BBC iPlayer gets a big performance update, now works on S4-based and Snapdragon 200-based phones

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After an eternity in the doldrums (a year or so), the BBC iPlayer app (in the UK) has received a big tweaking, fixing the tie-in with high quality streams that was preventing older/lesser devices from streaming programmes smoothly. I tested it on the Snapdragon S4-based Lumia 1020 and the 200-based Lumia 435 and in each case a suitable stream quality was served up. What? The BBC taking note of specifications of Windows Phones? Whatever next? Maybe someone at Microsoft had a quiet word with the Director General...

But well done BBC in the meantime, at least far more Windows Phone owners can now watch iPlayer programmes and live TV without horrible stuttering and buffering issues.

iPlayer screenshotiPlayer screenshot

Cynics will point out that switching to lower resolution, lower bitrate video streams is hardly an upgrade, but for the affected devices a smooth picture is infinitely preferable to one which is HD but which keeps stopping.

Of course, this isn't the end of the road. As I said in my earlier piece:

I should add the slight caveat that this is all streaming - whichever device you have, there's no 'Download' facility, as on other platforms, due to DRM issues and the BBC's lack of investment in this platform. Which is disappointing, but not a showstopper, unless you were banking on grabbing stuff for a long train or plane journey, for example. In which case I'd suggest downloading movies and programmes by - ahem - other means. I suspect that  downloading may make a comeback on Windows 10 once the desktop version hits and the BBC starts to take more of an interest, in which case the Mobile variant may well acquire the same facilities as on laptops, etc. Watch this space.

Indeed, maybe the imminent arrival of Windows 10 Mobile is causing waves with the BBC, given that whatever they code for Windows 10 generally can be largely re-used on the phone. Even run on the 'old' Windows Phone 8.1 too. Though the 'Download' options currently shown all refer to use on the desktop - in case you were wondering...

WMPU noticed that playing programmes don't lose their status when you switch away from the application, i.e. when you switch back (as long as the application is still in RAM) there's no 'reloading' delay, another welcome improvement. Finally, WMPU also noticed that 'Refresh' has made its way onto the menu in the iPlayer app.

How does iPlayer stack up for you now? You can grab it here in the Store. I have to say that, until there's a fully working Download facility for mobile as well, the utility of the app is distinctly limited for my use case (e.g. watching/catching up on long train journeys).