Smartphones are great devices but – no matter how much manufacturers say otherwise – their smallish screens aren’t ideal for prolonged web browsing of the sort many people do when reading news.
So of course it makes sense to develop apps where they can make the maximum use of the device’s screen and any native software capabilities and here in the UK The Guardian, Telegraph and Sky have built some excellent apps.
Now, I’m no longer an Android user but I sympathise with the frustration of those Licence Fee payers who are and can’t yet download apps for their smartphones because the BBC has prioritised Apple’s mobile devices.
Of course, in the desktop market the BBC does this to Mac users who were initially locked out of the iPlayer and even this year were only able to download the Doctor Who computer games after PC users had already done so.
I don’t see how it’s acceptable for the BBC to prioritise one brand of mobile or one OS over another – they wouldn’t be allowed to do likewise with a broadcast service – not least because it risks giving one platform a commercial advantage over rivals.
What, I think, makes things worse is that time has been spend on making the BBC news app work on the iPad yet that device – which I’m a massive fan of – has a large screen and a browser capable of displaying pretty much all of the BBC’s standard website.
That is, except the Flash video the corporation insists on using on the news site.
The only rationale for the iPad app seems to be the inclusion of non-Flash video, and yet the BBC happily serves up the iPayer on iDevices using a different video format, something it could easily also do with embedded footage in bbc.co.uk.
This is another point of contention for Android users who are apparently going to miss out unless they have the latest, Flash-enabled version of the OS.
Whatever platform you use, the BBC’s continued favouring and prioritising of one over another isn’t right, in future apps should be developed and released at the same time for the widest range of platforms.