The BBC has decided to extend iPlayer download to almost every Android smartphone and tablet on the market – bringing its service to a much larger share of mobile devices as a result.
So far, the download feature of the iPlayer Android app has been limited to select devices but it is now on offer to anyone running Android Ice Cream Sandwich, version 4.0, or later.
This means 96 percent of Android users can now download BBC iPlayer content for offline viewing.
The BBC has stopped extensively testing devices to add them to the exclusive list of compatible devices, which previously included mainly Google Nexus and Samsung Galaxy devices. It also had a handful of HTC and Sony handsets.
The BBC issued the following statement about the decision: “We believe that the vast majority of devices will enjoy a great video downloading experience. However, with more than five thousand different phone, phablet and tablet models able to install the BBC iPlayer Android app, there are likely to be a number of devices that exhibit bugs concerning download behaviour.”
It said the move was due to public demand and made possible thanks to its Mobile Compatibility Programme.
The only caveat is that should the BBC be aware of any major problems with a particular device and operating system combination, it may disable the feature while it looks into whether it can be fixed.
The BBC has made extensive changes to its iPlayer streaming service of late as it strives to compete with rivals such as Netflix and Amazon. These include a major re-design and additional functions such as the extension of its catch-up window.
Update: A list of devices with the download feature currently disabled due to problems is available here.