In the world of catch-up, UK channel ITV has, ironically, been playing catch-up for some time. The BBC's iPlayer had a firm hold on the British video-on-demand market long before ITV got its house in order. And even channel 4 got its 4oD iPad app out before the nation's second-favourite station.
As Bob Dylan said though, "Times they are a-changin'". Of course, he also said, "Don't follow leaders" in Subterranean Homesick Blues, but thankfully ITV wasn't listening...
- iPad / iPhone
Let's be honest here, the iPad (and to a lesser extent, the iPhone) is perfect for catch-up TV services, giving you a portable, slim and light way to watch telly shows you've either missed or are so universally despised by everyone else in your household that you're banished to watch elsewhere.
Its screen is decent and high definition enough to make the dancing images look good. And its real estate is small enough to hide the most brutal of bitrates. Which is lucky really, as the ITV Player treads lightly along the tightrope of what is acceptable, resolution wise.
Thankfully, the worst picture quality is reserved for trailers at the start of each programme - which is also the app's biggest annoyance. Sadly, each show you want to watch (at least on its launch day) is preceded by two trailers for other content or brand identity. They're not offensively long though, and at least serve as an image performance barometer by which the main video content surpasses.
Other than those, the rest of the app is decent enough, erring safely on the side of cleanliness. There's not many features save for search and play, so even a child could find the show they want to watch. Of course, as the only content on offer is of a home-grown variety (no US imports) from ITV1, ITV2, ITV3 and ITV4, it's not exactly bursting with choice. But the big entertainment spectaculars and soap operas are resident, and they will be the biggest draw, surely.
Quibbles aside, it's great to welcome ITV to the fray, and we're sure that as time progresses and updates are applied, the experience will grow to match rivals'. It does share something with its peers, however; you can only watch video streamed over Wi-Fi (no 3G support), so that comes as a relief to those with restrictive data plans (ie. just about everybody).
For the time being, at least there's a half-decent way to watch ITV content on an iOS device. And, remember, it's completely free.
What do you think of ITV Player for iOS? Let us know in the comments below...