To champion its status as the official Olympic broadcaster, the BBC recently announced it would offer 24 SD and HD extra Games channels to Sky, Freesat and Virgin Media users.
Those same channels, plus Olympic news from the BBC website and results, are available in the free BBC Olympics app for iOS available in the iTunes App Store.
The app is intuitive and simple to navigate but there are some oddities which users will be forgiven for finding confusing and unsatisfactory.
The inclusion of stories direct from bbc.co.uk means Olympic articles include links to wholly unrelated articles – a story about the BBC’s Olympic title sequence links to stories about Batman’s box office takings and the sad death of actor Simon Ward.
In merely merely wrapped existing content in Olympic branding the BBC’s developers have failed provide the immersive experience many users will be expecting.
It gets worse: though the app is billed as being compatible with the iPad and iPhone, it’s actually an iPhone app which has be stretched to fill the iPad’s much larger screen. As always with stretched apps, the result looks dreadful, with video quality losing some of its sharpness when stretched to fill the screen.
The BBC’s standard iOS News app is a thing of beauty which carefully makes use of the iPad’s larger screen and it’s a shame the corporation has pinched pennies by not replicating that experience here.
Overall the BBC Olympics app is a missed opportunity from a broadcaster which has repeatedly shown it can do better. The app is free but it’s still hard to recommend.
Our verdict: 2/5
Update: A BBC spokesperson has been in touch to say: “With regards to the comments about the tablet experience, we do not intend for the app to be used on tablets, rather we intend for users to use the mobile browser site, which is responsive (so the design shifts to fit the dimensions of the particular device you’re using, across mobile and tablet) and offers a great user experience without the need for a specific tablet-only app.”
In which case the Corporation might need to look again at the app’s listing which describes it as “compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad” and which fails to advise tablet users they’ll get a better experience using their browser.
You can read more about the BBC’s mobile Olympics coverage here.