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BBC iPlayer update to allow program downloads

Going beyond the stream, app refresh will allow users to store programs on their iPhone or iPad for viewing even when a broadband connection in unavailable.

The BBC iPlayer app for iPhone. iTunes

An update to the BBC's iPlayer app will allow paying subscribers to download programs for viewing offline at no additional cost.

The update is due to be released tomorrow for iPhone and iPad, is expected to available on Android devices "in the near future," according to a report in The Guardian.

The update represents a significant shift for the app, which had previously allowed only streaming to mobile devices and downloading onto desktop computers.

The British network touted the upgrade's ability to let users watch programs while on the go, liberated from the constraints and costs of having to find a broadband connection, especially when abroad.

"This fundamentally changes one of the most annoying restrictions about viewing programs," Daniel Danker, the BBC's general manager of on-demand programs, told The Guardian. "With mobile downloads, you can now load up your mobile phone or tablet with hours and hours of BBC programs, then watch them on the road, on the tube, on a plane, without worrying about having an Internet connection or running up a mobile data bill."

Subscribers will need a Wi-Fi connection to download programs, and 3G downloads are also planned.

But downloaded programs won't be available indefinitely. Programs will expire from devices 30 days after they are downloaded, or seven days after they are viewed the first time, The Guardian said.