BBC launches new iPlayer

The BBC today unveiled a new version of its iPlayer that it claims is "simpler, more personal and connected".

The new beta version of the Beeb's on-demand player enables users to share and recommend content via Facebook and micro-blogging platform Twitter. Viewers can also log into Windows Live Messenger directly from the application and invite friends to join them in watching a programme.

First introduced in 2007, the BBC's iPlayer service delivered a record 123 million TV and radio streams last month. Today's revamp makes content easier to find, with TV and radio content separated and 'sliding drawers' to file favourites, enabling users to personalise the player. The player's look has changed a little, too, with a larger default screen size and fewer buttons.

Later this summer, iPlayer will provide links to programmes hosted by ITV Player, 4oD, Clic, Demand Five and SeeSaw, as a result of deals with TV channels ITV, Channel 4, S4C and Five, and online provider Arqiva. Integration with more social media sites is also in the works.

BBC Director of Future Media and Technology, Erik Huggers, said in a statement: "The launch of this version of the BBC iPlayer is part of our strategy to do fewer things even better and make it more simple, personal and connected."

"We must no longer try to do everything online," Huggers added, "but focus on delivering genuinely world-class products like BBC iPlayer."

Explaining iPlayer's new social media features, Huggers continued: "Bringing the benefits of emerging technologies to the public is in the BBC's DNA as its sixth public purpose."

Technology chief Huggers was, however, keen to head off suggestions that the BBC planned to move into social media itself. "As we focus on what public service means in a digital age, we are working to set clear boundaries for BBC Online," said Huggers. "We don't want to build a social network, microblogging or instant messaging service."