Despite the success of the streaming version of the BBC iPlayer which was introduced in order to allow Mac & linux users access to the BBC’s TV & radio catch up content the BBC was still under pressure to level the playing field with a version that allowed downloading of content such as was available to Windows users.
On the same day that Adobe announced that Adobe Air for linux was to move out of beta we find a decidedly low key introduction of an Adobe Air based download service for Mac users (and presumably linux and Windows users too as Air is a cross platform technology).
The first challenge is to actually find the download link for the air application which is deeply hidden within the iPlayer labs section of the iPlayer site (you must be signed up to iPlayer labs to use this new download application). You then have to set an appropriate download location and allocate some of your hard drive space. I allocated 5GB which apparently reserves me up to 22.5 hours of download content.
Hide And Seek
The next trick is to actually find content that is available to download. We still use the web browser based iPlayer but keep our eyes peeled for an additional ‘download’ option next to an individual programmes iPlayer page.
Picture Quality Impressions
The slightly disappointing first impression of two programmes downloaded is that the quality appears to be inferior to the streaming version. Certainly a download equivalent of the high quality streaming option does not currently seem to be available which makes full screen playback of downloaded content a huge let down (is rubbish quality the ultimate DRM?)
Help For ISPs
Meanwhile the BBC is taking steps to head off continuing disquiet from British ISPs concerning their worries over how much the iPlayer is putting a strain on their available infrastructure as the popularity of the Internet service increases. The BBC has offered to make available specific iPlayer content caching servers to be installed by the ISPs into their own distribution networks. Whether this will quell some ISPs demands for payment subsidy for carrying the bandwidth intensive content remains to be seen.
The BBC iPlayer Air application can be downloaded here