BBC iPlayer Radio review
Newly introduced, BBC iPlayer Radio brings together the corporation's vast and varied radio output into one dedicated, convenient app for computers, iOS devices and soon Android smartphones and tablets. It's a welcome move, complementing the BBC's popular iPlayer player while emphasising audio over visual content. The BBC has a lot of audio content to offer - both live and archived via catch-up and podcasts - which clearly can get overlooked in the search for the latest episodes of popular TV shows like EastEnders, Top Gear and Doctor Who.
BBC iPlayer Radio uses a virtual dial to show a decent range of channels and their current output, offering brief now and next details of each show. Click on any to reveal further details, including duration and what similar shows might be available to listen to again. In landscape mode you can view a more compact EPG showing all current programming across the main BBC stations.
Frustratingly, 'All Local Stations' are grouped under 'Find Local Radio,' which defaults to your current location, not ideal if you are hoping to listen to local content from your home town while based elsewhere. Disappointingly, the built-in search function failed to find any matching results for either 'BBC Radio Humberside' or simply 'Humberside,' but the station is there, listed under All Local Stations.
A dedicated Podcast section includes a similar search function or you can browse categories, including Featured, Recently Launched and Browse Stations, which includes archived content but not all content from local radio, nothing for instance currently from BBC Radio Merseyside. On the plus side users can set reminders for when favourite or popular shows are next on and even set an alarm to wake up to the sound of music and chat.
BBC iPlayer Radio also offers some video content - live performances for instance - which while an added bonus doesn't yet add anything to the experience of listening to radio and may prove a distraction. The app doesn't yet allow the downloading of content for listening offline and some programming, live sports coverage particularly, are restricted by location and broadcasting rights.
The BBC has set out to revamp its online audio content in style and BBC iPlayer Radio for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad is an impressive start. While it lacks some of the features found in the excellent and exhaustive TuneIn Radio Pro app, the ability to pause and record radio stations for instance, the BBC's involvement should ensure further enhancements and features.