BBC releases iPlayer for Mac and Linux

The BBC has announced that a version of its iPlayer application for Mac and Linux operating systems is now available for download by Mac users in the U.K.

The BBC has worked with Adobe to develop a cross-platform version of its BBC iPlayer Desktop application; the new version of iPlayer uses Adobe Air technology to enable cross-platform support. iPlayer is the BBC’s online media player that enables viewers to watch television programmes online up to seven days after they have been broadcast.

While Mac users have been able to watch iPlayer content via the BBC iPlayer Web site, the new application enables them to download shows and store them locally on their computer.

Users looking to download the new iPlayer Desktop application can get a trial version from the Labs section of the iPlayer site. The BBC news site claims that a finished version is likely to be released in February 2009.

When iPlayer was fist launched, the BBC was heavily criticised by both the Mac and Linux communities for creating a program that only worked with Microsoft Windows XP. The Windows version of iPlayer uses Microsoft’s Digital Rights Management (DRM) to ensure that television programmes can not be watched after seven days.

Speaking to the BBC news Web site, the BBC’s head of digital media Anthony Rose defended the BBC’s adoption of DRM technology saying: “The BBC Trust said we could make content available for seven or 30 days after broadcast,” he said. “The ability to take things away after some time requires DRM.”

BBC iPlayer now uses three DRM technologies: Windows Media Player, Adobe Air and OMA for mobile devices. The BBC also enables media to be streamed (but not downloaded) to the iPhone in using Apple’s H.264 codec. Because Apple does not share its FairPlay DRM with other companies the BBC has had to use Adobe Air to enable DRM content to be downloaded to the Mac. Because the iPhone does not support Adobe Flash, a version of BBC iPlayer for iPhone would seem to be still some way away.

“We may embrace other DRMs as needed,” said Mr. Rose. The BBC news site also noted that putting the iPlayer on phones, game consoles and more computers was helping to drive the success of the application.

The BBC iPlayer service is only available to users with a IP address located within the United Kingdom.

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