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BBC Keeps Android Flash Alive In the UK

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the media-as-well-as-the-media dept.

Android 102

judgecorp writes "Although Adobe wants to can mobile Flash, the Android Flash app has returned to the Google Play store in the UK after disappearing earlier this month. It has come back because of pressure from large organisations, in particular the BBC, whose popular iPlayer video on demand service uses Flash. The Android app is back, apparently for as long as it takes the BBC to move to HTML5."

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But not for 4.1 (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41198447)

For some reason the latest is still left out in the cold...

Not very good joined up thinking in the Android camp - the iPad can watch all of the catch-up services from all of hte major broadcasters but the latest greatest android devices can't even watch one of them...

Re:But not for 4.1 (4, Funny)

novajitz (630103) | about 2 years ago | (#41198453)

.. And that's why we need the BBC and thats why I'm happy to pay the license fee.

Re:But not for 4.1 (0)

beelsebob (529313) | about 2 years ago | (#41198495)

We need the BBC because they cling onto a dying standard and force the maker of the closed software do play that standard to keep distributing it, even when they already have open, standards formats that they distribute for other platforms?

I'm wondering how you can see the BBC in anything but a negative light here.

Re:But not for 4.1 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41198513)

If you can build a pure HTML5/Javascript application that can all the things that the BBC iPlayer can currently do, I'm sure the BBC (and quite possibly, the W3C) would be fascinated to hear from you.

Re:But not for 4.1 (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41198533)

all the things that the BBC iPlayer can currently do

Such as what? The BBC seemed well aware HTML5 was the way forward 4 years ago [bbc.co.uk] .

Re:But not for 4.1 (2)

ninjacheeseburger (1330559) | about 2 years ago | (#41198649)

There was an unofficial iplayer app for android which did not require flash, unfortunately it got banned. From what I heard flash is used because of DRM.

Re:But not for 4.1 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41198683)

If the BBC needs DRM, then implement or use an appropriate library accessible by the HTML5 website. Alternatively, embed a digital signature, such as the IP address of the requester, within the media unique to each viewing via the BBC website. That said, DRM is a tool of evil corporations including publicly-funded corporations, of which the British Broadcasting Corporation is a member.

RIA is still needed - HTML5 stinks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41199041)

HTML5/Javascript will never be able to replicate all the functionality of a client-side rich client (Flash, Silverlight, JWS). As a developer of JWS and Silverlight desktop apps I have looked at this "solution" in depth. To put it bluntly, it stinks.

There is a reason for client side code, that does not have to be installed - yet does not have to be re-downloaded (except for updates) - and can really tie into the services of the device. HTML5/Javascript simply does not fit that nitch.

Long live JWS and Silverlight - these can replace the Flash functionality for the BBC player.

Re:RIA is still needed - HTML5 stinks (1)

beelsebob (529313) | about 2 years ago | (#41199321)

Apparently, you haven't looked at it in depth enough to know that javascript is in fact client side...

Re:But not for 4.1 (4, Informative)

StripedCow (776465) | about 2 years ago | (#41199075)

About the only thing Flash can do and HTML5 cannot do is DRM.

Re:But not for 4.1 (1)

iampiti (1059688) | about 2 years ago | (#41200713)

...And that's why it's not going to be used in commercial video streaming services (Netflix and similars) until it can.

Re:But not for 4.1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41201759)

strange. i didn't realise html5 had a "capture video from webcam and microphone" tag...

Re:But not for 4.1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41199155)

If you can build a pure HTML5/Javascript application that can all the things that the BBC iPlayer can currently do

Such as... the iOS iPlayer app?

Re:But not for 4.1 (1)

beelsebob (529313) | about 2 years ago | (#41199319)

Who said it had to be html5/JS? Just do what the BBC already do on iOS – write a native android app, that downloads the raw h264.

Re:But not for 4.1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41198805)

Generally speaking I am a raving BBC fanboy but you have hit the nail squarely on the head here.

Re:But not for 4.1 (1)

Plumpaquatsch (2701653) | about 2 years ago | (#41199167)

We need the BBC because they cling onto a dying standard and force the maker of the closed software do play that standard to keep distributing it, even when they already have open, standards formats that they distribute for other platforms?

I'm wondering how you can see the BBC in anything but a negative light here.

Well, the iOS iPlayer doesn't need Flash, and judging from the comments ("this app doesn't really do anything you can't already do via the website") the same seems to be true for Mobile Safari.

So it's clearly not "the BBC" that needs Flash, it's either the BBC's Android programmers or Android itself.

Re:But not for 4.1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41199189)

HTML5 hogs CPU resources more than Adobe flash on my test systems.

Maybe BBC know this and I agree with them if so.

Re:But not for 4.1 (1)

rickb928 (945187) | about 2 years ago | (#41199355)

Isn't that a little like complaining how steak takes up so much room on your plate? If that is a problem, perhaps you should stick to carrots instead.

The CPU is there to be used. Get a bigger battery or rejoin reality and adjust your expectations.

Or perhaps hit the STOP button so your poor CPU has a break while you go back to /. to look at something less demanding.

Honestly, it's always something.

Re:But not for 4.1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41201019)

When a third party plugin performs the same task using less resources than one which is built into a standard, you know something is wrong.

Continuing to overlook these things causes more problems than it solves.

Re:But not for 4.1 (1)

novajitz (630103) | about 2 years ago | (#41199197)

Their job is to make the content available to me. If that means using a closed standard that is easily accessible to all, so be it. Sure I would rather they use open standards but first and foremost they must make it available to me, so this is a good (hopefully temporary) move.

Re:But not for 4.1 (1)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | about 2 years ago | (#41202545)

We need the BBC because they cling onto a dying standard and force the maker of the closed software do play that standard to keep distributing it, even when they already have open, standards formats that they distribute for other platforms?

I'm wondering how you can see the BBC in anything but a negative light here.

It's really pretty simple. Most sites on the web use interactive flash content. Adobe decided to make the flash player unavailable. BBC convinced them to change their minds (in the UK). There's really no good reason not to have it, in my opinion. It's like an optical drive. I have one, don't use it very often... but when I need it, I'm glad I have one.

If you have such a problem with it, nobody is forcing you to install it; you can make that decision for yourself!

Why isn't there an iPlayer for Android? (1)

aNonnyMouseCowered (2693969) | about 2 years ago | (#41198527)

This seems to be the better option to keeping the corpse of an abandoned program on life support. The best solution would be to redo the whole site using HTML5 or other open web technologies, but a dedicated app is probably the only solution, besides Flash, where some form of light DRM is needed to "protect" online shows from unauthorized uses.

Re:Why isn't there an iPlayer for Android? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41198587)

There is.

Re:But not for 4.1 (1)

ewanm89 (1052822) | about 2 years ago | (#41198531)

Only officially, I'm running flash on 4.1 here. Though I don't trust it, as a such I use a non flash capable browser unless I actually need flash.

Re:But not for 4.1 (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41198689)

Fuck you, faggot.

iPhones are for fags.

Re:But not for 4.1 (1)

rickb928 (945187) | about 2 years ago | (#41199363)

Fags have style. You have an N90.

Props where due.

Re:But not for 4.1 (1)

rjr162 (69736) | about 2 years ago | (#41198709)

Uhhh.. My android phone can play everything I need it to.. Browser wise or not, with only a few video formats requiring a player from the market (for example for http:// streaming)

Now my iPad... It plays most, needs help with http:// streaming just like the android... But flash? Forget about it. That's a no go which my android can play because you an actually download a flash player (adobes). Some things I use/access require flash and the DRM it supports to access the site/video.

Just wanted to correct you a bit

Re:But not for 4.1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41206829)

Can they? I can't even play a H.264 video combined with MP3 audio in an MPEG 4 container, as Android only accepts AAC audio in combination with video streams. Everything else requires a 3rd party player.

Get rid of it (5, Insightful)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about 2 years ago | (#41198469)

It's obvious the BBC crapped their pants over this but that is what they get for using a proprietary solution. They need to focus on not being cheap and rewriting it in something else.

Re:Get rid of it (5, Interesting)

dwkns (2607961) | about 2 years ago | (#41198501)

Crap them they did.

The BBC bet their house on Flash. Their entire internet video delivery strategy relied on it. Not only the iPlayer and the various mobile apps but also the interface in what has become YouView the common IPTV platform they helped develop.

Much back peddling and redevelopment had to be done and is still going on now. All on the licence payers dime.

Re:Get rid of it (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41198603)

This is the BBC - their license payers don't use dimes.

Re:Get rid of it (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41198707)

What else should they have used?
The Dutch broadcasters chose to use Silverlight. That is an even bigger disaster.
At least in Flash there is some compatability and cross-platform availability, aside from the mobile platforms who seem to want to kill it.
But Silverlight is only available on Microsoft Windows.

(don't talk about Moonlight, the apps they use don't work in Moonlight, only in Silverlight)

Re:Get rid of it (5, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 2 years ago | (#41198851)

They should have used open formats in open container files and made playback the client's problem. They should have remembered that their charter is to provide entertainment and information to the people of the UK, not to the subset that some third-party company decides are important. If the BBC had decided to broadcast TV in a format that required you to buy your TV from, for example, Samsung, then they'd have had the regulator slap them into oblivion, but somehow they get a free pass for doing the same thing on the Internet.

Re:Get rid of it (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 2 years ago | (#41198883)

With that approach, you wouldn't be getting 5% of what is currently available on iPlayer and the BBC website - regardless of their charter, they do not have a carte blanche ability to release content they simply do not own into the wild, and they do not own most of the stuff that they broadcast.

Re:Get rid of it (3, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 2 years ago | (#41198975)

Their charter would be better served by publishing the stuff that they do have the rights to (i.e. in-house productions) and refusing to sign distribution contracts in the future that didn't meet their requirements.

Re:Get rid of it (1)

rathaven (1253420) | about 2 years ago | (#41204571)

And that works for the license payers who just want to watch content how? By limiting what they can access? Nice way to sink your service and send all your customers to Netflix.

Re:Get rid of it (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 2 years ago | (#41204623)

And that works for the license payers who just want to watch content how? By limiting what they can access?

That is the kind of short-term thinking that the BBC is supposed to be able to avoid by not having to be dependent on shareholders. The BBC is a big customer, and also a company that sets trends for a number of other national broadcasters. If they make a stand on an issue like this, then the content producers are going to have to change. If they roll over, then they create long-term problems for themselves.

Re:Get rid of it (1)

stoatwblr (2650359) | about 2 years ago | (#41206347)

I'd love to be able to use Netflix, but they don't work on linux since they dumped flash.

Re:Get rid of it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41198993)

With that approach, you wouldn't be getting 5% of what is currently available on iPlayer and the BBC website

That is not true and I will explain why: anything we can watch can be rerecorded and redistributed. Fortunately there are a number of effective prevention strategies.

  1. Do not make the programme
  2. Do not broadcast or distribute it

Well... that about wraps it up for effective DRM.

they do not have a carte blanche ability to release content they simply do not own into the wild

Like all that "content" they broadcast over the airwaves with their massive fucking transmitters? A legitimate argument could be made for residuals (broadcast royalties) unless we lived in a world where on-demand viewing was becoming the default. Then we have to rethink the whole thing.

Re:Get rid of it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41199455)

You do realize that it's trivial to download videos that are streamed over flash don't you?

Maybe there are some PHB's in the entertainment industry that think Flash = secure but that sure as hell isn't reality.

Re:Get rid of it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41199439)

But they did just that on satellite! They signed a contract with SKY that made the broadcast only available to those that got SKY equipment!
This contract was ended a couple of years ago and now they use open formats again, but I think this was done purely for financial reasons, not because of regulator complaints.

Re:Get rid of it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41211685)

No, they signed with Sky because they needed a way of restricting access to the UK and Ireland only. They presumably went with Sky because at the time they were the only serious option for satellite TV and it wouldn't do to encrypt in a standard that wouldn't work on a Sky box.

They dumped the encryption when Astra launched a satellite whose transmission footprint loosely covered the UK and Ireland only (in practice it goes well into the continent but the BBC doesn't seem too fussed about it).

That's why Freeview was never encrypted, because in practice only people in Ireland with dedicated aerial setups (who are allowed to watch the BBC anyway) and a few people on the French coast might pick something up.

Re:Get rid of it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41200557)

What were all these fabulous Open and cross platform formats that the BBC could have used in 2006, when they started iPlayer development?

Re:Get rid of it (2)

aliquis (678370) | about 2 years ago | (#41199785)

Quicktime is(was..) the standard!

Re:Get rid of it (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 2 years ago | (#41199811)

At first they used RealPlayer for streaming, so Flash was actually quite welcome when it arrived... OGG was suggested but there was a lack of browser support.

This debate is missing the real point though. Everyone was in the same boat in those early days, but HTML5 has been around long enough now that people should have switched. If your infrastructure is so tied to Flash that you can't relatively easily switch then you are doing it wrong.

Re:Get rid of it (1)

jisatsusha (755173) | about 2 years ago | (#41200553)

But Silverlight is only available on Microsoft Windows.

And OS X.

Re:Get rid of it (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41198529)

Oh, for mod points and a working account...and ISTR at the time they were warned about adopting flash as their 'solution'..

Re:Get rid of it (2)

Yvanhoe (564877) | about 2 years ago | (#41198629)

Hear! Hear! Choose proprietary today : get bitten in the ass in ten years. And worse : you'll give these OSS hippies something to brag about. So chose wisely, and chose open technologies from day one.

Re:Get rid of it (4, Insightful)

itsdapead (734413) | about 2 years ago | (#41198657)

Yes, because when iPlayer launched back in 2007 everybody had a HTML5-compliant browser that supported a common video format... Oh wait, they didn't... and they still don't... Perhaps they should have tried RealPlayer instead...?

Their silly insistance on Flash has meant that the iPlayer is only available on a limited handful of platforms (including PC, Mac, most new smart TVs TV, most half-decent PVRs...)

Since flash video is a wrapper on a weird, unknown standard called "H264" that nobody else uses, they've been unable to support the most popular mobile platforms such as iOS (the perfectly good iPlayer app on my iPad is clearly just a result of the hallucinogenic drugs with which Apple impregnate their packaging). It's quite clear that the BBC should have gone for "webm" (even though it didn't exist at the time) because everybody uses Firefox.

Everybody derided the introduction of Flash Player on Android when it was launched, with even Fandroids accepting that the lack of Flash on iOS was a good thing. The BBC should have known this and not relied on it.

(At least, with Flash support removed from Android we can go back to the "Flash = spawn of Satan" meme without having to simultaneously believe that "Flash = essential tool for browsing the web").

Re:Get rid of it (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about 2 years ago | (#41198675)

And what's the iphone and ipad use? Flash is an especially awful for mobiles. Selecting that for Android was just stupid and lazy.

BBC iPlayer (1)

Martin S. (98249) | about 2 years ago | (#41198719)

BBC iPlayer is the only reason I still tolerate the steaming pile of crap that is flash on machines. Flash is unreliable prone to crashes, a security nightmare of exploits and super cookies used to deliver crap adverts I don't want.

Roll on HTML 5 iPlayer. Then I can uninstal flash for good.

Re:Get rid of it (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41198773)

I'm not sure whether that jibe about RealPlayer was serious or not, but the BBC have been using RealPlayer streams for radio services almost ever since they started putting shows online.

Re:Get rid of it (2)

itsdapead (734413) | about 2 years ago | (#41199015)

I'm not sure whether that jibe about RealPlayer was serious or not, but the BBC have been using RealPlayer streams for radio services almost ever since they started putting shows online.

Perfectly serious. When they started streaming radio, RealPlayer was the only game in town - lots of people had it installed (and it was OK to start with until Real realised it didn't have an income stream, made it almost impossible to find the free player on their site and started pushing ads and bloatware). When they started iPlayer the vast majority of browsers already had Flash Player installed.

I believe that the BBC did start work on their own Codec (Dirac) but whatever you favourite conspiracy theory about why that never happened, the least hypothesis is that they looked at the cost of writing and maintaining player software for all available platforms and it didn't add up. Especially since the boom in mobile devices (mostly after iPlayer started) means that (a) there are more platforms to support and (b) mobiles don't all have the grunt to run software codecs - you really need to use the formats that they have hardware support for.

Re:Get rid of it (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 2 years ago | (#41199909)

Back then there were a lot of MP3 based radio stations and people rightly complained that the BBC should be using that format. Their excuse was DRM, but a lot of BBC content does not need DRM protection and in fact they now release it in MP3 format as "podcasts". Basically stuff which is 100% BBC content (no licensed music etc.), e.g. most of Radio 4.

And besides which it wasn't exactly difficult to rip RealPlayer streams. But then again I suppose DRM has always been a fig leaf in that respect.

Re:Get rid of it (1)

Vanders (110092) | about 2 years ago | (#41200599)

DRM was never the issue. Streaming media is hard. Real offered products like RealMedia Server, which handled the encoding and streaming for you. They were the only game in town until Microsoft launched their streaming media (ASF) platform. MP3 never hadthe tooling around it that RealMedia did. End of story.

Re:Get rid of it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41200933)

Realplayer had a codec that was exceptionally good for low bandwidth voice content, and it was practically the only way to stream in realtime over a 56K modem. Obsolete now, but they did have a solid use case.

Re:Get rid of it (1)

Vanders (110092) | about 2 years ago | (#41200591)

...the BBC have been using RealPlayer streams for radio services almost ever since they started putting shows online.

They did indeed use RealPlayer when they launched on radio streaming (it's Flash based again these days). You know what? I was damn glad they did use RealPlayer, too. Because like it it or not, RealPlayer worked on Linux with Netscape, which meant I could listen to BBC Radio 1. The alternative was Windows Media, which certainly didn't work on Linux (not withstanding some horrible and very unstable hacks or reverse-engineered libraries).

So yes, RealPlayer was the best of a bad bunch, but it was the right decision.

Incidentally I knew the guy who worked at the BBC and created the experimental Ogg Vorbis streams. They seriously considered offering Vorbis streams as an official option, but there really were technical issues with it that meant the idea was dropped. Sadly that was over ten years ago and I can't remember what they were. Ho hum.

Re:Get rid of it (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 2 years ago | (#41198863)

Yes, because when iPlayer launched back in 2007 everybody had a HTML5-compliant browser that supported a common video format... Oh wait, they didn't... and they still don't... Perhaps they should have tried RealPlayer instead...?

Or they could have just made .mp4 files available for playback. Then, it would have been trivial for someone else to write an iPlayer app for Android, for iOS, for WebOS, for OpenBSD-on-VAX, or whatever. The BBC does not make televisions, they just make information available in a well-documented format over the air that other manufacturers can easily transform back into television programs. They should be doing the same thing online: providing the shows and the metadata in a well-documented format and encouraging people to provide ways of accessing it.

Re:Get rid of it (5, Insightful)

itsdapead (734413) | about 2 years ago | (#41198959)

Or they could have just made .mp4 files available for playback.

Yes, in a parallel universe where the BBC didn't have contracts with studios and artists to uphold, didn't have the obligation to raise money from international sales and didn't have Big Media Interests pouncing on any and every opportunity of accusing them of anticompetitive behaviour. Then they wouldn't have had to worry about bloody DRM and could give away .mp4s. Actually, in that universe they could probably have used Ogg. Also, note, that universe is populated entirely by techies who are happy to download a .mp4 from a list of files (then probably run it through ffmpeg to optimise it for their homebrew Linux media centre) and aren't remotely interested in having a nice UI that lets them browse programmes, stream live TV etc.

That would be a nice universe to live in. Maybe the BBC can have Doctor Who visit it sometime.

Re:Get rid of it (1)

AvitarX (172628) | about 2 years ago | (#41199735)

If they provided RSS type streams, one of all the shows "channels" and one for each show, someone would make a nice app almost immediately. Hell, I have 2 apps that would work out well on my phone already.

It's the DRM, not the difficulty of turning a collection of files into an app on the web. Not only techies use RSS.

Re:Get rid of it (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 2 years ago | (#41199903)

The BBC CHOSE to lie with those dogs. Are you telling me if the BBC said, 'all broadcasts in the UK must be DRM free', no one would take their money?

Re:Get rid of it (1)

itsdapead (734413) | about 2 years ago | (#41200507)

Are you telling me if the BBC said, 'all broadcasts in the UK must be DRM free', no one would take their money?

...what, when they could take money from ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, Sky, Virgin et. al. instead and still have DRM? No.

I don't know what powers you think the BBC has - I think you're confusing them with the government.

Hopefully, someday, the TV, Movie and publishing industries will learn that the only thing DRM does is pisses off legitimate users while ensuring business as usual for the pirates. The Music industry got the message eventually allowing Apple, Amazon etc. to sell DRM-free music, so maybe there's hope, but currently DRM free == content free.

Re:Get rid of it (1)

RDW (41497) | about 2 years ago | (#41201459)

That would be a nice universe to live in. Maybe the BBC can have Doctor Who visit it sometime.

They already did that one. Look carefully and you can see Oswin typing 'get_iplayer --pid p00wqr14' in this week's episode.

Re:Get rid of it (2)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | about 2 years ago | (#41199407)

Please, please - where can I get a smartphone that runs OpenBSD-on-VAX? (With Gnome-2)

Re:Get rid of it (1)

AvitarX (172628) | about 2 years ago | (#41199697)

As an android user, I think flash is still fairly important, but it is worthless on my phone. It simply does.jot work well at all.

I disabled it, but too many sites see I'm on android and give me the flash version anyway. I am very happy that apple dissed flash though, it means that I can fake the site into thinking I'm an iPhone, and then access the flash free version.

Re:Get rid of it (2)

aliquis (678370) | about 2 years ago | (#41199809)

Seriously. I see what you did here but the biggest show stopper for HTML5 in Firefox?

DAMN FUCKING AUTO-PLAY!

Where's HTML video block?!

Who think auto-play is a good idea?

Why is web pages allowed to start the video?

Just because I open a web page or 10 I don't want to play all the fucking video they contain.

(Yeah I know there's some solution you can install if you run the debug or whatever version of Firefox it is but normal people don't use that.)

Of course it's just as bad in any browser which play that shit by default. Bloat web crap.

Re:Get rid of it (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 2 years ago | (#41199879)

Everybody derided the introduction of Flash Player on Android when it was launched

No, I thought it was nice to have. By default it is in "click-to-load" mode so Flash advertising doesn't even waste my bandwidth, and there are plenty of sites where I might want to watch some bit of video that needs flash. News sites in particular. As you pointed out, back then there wasn't much else other than RealVideo and Windows Media Video.

Flash itself isn't universally terrible either, it's just the way many web sites (ab)used it. There has been some pretty good artwork done in Flash, both animations created offline and in drawing forums (oekaki) that use Flash as an online image editor. Before HTML 5 was capable of doing it Flash was also useful for managing uplaods, something that most web browsers still have no facility for.

Re:Get rid of it (2)

deains (1726012) | about 2 years ago | (#41199033)

Unfortunately it's kinda tricky to focus on not being cheap when your budget is repeatedly cut, despite viewing figures and general approval going up. This is why we can't have nice things.

The BBC moving to HTML5? (0)

dwkns (2607961) | about 2 years ago | (#41198479)

The BBC moving to HTML5 Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Good one.

We'll all be on HTML7 before that happens.

iFailure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41198491)

The BBC were told about the issues with flash when they launched iPlayer but claimed they had to respect rights holders and said flash was the only way. Despite these claims, the streams and downloads were DRM free with the iPhone getting higher quality h264. What a complete joke.

I have some ideas involving the BBC making their flash / javascript bothering iplayer web service more versatile and accessible - here is a code example.

<a href="/downloads/$programme_name.m4v">Click to Download</a>

Amazing isn't it?

Re:iFailure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41198539)

...but I don't want to download the programs. I want to watch live streams, with the ability to restart the program from the beginning (think on demand TiVo for streams). I want to be able to switch between the SD & HD streams without losing my place in the program. I want to abandon a program I'm watching and come back later and continue from where I left off. I want adaptive rate limiting so the quality adjusts itself if my internet connection becomes a little slow, instead of just dropping the stream or corrupting playback.

So I guess once your awesome and ideologically pure HTML5/h.264 solution can do all those things I'll be happy.

Re:iFailure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41198585)

...but I don't want to download the programs. I want to watch live streams,

What are you talking about? A "stream" is effectively a partial download, mplayer and vlc handle them fine.

with the ability to restart the program from the beginning (think on demand TiVo for streams).

Which media player software doesn't allow this?

I want to be able to switch between the SD & HD streams without losing my place in the program.

If the content is streamed you're not going to lose your place by switching between them.

I want to abandon a program I'm watching and come back later and continue from where I left off.

With mplayer I use pgdn and the right arrow key for fastforward. A monkey could do it.

I want adaptive rate limiting so the quality adjusts itself if my internet connection becomes a little slow, instead of just dropping the stream or corrupting playback.

Which is funny because dropouts and corruption made the few things I attempted to watch using their flash player (Levenson, Olympics) unwatchable.

Re:iFailure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41200065)

A "stream" is effectively a partial download

No, it isn't.

Which media player software doesn't allow this?

Which media player software does allow this in a live stream?

If the content is streamed you're not going to lose your place by switching between them.

How does you media player understand the relationship between the two streams?

Which is funny because dropouts and corruption made the few things I attempted to watch using their flash player (Levenson, Olympics) unwatchable.

While good, it's not magic. If your internet connection is a damp piece of string from Bodgeit & Leggit Internet Ltd., then it's not the BBC's fault if the packets don't reach your machine. Works perfectly well for me and, well, everyone else I know, but then we're on Virgin Cable or a decent Sky Internet DSL connection. You should try it sometime.

Re:iFailure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41200495)

No, it isn't.

Yes, it is.

Which media player software does allow this in a live stream?

All of them if you know what you're doing.

wget -b $streamurl
mplayer $streamfile

How does you media player understand the relationship between the two streams?

It doesn't need to, I just pass it the correct stream URL as a parameter. You said switch between "streams" implying that they're concurrent.

While good, it's not magic. If your internet connection is a damp piece of string from Bodgeit & Leggit Internet Ltd., then it's not the BBC's fault if the packets don't reach your machine. Works perfectly well for me and, well, everyone else I know, but then we're on Virgin Cable or a decent Sky Internet DSL connection. You should try it sometime.

It was at work where we have a dedicated leased line. I don't know where the network congestion was. iPlayer simply does not work as well as the command line tools I use for video on my home machines. It doesn't matter if there's network congestion when I'm downloading to disk using a seperate process. I can rewind or quit and start watching again as often as I like.

Re:iFailure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41200905)

You said switch between "streams" implying that they're concurrent.

You've never actually used BBC iPlayer, have you?

wget -b $streamurl
mplayer $streamfile

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!

Oh God...please tell me you were serious? That would make it even funnier! Yes, the BBC should replace their incredibly easy to use and fabulously successful Flash based iPlayer with...wget and mplayer! You truly are the genius of the decade.

Bring it back everywhere for everyone (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41198499)

The web is full of flash and adobe should continue to release flash for mobile devices because of it. Just because they don't run on Apple tablets, doesn't mean there isn't a demand from Android tablet users.

Re:Bring it back everywhere for everyone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41198733)

There is not. Really. Global mobile traffic is 5-10% of all traffic, how much of it is Android depends on who you ask, but let's say half. It'll go down even more if you count how many of those actually need Flash player - as a personal anecdote, I use Flash a lot on my desktop, but only time I used it on my Xoom was right after I bought it, just to try it.

Not that I agree with decision, but I can see how it makes business sense to drop support costs for one or two percents of users of the product that doesn't make them any money - note how they still support mobile Flash in the form of Adobe AIR.

Anyways, Flash format specifications are open, so maybe someone will write a replacement (not holding my breath for this one, though)

iplayer is powered by ADOBE... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41198543)

most of the streaming is powered by ADOBE... and they have protected (DRM) the iplayer using the flash platform so BBC simply asked them...

"shall we keep your server software and you can put flash back into the Android store OR we dump your server software... which is it ?"

regards

John Jones

Why is this even an issue for the BBC? (4, Interesting)

GordonBX (1059078) | about 2 years ago | (#41198583)

iPlayer works just fine on my iPhone & iPad and the recent Olympics app streamed up to 24 channels of video live. Seems to me the BBC could do just fine without Flash so why the big problem?

Re:Why is this even an issue for the BBC? (2)

MLCT (1148749) | about 2 years ago | (#41198729)

They are coding an HTML5 version for android, but that takes time, and QA for an application that millions will download and use really matters. It would be a very bad idea to release a buggy HTML5 application.

Since Adobe have behaved like a bunch of amateurs on flash for android (bin a framework on a whim without any sort of reasonable migration framework over a sensible amount of time), everyone else is playing catchup.

The BBC are coding a new android application, but they don't have 10's of developers that they can just deploy to recode something in a week or two. This extension will be just for a month or so until they can transition with a stable player. The situation reflects badly on Adobe for dropping support in such a shoddy manner.

Re:Why is this even an issue for the BBC? (1)

GordonBX (1059078) | about 2 years ago | (#41199311)

There is already an HTML5 website - it works fine in safari on the iPhone, so although I can understand the issue if they want a native (java) app for Android, but when all they are doing is searching for videos and then streaming them, what's wrong with them delivering the same one that works on the iPhone?

Re:Why is this even an issue for the BBC? (2)

cyber-vandal (148830) | about 2 years ago | (#41199527)

Because on an open platform like Android the filthy pirates would have a field day. iOS, being designed to prevent users from using their computer in ways inconvenient to Apple and other large corporations, is much more suited to preventing people taking advantage of HTML5's inconvenient lack of DRM.

Re:Why is this even an issue for the BBC? (2)

Blue Stone (582566) | about 2 years ago | (#41200937)

Yeah, iOS deviced have DRM in the hardware, so the Beeb can stream to those devices knowing that license holders will be happy. Android doesn't have that DRM built in so license holders fear pircay will result.

So, to watch BBC programmes on my Android device, because the Beeb won't run a non-flash version on Android, I'm forced to pirate their programmes (which is easy as pie). Erm ...

Hang on ... I must've got something wrong ....

Oh ... nope ... just a whole lot of piracy/DRM bollocks achieving absolutely nothing other than inconveniencing the customer (license fee payer using Android).

Same old, same old.

Re:Why is this even an issue for the BBC? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41205473)

The BBC are coding a new android application, but they don't have 10's of developers that they can just deploy to recode something in a week or two

The BBC does have hundreds of developers. About 30 work on something called "JPortal", a vastly over-engineered sharepoint site that's running about 4 years behind schedule.

About 10 work on something called "Gamesgrid" (http://www.broadcastnow.co.uk/news/multiplatform/bbc-to-integrate-online-games-with-grid-tool/5029324.article), nothing to do with the BBC's core business.

Millions have been spent on DMI, the BBC's "digital library". Which hasn't managed to produce anything usable on the archive front. Perhaps 18 months time, as long as you only want to archive specific files, in specific formats (and forget about archiving anything at 29.97fps in it)

iPlayer hate? (1)

DaveGod (703167) | about 2 years ago | (#41198591)

Seems to be a lot of crapping on iPlayer in here.

Surprised at this, because I find iPlayer is a hundred times better than the other services I've used: 4OD, 5Player, ITV and LoveFilm. (I'm not counting YouTube due to the content.) To be fair, a large part of this is probably that iPlayer downloads at about 9Mb/s for me.

Incidentally my opinions on the services are roughly the opposite from what should reasonably be expected. YouTube can be the best, even the advertising is trivial. Admittedly "can be" is a bit of a caveat, not many videos are high quality, I'm not supposed to be able to download them, and it does require letting the videos buffer (probably their major advantage is they do actually let you, however).

iPlayer is second-best, even though they have no means of generating revenue from my viewing. 4OD, 5Player and ITV are utterly shit in every way, even though they're the ones making money from my viewing. LoveFilm (the UK's closest equivalent to Netflix, other than Netflix which doesn't have rights to much here) is the worst of the bunch even though it's a premium service.

Re:iPlayer hate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41198693)

Youtube flash / HTML5 players don't buffer properly at all. There was a time you could hit pause, come back 5 minutes later and the full video had downloaded. Now their players only buffer a little in front of the play head before stopping, then there's the caching / resume issues and the stupid fucking adverts. Vimeo has a web player that actually seems to work and thank the gods for youtube-dl.

Re:iPlayer hate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41198747)

OK, so that's not just me. I've noticed that I can't watch videos anymore because it only caches a small amount and not enough to keep ahead of where the player is actually playing. It's annoying as it means that I can't just let it buffer out far enough for an uninterrupted playing experience.

Re:iPlayer hate? (1)

msclrhd (1211086) | about 2 years ago | (#41198777)

Not only that, but if you have watched 75% of the video and go back near the beginning, youtube will forget that you have over 75% already and only keep the small play-ahead buffer. And, if you leave the video and come back after a certain period it will refuse to load more data saying "an error has occurred", so you need to refresh the page.

Re:iPlayer hate? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 2 years ago | (#41203903)

Annoying, isn't it. What's more I'm pretty sure it didn't do that at one time.

Re:iPlayer hate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41198875)

Good thing Youtube actually seems to buffer fast enough to play uninterrupted anyway then, eh? Too bad I can't say the same for Vimeo. Every time someone links to a video on Vimeo instead of Youtube it's like "Well, I better go get a sandwich, this could take a while."

And is it just me, or does a video on Youtube, when using the HTML5 trial, take about 15 seconds longer to start than it does in the Flash version?

Tell you what. Let's dump Flash when HTML5 is actually better than flash, not worse like it currently is. And not a moment sooner.

Re:iPlayer hate? (1)

Spad (470073) | about 2 years ago | (#41199547)

iPlayer is awesome, the iPlayer Android app is fucking awful.

Flash-dependant, doesn't work over 3G on most phones & networks, can't play in the background or with the screen off (for the Radio streams), to name but a few issues with it.

Flash going away from Android and staying would be the best thing that could happen to the iPlayer app.

Here's my fix (4, Interesting)

awjr (1248008) | about 2 years ago | (#41198621)

It's a pain but you can get around it. You need to use the xscope browser and the flash apk. Works a treat on BBC and Channel 4 OD . Video I made about how to do it on a Nexus here [youtube.com] . Should work with other 4.1 devices.

Personally this really sucks. The internet is playing catch-up to a forced move away from a technology. It's not that the device cannot run flash, just made it slightly annoying. Google's decision not to put it into Chrome is annoying at most :(

Ahh now I see (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41198661)

If I switch away from Chrome it works on my tablet. Well FU Google. I want Flash more than I want Chrome.

WTF is with Adobe & Flash!!! (1)

FudRucker (866063) | about 2 years ago | (#41198699)

why is the internet even continuing to use flash if those greedy good for nothing fucks at Adobe is not going to contunie to develop & support it, they screwed Linux, and now they are screwing Android, but they suck up to google chrome browser and ms-win, flash should have died 10 years ago and/or went fully open source GPLv3 sheesh either let it live free or put it out of our misery and quit yanking people around with it you sorry cocksuckers at Adobe

Re:WTF is with Adobe & Flash!!! feedback T&am (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41198791)

Heh don't hold back... ;) Adobe's feedback forms [adobe.com] just in case you want to let them know how you feel.... don't forget to read and agree with their feedback T&C's. Eh, WTF feedback T&C's- seriously Adobe? Are you attempting to out do The SCO Group when it comes with alienating customers? T&C's on feedback.... geez... Adobe have you hired the twat Paul Christoforo of Ocean Marketing infamy as your head of PR or something? T&C's... wow. just wow.

Choice is Good! (1)

Jaxim (858185) | about 2 years ago | (#41198769)

Giving users the choice to install flash on their mobile devices is good thing. It should be the people not installing flash player that should dictate that flash dies on the platform, not pressure from tech elitists.

Before it was removed from Google Play, the flash player was one of the top 5 things installed from the marketplace. That tells me that people wanted flash player. Adobe shouldn't have caved. They should have waited until people didn't want to install the flash player anymore. They should have waited until HTML5 was more popular than flash. They should have waited until HTML5 could do everything that flash could do.

But alas, I imagine the tech elitists here will say that choice is not a good thing, which I think is a shame.

Re:Choice is Good! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41199555)

Some sites have FLV files. Those run with Flash, but can be saved and ran with VLC. There's also SWF files that can be saved from sites. With HTML5, will it be possible to save such content to one's drive and do as one pleases? And how hard will it be to block HTML5 video?

I have a separate browser (Opera) on this machine that I'm using at the moment solely for the purpose of Flash. Flash does not touch my main browser on this machine.

My laptop, being frozen, doesn't have Flash, but I can run the install file to install Flash on an as-needed basis.

Remember the original rationale for Flash (2)

Squiff (1658137) | about 2 years ago | (#41198997)

The BBC originally based their iPlayer software around windows media player and were heavily criticised at the time for using a solution that blocked non-windows platforms, including Apple, mobile and Linux. This was principally because they wanted to DRM all of the downloaded files in the interests of 'rights holders', i.e. BBC worldwide (their commercial arm). This includes automatically deleting files after a certain time from your computer amongst other things. They were ordered by the BBC commission (basically their governors) to come up with a cross-platform solution pronto and chose Flash as it covered a wide enough range of devices to get them off the hook in a hurry- bear in mind that iPlayer apps are also available for Windows Mobile; Symbian; Nintendo Wii; xBox 360; Sony PS3 etc. which can all use Flash. There have been third party solutions that made content accessible beautifully and they have all been removed due to pressure from the BBC due to 'concerns from rightsholders', i.e. sidestepping DRM. The issue is not with finding a cross-platform codec or software, the problem is the BBC wanting a cross-platform DRM in a diverse technology environment. This is why they are having to build and support all these different apps and are crapping it about Flash going away.
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