the new large video window size in iPlayer will make it automatically switch to the new video format.

Additionally, programmes downloaded using iPlayer Desktop will use the new format.

The Beeb has also slightly improved its default video quality so that its current High Quality (800Kbps H.264) format is now used in the smaller video playback window size.

“For programmes without fast movement played back on a small computer screen, the quality of that 800Kbps format is pretty good, which means that as of today our baseline video quality takes a big step up,” explained Rose.

However, to benefit from HD, which has a 1280x720 pixel resolution and encoding bitrate of 3.2Mbps, Rose admits that users will need speedy broadband connections and fast PCs with a beefy graphics card.

The iPlayer now also comes with adaptive bitrate technology, which tests connection speeds to allow users to work out what video quality they can watch over their broadband service.

“In this first phase of our adaptive bitrate system, once iPlayer has dropped down to a lower bandwidth stream it will stay with that lower bandwidth version for the rest of the programme you're watching,” said Rose.

“Over the coming months we'll enhance that behaviour to allow iPlayer to automatically ramp up and down between available versions every few seconds to match your available bandwidth.”

Users on bandwidth-capped web connections, or who simply want to override the adaptive bitrate system and use the Beeb’s lowest bandwidth (500Kbps) stream, can now do so by using a new option added to the service.

The Beeb officially unwrapped its cross platform desktop download manager today, which plays nicely with Windows, Linux and Mac. It was actually launched in December as part of the Corporation’s Labs testing programme, but it's now been taken out of beta.

"As of today, we're no longer using P2P to distribute our content, or use your upload bandwidth - all content is now either streaming or direct HTTP download from our servers," said Rose.

He advised that users on the BBC's existing iPlayer Download Manager should now switch to iPlayer Desktop and remove iPlayer Download Manager.

However, he warns that such a move won't entirely strip out all the components of its P2P technology because rival services such as Sky Player and 4OD share some Kontiki tech in their own download managers. ®

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
Sorry London, Europe's top tech city is Munich
New 'Atlas of ICT Activity' finds innovation isn't happening at Silicon Roundabout
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Audio fans, prepare yourself for the Second Coming ... of Blu-ray
High Fidelity Pure Audio – is this what your ears have been waiting for?
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Apple DOMINATES the Valley, rakes in more profit than Google, HP, Intel, Cisco COMBINED
Cook & Co. also pay more taxes than those four worthies PLUS eBay and Oracle
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.