New BBC iPlayer launches for smartphones and tablets today, rebuilt from the ground up

The BBC has unveiled a new version of its iPlayer experience for smartphones, tablets and desktops, with a preview browser build available online.

Launched by BBC director general Tony Hall in London's New Broadcasting House, the new software has been rebuilt from the ground up to make the iPlayer experience more user friendly still.

READ: New BBC iPlayer pictures and hands-on

"We want to improve the appearance of the product, so it appears in the best format for the device it is on," he said.

The new iPlayer uses a responsive design, so scales up depending on the device used, from mobile phone to PC, with more content appearing on the front screen as it rises in size.

It means the Beeb will be able to deliver the iPlayer experience to multiple different screen sizes without building separate versions. It's the same way Pocket-lint works and it will mean that the player is available on a lot more devices instantly. Those that are compatible with HTML5 anyway.

"A major focus of this release is making it easier to find something to watch, helping you quickly and easily find the programmes you know you're looking for and, crucially, helping you discover something new. The current iPlayer's pretty good if you know what you want to watch, but we know that 42 per cent of visitors are now coming without a particular programme in mind," explained Dan Taylor, head of iPlayer.

The new home screen will therefore now change to suit your device, promising to make things easier to browse. There is also a new Find Tools panel which lets you find programmes, browse by A-Z and see what you've most recently watched (just like Netflix). 

Channels too have had an overhaul. They each get a dedicated page with their own colourful branding. 

"We've also developed such pages for each of our TV channels, creating a place to discover and enjoy the best those channels have to offer even when they're off air, complementing the more traditional schedule view," added Taylor. 

But in this multichannel world, where people ask what service rather than station their new soon to be favourite programme is on, there is a new category section too. Shows will be broken down into TV viewing habits like Documentaries, Food, Arts, History, and Science & Nature. These categories showcase the range of catch-up, archive, exclusives and premieres.

In a move that seems to be "borrowing" the best bits from most other streaming services, the new iPlayer will also get Collections. Working in the same way Sky bundles stuff into Box Sets, the new iPlayer will bundle collections of programmes together. The example given to start with is its Post-War Architecture. 

To help boost usage of the new design even more, the BBC has also announced that it will be debuting a number of shows on iPlayer first, including original comedy shorts by the likes of Stewart Lee and more history shows following the Great War. 

The new iPlayer goes live today.



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