If you're a Brit with a love of TV, then the BBC's iPlayer app is an essential download, providing as it does access to live broadcasts (tap menu and select Channels) as well as programmes from the past week (and even longer with particularly popular series, where an entire season is kept online for catchup throughout the show's run).
This is a slick app that's been perfectly designed for both tablet and phone. The home page reveals the most popular shows currently being broadcast - tap one to reveal more information before watching it, plus see similar programmes. You can also browse content by channel or category, search for a programme or view a TV guide to see what's coming up.
If there is a programme you always watch online, you can add it to a list of favourites for easy access. This means that you can quickly jump to new episodes as they become available without the need to scour the rest of the available videos.
You can even download material to your Android device for watching later - you have up to 30 days to start viewing it from time of download, then seven days from the moment you start watching it. The app also works over 3G/4G connections as well as Wi-Fi, meaning you can - subject to bandwidth limits - use it almost anywhere.
In theory, the app is perfect, but in practice there are some annoying niggles - many users complain of constant buffering, while others note that adding live broadcasts to the app means you now need a TV licence to use it.
Version 4.4 adds these changes:
- New Audio Described category makes BBC iPlayer more accessible than ever.
- Most Popular has expanded to show 40 programmes, giving a greater selection of well-loved shows.
- A ban on buffering! Programmes now automatically play at the best video quality for your connection.
- Various other minor bugs have been exterminated (humanely, of course).
If you're a UK TV licence payer who wants access to BBC programmes via their Android device, then this is the app to go for. Selected niggles prevent it from being the runaway success it could be, however.