France 24, in cooperation with Backelite, released an iPad application on April 3rd 2010 - the very first day of the American release of Apple's latest pride and joy!
What does this application do?
Utilizing a new, unique, fluidly animated navigation flow, users can access not just France24's standard web offerings, but also quickly and easily swipe, drag and flick their way into the latest broadcasts, live feeds in three languages, and other Video On Demand content. The experience is elevated even further by the iPad's wide, bright screen.
Major features of this application include:
- Geolocalized articles displayed on an interactive full-screen map
- Articles and news wire browsing using Drupal taxonomy tags and categories
- In-app multi-language support: English, Arabic and French
- High resolution On Demand Videos of the latest TV broadcasts
- App customization through the selection of "my favorite tags" or categories
- Live feed video Streaming
Here's a video review of the application, created by France 24's advertising department:
Results and reviews:
Since its release, "France24" on the iPad has been downloaded approximately 3000 times and is currently among the most downloaded Free apps in the French itunes store ! (iTunes will open if you follow this link).
A lot of positive feedback was seen on twitter, and several blogs posted reviews of the app. Here are a few examples :
Technical aspects :
This application is built on two different technical layers, one developed by Backelite, and the other one by France 24 Studio Multimedia's developer team.
All content is stored in our Drupal databases and accessed by the application through the newly developed France 24 API. The API provides a JSON web service that returns feeds containing the MySQL query results.
The JSON output of this feed is then interpreted and displayed on the client's iPad using the latest Apple SDK components and behaviors.
Current known issues:
At present, the major concerns with this application are linked to the live video feed. We have identified a bug in Apple's iPad SDK that prevents the video player from switching between video streaming and downloading.
Our current solution has forced us to redirect the user out of the application and into the iPad's built-in Safari web browser to view the live feed. This bug is currently being fixed by Apple's team and we will release a new version of the application as soon as the bug has been fixed.
The live video feed itself also currently suffers from some quality problems, therefore MBR (multi bit rate) feeds ranging from Apple-recommended 64kbps to broadband WiFi 750kbps are not yet available. The current feed is a fixed medium quality 450kbps feed, which is still more than acceptable on a reliable wifi network.
We should very soon be able to install new servers and see gains in both quality and stability of the live feed, in order to offer the best of the iPad video streaming experience for both Wifi and 3G versions. Unfortunately, the installation of new streaming servers by our streaming partner Yacast has been delayed by the dreadful Icelandic volcano eruption!
NOTE : [As you read this post, the issues with the live feed have been addressed by the installation of new streaming servers]
By utilizing our API in conjunction with built-in Apple SDK components, it's now much easier for us to put the finishing touches on the soon-to-be-released iPhone version of this application as well as porting to Android and BlackBerry platforms.
France 24 Studio Multimedia is also involved in the development of the French international news radio broadcast station RFI (radio france international) which utilizes many of same custom Drupal modules as France 24. Therefore, RFI fans will also soon be able to browse through their favorite radio broadcasts and articles using their iPads.
No matter if you're on an Android phone, an iPhone, an iPad or a Blackberry, Studio Multimedia's got things cooking to feed your France24 and RFI needs - Stay tuned!