Developed by: ITV / Candyspace
Tested on iPad 2, 64GB, iOS
At first glance, the new ITV Player on iPad looks good: it's
glossy and glittery and includes an A-Z of programmes plus Search
and Help icons. There are no category listings however (unlike the
iPlayer and 4oD apps) and programme information is minimal. Perhaps
that's because many ITV shows are already known brands (e.g. 'The X
Factor') or that the programme titles are self-explanatory
('Wildlife Patrol') so the audience knows what they're getting.
The video experience itself is great. Adaptive bit rate
monitoring means that the app plays video at the highest resolution
it can. Nice.
Two minor design flaws to flag up however: 1) in portrait mode,
the home screen only shows one and a half programmes in the main
display ('Don't Miss') which makes it look asymmetrical (perhaps
that was the aim?) and 2) if you open the app in landscape mode you
see only one main photo and two half photos promoting different
programmes. That's it. There aren't even programme titles to
accompany the images. Clearly, there's a balance between too much
information and too little but if you're new to ITV content prepare
yourself for minimalism.
ITV Player in landscape mode.
First, the positives. Tapping one of the ITV channel options on
the home screen (in portrait mode) expands the menu vertically so
that the user can see and scroll through exactly which programmes
they can catch up with. It's a nifty trick to make best use of the
available space. Also, choose an individual programme and you'll
not only see the episode you requested but previous editions. This
is nicely done. The A-Z is clean and easy to use whatever the
iPad's orientation and the app's search function has possibly the
strongest predictive algorithm known to any video app: tap the
letter 'F', for example, and every single show with an 'F' anywhere
in the title comes up. Excellent.
Sadly, there are some negatives. First, the horizontal scroll
through individual shows is jerky rather than smooth. We're
guessing this is to make sure the user doesn't miss a programme
option but, for us, it detracts from the overall experience a
little. Then there's the navigation which can be a bit confusing.
At random, we used the A-Z and searched the letter 'T'. The first
programme was 'Take Me Out' so we tapped that and, in landscape
mode, we could now see the latest episode of the show in the second
layer of a navigation structure (see image). Scroll horizontally in
either direction and you get the same episode of the same show
again and again. This is odd. Why not just have one central image
with no scrolling? Drag the image toward you and you're back at the
'Don't Miss' top nav level with no possibility of dragging away
from you to go back to 'Take Me Out' without tapping the A-Z
function again. This just seems counter-intuitive.
Landscape navigation structure
Part of the power of on-demand video is that it provides a
long-tail to programmes which would otherwise remain cherished but
inaccessible without buying the DVD. As a broadcaster, ITV knows
this which is why it airs classics like 'Jeeves and Wooster' and
'Kavanagh QC' on ITV3. Unfortunately, this content is hidden on the
ITV Player unless one makes a determined effort to find it either
by choosing 'Programmes by Channel' or actively searching the app.
There's some brilliant stuff here so why not show it by having
individualised screens for, respectively, ITV1, 2, 3, 4, 'Most
Watched' and 'Don't Miss'?
Good but could be better with a few tweaks.