Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Media app updates: BBC adds portrait to iPad version of its news app; Weather Channel updates iPhone app

The Beeb has issued a major update to its universal iOS news app. The stand-alone BBC News app has added new features and customization that should prove important to users (though we here in the U.S. would love to see the whole issue of the BBC iPlayer resolved so that we can start using a fully functional app rather than settle for what the cable companies will allow).

The app update adds a new portrait orientation for the iPad, as well as a new edit button which allows users to add, remove or re-order categories.

The update also changes the design of the iPhone version, increasing the size of the images inside the app. Users can also refresh by pulling down on the app.

Going back to the iPlayer situation: with the BBC America channel on so many cable systems, the Beeb has found that it has to make a choice between its TV channel and launching its iPlayer on these shores.

"The United States is a very complex media market. Currently, we have one very successful cable channel in BBC America, and we’re looking into what options we have to roll out additional platforms in that country," Tessa Matchett, BBC’s Head of Communications for Global iPlayer, said last fall.

Meanwhile, the BBC executive responsible for the iPlayer, Daniel Danker, has jumped ship to Shazam – yep, that app that identifies music. If anything says "rats fleeing the ship" that has to be it.

The Weather Channel seems to love issuing updates to its apps. There are few media properties, other than Twitter I suppose, that issues as many.

This afternoon's iPhone app update does not add back in the animated wallpaper that was so attractive, but was a memory hog. But this is what users will see new:
What's New in Version 5.3.0
- Improved 15-minute forecasts within your Hourly view
- EXPECT RAIN tab on your Now screen. If snow, rain or thunderstorms start or change in the next 6 hours the EXPECT RAIN tab appears to let you know
- Cleaner design for faster navigation to your live radar and maps, the latest videos, and local pollen levels
- New video player with enhanced viewing experience
- Bug fixes and performance enhancements
- Improved severe weather alerts