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.