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BBC iPlayer app for iPhone and iPad could finally be out next month

Nearly a year after the BBC announced plans to make native apps for its iPlayer catch-up TV service, we're still waiting. Now a report suggests they'll finally come out next month.

Been itching for a proper iPlayer app for your iPhone or iPad to catch up with your favourite BBC shows? It looks like your prayers could be answered by the end of February.

The Beeb originally announced plans to create these apps nearly a year ago, although it took another six months to get the go-ahead from its BBC Trust. Now, industry site PaidContent UK is reporting the iOS apps will finally be out by the end of February. Handy timing, because that's when the executive in charge of them -- Erik Huggers -- leaves for a new job at Intel.

We don't know much about the iPlayer apps, other than that they'll only be available in the UK, and are likely to offer streaming shows up to a week after they've aired. The iPhone version was first mooted by Huggers at Mobile World Congress last year, and at the time, he suggested that Android, BlackBerry and Symbian versions were also on the agenda.

Is iPlayer on iPhone and iPad a big deal? Well, it is already on them. Go to the iPlayer website in your Safari browser, and you'll find a slick mobile Web version that streams shows using the QuickTime video format. In December, 5.8 million programmes were requested from iPlayer via mobile phones, according to the BBC's own stats.

It's valid to wonder how an app would improve on that: the ability to cache TV shows Spotify-style would be very handy, but is unlikely. Perhaps the apps will be more about building features around the content, such as more social-network integration and easy access to your favourites. Push notifications when a new show is available from a series you like would also be useful.

Let us know what features you'd want from an iPlayer app in the comments below.