ABC brings its TV and radio line-up to the iPhone.
The launch of the ABC's new mobile Web site has been accompanied by the release of applications for the iPhone and Google's Android platform. The iPhone app is a great way to read news and download ABC podcasts, though it has some annoying limitations.
- Podcast streaming, nice interface, easy to navigate, loads quickly
- Podcasts must be streamed over Wi-Fi, podcasts can't be stored
ABC's iPhone app provides a tailored way to watch, read and listen to news and entertainment on the handset. You can't stream podcasts over 3G, however.
ABC's mobile site has a simple layout that provides you with the news as well as radio and TV schedules. For the most part, the iPhone app fulfils the same functions but offers a more "iPhone-esque" interface, complete with a navigation toolbar at the bottom and an arguably more attractive layout than the mobile Web site.
The navigation bar has links to News, TV and Radio, as well as categories like Sport, Triple J and Movie Reviews. The ABC Shop is also available, but this is little more than a list of the latest products and a national telephone number.
Navigation is fast and easy thanks to the layout, and we had no difficulties when connecting over 3G. News articles are tailored to the iPhone's resolution, making them easy to read. There is an option to send an article link via e-mail to a friend. Radio and TV schedules are categorised into morning, afternoon and evening timeslots.
The ABC Mobile Web site is limited to text and images, but the ABC iPhone app allows you to stream many of the numerous podcasts the ABC makes available, including At the Movies, Media Watch and a host of Triple J radio and Triple J TV audio and video podcasts. The only podcast we couldn't find (and were eager for) was the Gruen Transfer, but considering the TV series has only just resumed broadcasting, this may come later.
Podcasts can't be stored on the iPhone, which is a disappointing but understandable restriction. The one aspect of the app that is frustrating, however, is the inability to stream or download podcasts over cellular data. This is a common restriction placed on large downloads by Apple and other developers, but these restrictions are often lifted for smaller files under 10MB. The ABC podcasts are optimised for the iPhone and many are below 10MB — but even these podcasts are unavailable unless you are using Wi-Fi.
If you need your government-funded news and entertainment while on the go, the ABC iPhone app is definitely the best way of doing this. The ability to read news, see schedules and stream podcasts is great. Searching for "ABC" in the iPhone App Store returns dozens of hits, so finding this app is best done by searching for its full name, "Australian Broadcasting Corporation".
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