BBC iPlayer download feature now supported on Linux, Mac machines

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200px-BBC.svg The BBC has created a version of the iPlayer, with its download functionality, that works on both Linux and Mac computers. After being allowed to watch the programmes that aired on the BBC online, users on both machines will now be able to download the programmes – however, they will still be encoded with DRM, but different than what is found on the Windows version.

Working with Adobe for this new version, called the BBC iPlayer Desktop, it is built upon Adobe’s AIR platform, which allows to have web applications on your desktop (like the defunct Pownce application), without running it on a browser. Since each platform requires a different form of DRM (like Windows Media DRM for Windows computers or the OMA standard for mobiles), it was criticised for not allowing programme downloads on the Linux and Macs at launch.

The BBC iPlayer allows users to stream programmes that have been recently aired for 7 days, and allow them to download them to keep for 30 days. Since AIR is multi-platform, meaning that it works on Windows, Macs and Linux, it is unknown if this will replace the Windows application entirely; but this would live up to the BBC Trust’s demand to be “platform neutral”.

Currently, the BBC iPlayer is available on the web, on a Windows PC, Virgin Media on-demand service, The Nintendo Wii (via the Internet Channel), the PS3 (via the internet browser), the iPhone and iPod touch, and the Nokia N96.

The BBC is also working with ISPs to cache some of its popular programmes on its servers so it doesn’t have to communicate with an outside server to deliver the show that the user wants to watch. This way, it would lessen the cost of ISPs of streaming videos, which increased from £17,233 to £51,700. However, the BBC will not be helping the ISPs in buying and installing them, as it is the responsibility of the ISP.

"The BBC is not building its own content delivery network,” Anthony Rose, BBC’s head of digital media technology, said in a BBC report.

A beta version is available on the BBC iPlayer Labs, and is expected to be launched in February 2009.