Why There Won't Be An Android ABC iview App

After several delays, the official iPhone app for the ABC's excellent iview catch-up TV service was released earlier this week. Unfortunately for Android owners, it's going to be a while before there will be an equivalent Android app.

The ABC explains its reasoning on its iview site. One factor is that the ABC is ultimately planning to rebuild iView as an HTML5 app, which will mean it can run on a wide range of devices. A second issue is the fragmented nature of the Android market, which means no single app would run on the range of Android hardware builds and versions available, and which makes development and testing more complex. A third issue — arguably the least obvious to a casual observer — is that rights protection is tricky:

Another factor for us is the stringent requirements around video streaming which mean we can only deploy apps that adequately protect streams from being downloaded. Third party rights-holders insist on this protection in order to stream their programs online. This is a more expensive and difficult exercise on Android as each manufacturer has provided varying degrees of support for secure streaming standards such as HLS. The ABC is committed to ensuring that when we deploy iview to new platforms the entire iview catalog is made available. We don't want to create a situation where certain programs are not made available to certain users with Android devices.

The FAQ also points out that many Android devices have browsers which support Flash, meaning they can access the standard web version of iview. Unfortunately, that's no true of newer devices such as the Nexus 7 running the native Android version of Chrome, which doesn't include Flash. Let's hope that HTML5 version comes along speedily.


Comments

    We can watch in a normal browser too, unlike iOS users..

    "protect streams from being downloaded" DRM strikes again, no wonder we all download.

    So the reason they can't roll out an iView app is that their contract requires a certain level of security for streaming which Android apps can't always meet... but then they point out Android users can watch the regular Flash version through a browser.

    I'm no programmer but why not just design a version of the iView site that uses Flash but changes the layout to suit phones and tablets? You could even package it as an Android app that just loads the URL. If Flash provides enough security to keep the rights-holders happy why not use it? Am I being technically naive here?

      IIRC, weren't Adobe abandoning the mobile version of Flash anyway? Wasn't it removed when Android 4.0 (ICS) came out?

        Nope, still flash on ICS. Although Adobe isn't supporting it on Jelly Bean.

      I call BS on the security reason. There is a program for linux where you can download any iview video.

    "Another factor for us is the stringent requirements around video streaming which mean we can only deploy apps that adequately protect streams from being downloaded."

    I guess they really screwed up with the web app then.

    The decision to create a HTML5 app for cross platform is a great technical decision and is all that was needed there. The BS about screen size fragmentation is just that, BS. Android provides good documentation and samples on how to create an app that will display well on multiple screen sizes and densities. If it were chipset fragmentation for creating a player using the NDK then yes they would be correct to complain about that, not screen sizes...

    Also, Android 3.0 and higher support HLS out of the box so if they are really worried about that in a year's time when they complete the HTML5 app and Android 4.0 will have the highest number of users anyway, just set android:minSdkVersion="11" and you are done.

    How is support for secure transport such as HLS relevant to phone manufacturer?
    It's ABC's responsibility to implement it in their iview client software.

    And to be fair to the ABC, it's not as if they are ignoring Android altogether. The Android ABC News apps is available from Google Play, and includes streaming audio of just about all the ABC radio stations. I have it, but it doesn't include interactivity on the Drum page (ie., comments.)

    I watch iView on a Galaxy Nexus with the native browser and Flash plug in.

    What I've always wanted to see was an indication of ho w much of a program has been pre cached so I could cache a program on the home WiFi and then watch it later on public transport. Now I know they have DRM issues I can see why this doesn't exist.

    It's important to remember that you only get unmetered ABC iview through the browser application, not the iphone application (most of the time it will actually tell you that). Until they fix that, no iview for me on my iPad

    Just another pathetic cop out from lazy developers who only bend to the will of high level execs carrying around iDevices.

    iView's crappy as hell on all devices I've seen it on. I don't see why this is a big deal. No access to a subpar service, oh no.

    I'm still waiting for the ABC to boost their DTV signal in my area. 7/9/10 are perfect. Even SBS has just come good. I am channel tuning as I write this.

    I still want iview for Android. Drop flash....

    "We don’t want to create a situation where certain programs are not made available to certain users with Android devices."

    So they're advocating they allow a situation where ALL programs are not made available to ALL users with Android devices? Worse is better?

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