iPlayer Shenanigans.

TV For various reasons I've spent a lot of time using the iPlayer lately notably since programming became available for a month. Some notes:

(1) The Roku 3 app is broken.

 There are black bars at the top and bottom of the screen obscuring part of the picture and no, not because of the ratio of whatever it is that I'm watching. Here's Ian Hislop becoming increasingly cross on Have I Got New For You, as per the Roku:

Notice the top of the BBC logo is cut off.  And in the same shot on the Chromecast:

Which is I think you'll agree is really annoying.  Luckily I have both, but accessing programmes is much, much easier on the Roku, without the rigmarole of having to connect to the Chromecast then navigate through the iPad app to find the latest Helen Castor documentary. According to this Twitter user, it's been like this for months:
Which isn't like the BBC, they're usually right on top of this sort of thing.

(2)  Last week's issue of the Radio Times remain immensely useful.

Although the iPlayer has its categories and schedule functions, both require a lot of scrolling this way and that and prodding or clicking to find out what a programme is about.

But the schedule is still available in an usable format in back issues of your usual listings magazine (which in my case is still the Radio Times).

When I have a spare twenty minutes now I glance through the past week's issue and add anything I might have missed to my favourites and even if I still don't get around to it, iPlayer remembers it anyway and it'll reappear when it's inevitably repeated (which is especially true of BBC Four).

(3)  I miss the RSS feeds.

The iPlayer used to have RSS feeds which updated when programmes were added that couple be run through filtering programmes creating alerts on certain keywords.  They recently turned them off to be replaced by a new API which looks somewhat complicated and isn't properly available to the public yet.

(4)  Archive and Exclusive categories.  Also more subcategories.

I've mentioned this before, but it would be great if the iPlayer had categories for the old programming they upload and for exclusive content.  The former's pretty easy for find via the BBC Four Collections page and the latter does have a page but both are seem to be updated manually by a human and in the case of the latter not everything appears.  The Premium Bond thing isn't there, for example.

It would also be handy if iPlayer took Netflix's lead and included a few more subcategories.  The BBC Music category is becoming increasingly bloated because it dumps everything in together rather than separating between genres and delineating between music and music-related (ie, documentary and interview) content.  The documentary category does have some delineation in a drop down on the website with names like "crime & justice" or "life stories".  Why can't I just look at the classical or jazz content in music?

(5)  Alerts

Which is partly related to (3) and (4) but it would also be useful if there was an alert system for when exclusive and non-broadcast content (including red button) is uploaded to the iPlayer.  There's a whole bunch of stuff, concerts and such, which hasn't appeared on a main television channel which could easily go unnoticed unless a viewer or listener happens to be viewing and listening at the right moment to be directed there by a presenter.  Sometimes items are mentioned in the weekly BBC newsletters but I've resorted to setting up IfTTT email alerts for the @bbciplayer and @bbcarts feeds (and @bbcarchive) to plough through to see if anything crops up.

Otherwise, carry on iPlayer.  You're a modern technological marvel.

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