Windows Phone users will be disappointed to hear that there are currently no plans for a native BBC iPlayer app on Windows Phone. Daniel Danker of the BBC has said that it’s far too costly to spend time creating an app for Windows Phone at the moment, and that this is all down to the technology featured in Windows Phone handsets like Nokia’s Lumia phones. In other words, it’s all Microsoft’s fault. The problem is that Microsoft haven’t gone out of their way to make things easy for developers, which is exactly why hardly anybody wants to make apps for their operating system.
Daniel Danker has this to say about the difficulties of creating an iPlayer app for Microsoft: “We can build a full app – the kind you get in the Marketplace. This is completely bespoke to Windows Phone 7, and is the costliest option because Windows Phone uses technologies unlike those used on any other platform. While Android and Apple also use their own app technologies, the TV and radio programmes themselves can be created once and used across both, so much of the investment is reusable. Sadly this is not the case for Windows Phone. Unfortunately Microsoft have also announced that Windows Phone 8 apps will be different yet again, so any Windows Phone 7 app we make would have to be rebuilt from the ground up for the next version of Windows Phone.”
In other words, there are two big problems at play here. Firstly, even if the BBC did bother with making an iPlayer app for Windows Phone 7, it would have to be completely rebuilt as soon as Windows Phone 8 is released, which makes the whole endeavour somewhat pointless. Most importantly, though, the BBC would have to go out of their way to create a whole new app for Windows Phone, when the app they use for Android and iOS can be reusable between platforms. Given that Windows Phone accounts for such a small proportion of the market, is it really worth the Beeb’s time? It’s hard to blame them for choosing to sit this one out.
Danker has also pointed out that Windows Phone users are encouraged to access BBC iPlayer by simply going to the website on their phone’s internet browser. However, Microsoft haven’t made this easy either, since there’s a bug in Windows Phone which prevents the handset from playing iPlayer videos. “Microsoft has been aware of the bug for over a year now, and we’re hopeful they’ll address it (on Windows Phone 7 as well as Windows Phone 8) so our Windows Phone audiences can access iPlayer,” notes Danker. Once again, the blame seems to fall squarely on Microsoft’s shoulders.
It would be fair to say that at present it’s not exactly easy for developers to create apps that are compatible with Windows Phone, though we’re told that Microsoft are attempting to do something about this. If it were Android that app developers had to go out of their way to cater to, nobody would hesitate, but Microsoft – with a measly 5% of the market – simply do not have the pull. Hopefully, this will be corrected with the launch of Windows Phone 8. For now though, if you want to catch up on EastEnders, it looks like you’re gonna have to do it the old-fashioned way – by putting down your phone and pulling up a seat in front of the television.