TV-Related iPad Apps
In the first of a few features looking at TV-related apps for the iPad, here’s a quick overview of the apps put out by the main UK broadcasters themselves. All of them require a wifi connection, so no relying on 3G. And, from quick experimentation – none of them work abroad. They have limited use, but when you want to just lie up in bed watching something you missed on your iPad – they’re invaluable.
The grandfather of all view-on-demand services, it’s a neat little app, and works very nicely on the iPad. There’s not much pixelation, except when a show starts up, and it’s nice to be able to mark your favourite programmes. You can’t download, as you can with the PC version, but for catching up with BBC shows, it offers a wide range of shows and they’re usually up pretty quickly.
The ITV Player iPad app is a little grungier than its BBC cousin. I encountered more pixelation through shows, but they were still perfectly watchable (if you can call X Factor that!). There don’t appear to be as many shows listed as the BBC iPlayer, but it’s perfectly serviceable and has the biggest shows at least. You are subjected to an advert as you boot up each show, however.
Channel 4’s offering is very much like its PC one. You can watch older shows as well as recently-missed ones and it’ll tell you how long you have to watch them – and which episodes are available. For example, currently you can watch five episodes of season 1 of Spaced but only for the next 29 days! You can also search by title and by recent date, as well as recommended shows. As with the ITV app, there’s an advert before the show starts, and sponsorship message by Heineken.
If you’re a Sky subscriber, you can simply go to the relevant page, sign up for your Sky ID and download the free app from iTunes. It includes a TV guide, summary of what’s on at the time. If you’re not a Sky subscriber you can either sign up for Sky or buy a monthly ticket for the service, costing between £15 and £40 a month, depending on what channels you want access to. The cheapest one includes Sky 1 and Sky Atlantic as well as a smattering of more general channels. It’s a bit confusing though, as the £15 package mentions PC/Mac/Xbox/PS3 and all the more expensive packages mention iPod and iPad – but when I asked an adviser, they said the £15 one would work on the iPad too. Tempted!
I went and downloaded the Five app just to see what it was like – and Demand 5 is currently all about Big Brother and may well stay that way for quite some time. If you like Big Brother though it has around a week’s worth of episodes, as well as some of the Bit on the Side accompanying shows. A short advert launches the player and the video seems pretty good quality – but I couldn’t watch it for long!
It’s a good reminder though, that there are many TV shows with apps specific to them and we’ll take a look at some of those in coming weeks. If you have any suggestions, please let us know in comments below!