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BBC iPlayer comes to Android: But only with version 2.2 and Flash 10.1

With iPlayer being available on the iPhone for over two years now, it seems about time for the BBC to announce iPlayer on Android. So it has. We tested it

When it comes to iPlayer, the BBC has ignored Android for some time -- along with every other non-Apple platform -- but with the news that Android 2.2 comes with Flash 10.1, all that changes. So, as soon as your phone's updated with Android 2.2, you can head straight over to bbc.co.uk/iplayer and wallow in the full mobile experience.

The mobile iPlayer stream is 400kbps, which the BBC says will deliver excellent quality to mobile phones. We can confirm that's the case, having tested it on the 2.2 Nexus One Adobe lent us (pictured above). Because it's quite a meaty stream, the BBC service currently only works over Wi-Fi -- although we've heard it can be made to work with Vodafone and 3's 3G networks.

While we welcome the arrival of iPlayer on Android, we really don't see why it has to use Flash to deliver video. Comments on the BBC story rightly suggest there's no technical reason Android phones can't use the same stream as the iPhone. Android also supports the HTML5 video tag, which should mean that phones can simply access video in a browser.

The excellent beebPlayer app was available for free in the Android market until recently. beebPlayer could stream all of the BBC's on-demand content, but for reasons unknown the author recently withdrew it from the market. Comments on the BBC's blog post suggest Auntie is sending cease and desist letters to developers making such applications, but neither Dave Johnston, who wrote beebPlayer, nor the BBC are prepared to say why the app disappeared.  

We're excited about iPlayer coming to Android, but we're irked that we've got to wait until our devices are updated to 2.2. Google says updates should start rolling out this month. The Nexus One will get 2.2 first.

Phones running manufacturer- or network-customised versions of Android will be updated as soon as the relevant companies get their act together. We're still waiting for our Heroes to be upgraded from Android 1.5, so we're not holding our breath.