BBC iPlayer for BlackBerryused to watch live sports

Rating: How to follow F1 on Android & lesser BlackBerries

Last weekend provided an excellent excuse to try out the BlackBerry Bold which RIM has so kindly lent GoMo News for software testing purpose. The aim was to try out the recently released iPlayer TV for BlackBerry from the BBC and objective was to be able to watch the re-run of the Formula One GP in Brazil. There are two drawbacks to the BlackBerry version of the iPlayer. The first is that it runs on only a limited set of BlackBerry models (so we found alternatives for other BlackBerries). The second snag is that the BBC very heavily suggests that the app should only be run over a Wi-Fi link. That’s somewhat self –defeating because if you can’t get yourself in front of a TV, then it’s not always possible to find a Wi-Fi hot spot.

BBC iPlayer F1 screenshotThe list of which BlackBerry models will actually run the iPlayer seems to change. The BBC name the Bold 2 (9700) or Storm 2 (9520/9550).

Luckily we’ve borrowed a Bold 9700. However, the BlackBerry App World says it runs on the Torch 9800 as well.

Once we’d figured out how to trigger Wi-Fi access to the Beeb’s servers, the app ran well. Although the BBC’s iPlayer UI needs some work. [Wasn't it designed by Apple?]

We wanted to watch the F1 Highlights. There were five entries all marked “The Brazilian Grand Priz” and you have to figure out which is which.

The logic behind a public service provider like the BBC only supporting a handful of BlackBerries escapes us but don’t despair if the BBC doesn’t like your particular model.

You can always download what it calls the BlackBerry shortcut app. You can find it here - [That link took some finding!]

This app takes BlackBerry owners to the news section of the BBC’s service and under Sport you can read the latest news about F1. Hardly inspiring is it?

A much better option is to download the official Formula One app which has been created in conjunction with Vodafone.

It’s been produced by Genera Interactive and we’ve covered it before here. GoMo News downloaded it onto a BlackBerry Curve 8250. You have to register first on the Formula One site here.

What this does is feed live information back to the handset in real-time. So GoMo News was able to see how the F1 qualifying sessions unfolded.

The advantage here was that not only didn’t the Curve have no Wi-Fi connexion, the actual cellular links was a mere GPRS one and it still worked well.

What happens if you can’t get your hands on either an Apple iPhone or a BlackBerry because you’ve gone down the Android route?

Well, while there’s no official player from the BBC, there is MyPlayer from SkyNet Software and luckily it is free. Download it from the Android Market.

The really great thing about MyPlayer is not that it can actually deliver the BBC iPlayer episode you want but also that it can optimise for 3G – so you can watch it without the need to find a Wi-Fi

GoMo News loaded MyPlayer onto a ZTE Racer Android handset (Thank you, Axicom) and the quality over 3G was acceptable. [It's down to the network not the handset].

Rumours are that you can get onto the official BBC iPlayer web site with a Froyo/2.2 handset and watch it thanks to support for Flash. GoMo News is unable to confirm that one.

About Tony Dennis

Tony is currently Editor of GoMobile News. He's a veteran telecoms journalist who has previously worked for major printed and online titles. Follow him on Twitter @GoMoTweet.
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