So after a fairly long wait, iPlayer v3 beta is now public. There's been lots written on it, but mainly from a TV point of view, so here's a brief run down of what's new for radio fans who use the iPlayer console to listen live or on-demand.
Firstly, the pop-out console is a new size and shape. It now most resembles a smartphone... which is clearly not a coincidence!
The main new features are:
1. Favourites: ability to add programme brands as "favourites", which then are available under the Favourites tab. It'll remember them with a cookie, but if you register and log in you it'll work across different machines. This is a major step forward and will make using the console a whole lot better for regular users who know what they like.
2. Recommend: ability to recommend programmes, and for those recommendations to be seen by your friends on Facebook and Twitter, if you've linked your accounts, and in the main iPlayer site. Great if you like telling your friends what you like listening to. Don't we all?
3. Station presets. You can now edit which radio stations you want under the Stations tab, including adding local stations. A pretty basic but essential addition.
The other really significant change is that there are no longer full "item" or "episode" pages for each radio programme in the iPlayer site. From now on, to get more programme information, there's one definitive place to go to get it - the radio station site, which should have all the basic programme information and any other rich content produced. This means there is no longer duplication between iPlayer and station site, which is a good thing for users (less confusion about where to go) and for SEO (no more splitting incoming links).
The other features are based in the main iPlayer site, so I won't go into detail about those, but read what Anthony Rose has to say for more.
Overall, this represents a fairly big move forward for BBC radio in iPlayer, mainly because the previous console was feature-lite, to say the least. There are lots more exciting develpments coming later this year with the next major iteration of the console, known as "Radioplayer". I'll blog about that nearer the time.
Check the beta iPlayer here