BBC Sport for iPhone review
We've been promised a dedicated iPhone app covering the BBC's sporting output for sometime now and here it is at last. Post London Olympics, post Euro 2012 and well into another season of football, it’s arrived with a modest fanfare from the BBC on the day when the broadcaster was forced to cutback significantly on local output. Regrettably, 39 BBC local radio stations in England and the Channel Islands now share the same generic, bland content weekday nights, with budget restrictions blamed for the decision. Those cutbacks appear to have played a role in the introduction of this new BBC app, which feels poorly executed and missing key features found in other sports and radio themed apps.
Currently, and its early days, the BBC Sport app resembles little more than the mobile version of the BBC's website. Navigation is basic but intuitive, with the option to view headlines across a range of sports and dig deeper by selecting links covering football, rugby, cricket, tennis, golf and more. Those links can be customised to delete and add sports and select headlines covering England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. Despite this regional option, finding sporting news from your particular area of the UK is hard work, particularly as we struggled to find any way to search news stories.
While the BBC lets users share those stories you stumble across via email, Facebook and Twitter, an option standard in any half decent app, BBC Sport lacks any real interaction. During live coverage of an FA Cup game, the 'get involved contact us' link to Twitter simply opens a Twitter page, a tiny one at that, from within the app. Push Notifications, offered by the dependable Eurosport app, also appear to be lacking. Bizarrely, you couldn't listen to the live commentary provided by Radio 5 Live and read a text based update and selected Tweets at the same time. Close the radio player from within the app, or try and listen in the background, while checking emails for example, or select the sleep button and the audio suddenly stops. The option to listen in the background is at the heart of any decent radio app, something which the excellent TuneIn Radio and numerous apps allow listeners to do.
BBC Sport currently streams Radio 5 Live, and when broadcasting, which isn't often, sister station Radio 5 Live Sports Extra. The app lacks the option to tune into local sports coverage, due to rights issues while the ability to catch-up and listen to podcasts also appears to be lacking. At launch video is also solely lacking, although the BBC note in a press release: "Other features, including live and on-demand video highlights, and an application for Android devices, will be introduced soon." For now this is a poorly conceived app, which lacks native iPad support, that adds absolutely nothing that can't be found either online or via superior third party apps.
We feel the BBC have scored a vital own goal here with an app that's not fit for purpose and reflects badly on an institution already under fire from critics over scandal and errors of judgement. We can only hope those shortcomings - a broken radio player, the lack of additional audio, video and Push Notifications - are fixed sooner than later.