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(Pocket-lint) - The BBC has unveiled a new version of its iPlayer catch-up and video-on-demand service, which goes live today. It has been rebuilt from the ground up in HTML5 and Pocket-lint attended the launch at New Broadcasting House in London to check out a few of its new features prior to hitting app stores.

Smartphone, tablet and other users with access to the preview browser build are first to get the complete refresh, with PS3 and PS4 owners soon to follow with an option to try the new design. Other formats will follow after, although some devices, including Virgin Media's TiVo box and the Xbox 360 console won't get the changes for a while as they don't use HTML5 and that's a key factor for the new platform.


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Its major, immediate change is that the homepage and channel pages are now adaptive. When you view them on a smartphone screen you will get a truncated thumbnail screen, but expand the screen size to a tablet and you get a more content rich environment.

It's the same way Pocket-lint works these days. Check out our pages on a mobile or tablet vertically and then turn them horizontal and it flips how much content you see at once.

In addition, the BBC has added different themes depending on the channels. For example, CBeebies has a colourful, kiddy-friendly background and theme. Each channel keeps within the design aesthetic as its on-screen equivalent.

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Search has been improved too, with intuitive results appearing as you start to type. Type "t" and all the shows starting with that letter appear. And an "o" and they filter down, then a "p" and "Top Gear" appears at the top. Many other platforms have featured this kind of search functionality before, so it's great to see it in iPlayer.

The Beeb has ditched the prompt to view a programme immediately after you've finished it and now gives you the option to progress to the next in the series - something we've liked on Netflix for a while.

And there is now a recently watched section for you to revisit content or look for extra episodes of programmes you've watched before more easily than through the front end.

There are plenty of other new features and improvements too, which you can check out on the preview build at bbc.co.uk/iplayer.

Writing by Rik Henderson.