BBC launches multi-platform downloadable iPlayer using Adobe AIR runtime

Finally people can stop complaining that the BBC only support Windows XP for its downloadable iPlayer application. Using a cross-platform application developed using Adobe’s AIR the BBC have launched a downloadable iPlayer that can run on Windows, Mac and Linux.

I’ve written quite a few times about the iPlayer and it seemed to me that the only viable solution for a cross-platform iPlayer was to use Flash and/or Adobe AIR. The only element I wasn’t sure about was how DRM would be provided:

I think the only technical challenge left to fill in is the provision of a decent DRM scheme to use within Flash video, if Adobe can provide that piece of the puzzle then there’s absolutely no reason for the BBC to use Windows Media DRM and cause thousands of licence payers to be locked out of using a service they are entitled to use.
Quote from "Flash: Can it be a viable alternative to Windows Media DRM for the BBC?" blog post

Well, Adobe stepped up to that challenge, Flash Media Rights Management Server has been used for some time for Adobe Media Player and this same technology is being used for the new iPlayer application. So that’s good news for those of us who don’t use windows. With Adobe’s AIR runtime supporting Linux as well then it makes a pretty good platform.

How do you use the Adobe AIR iPlayer?

At the time of writing this there’s not a lot of content available and I could only find one episode of Never Mind the Buzzcocks that showed a download link. However, that’s simply because content needs to be specifically encoded for this version of the iPlayer so it will take time for content to be encoded and made available.

There’s a few key things to keep in mind, it is currently a Beta program and is part of the iPlayer Labs program. You need to visit the Labs page and opt in to be a Labs tester, once you’ve done this you will then see the download links when they’re available. You will need to download the AIR based iPlayer desktop, although you’ll presumably be prompted to do this if you click on a download link.

The whole install process is pretty simple, the latest Adobe AIR runtime will be installed along with the iPlayer desktop so there’s no need to go and install that beforehand. All in all it’s a pretty simple process and it worked well so far.