The BBC is going mobile.
The venerable British news organization is actively developing a smartphone app that, according to published reports, will enable BBC reporters in the field to upload video, photos and audio clips directly into the BBC system from an Apple iPhone or iPad.
The new app, due to be in use within a month or so, is also intended to allow reporters to broadcast live from an iPhone using only 3G signal.
Journalism.co.uk recently caught up with Martin Turner, head of operations for newsgathering at BBC. Turner told the British news site that the app’s development represents the future of field newsreporting and is very much “a logical extension of what the BBC can do already.”
“Reporters have been using smartphones for a while now but it was never good quality. You might do it when there was a really important story,” Turner revealed. “Now it is beginning to be a realistic possibility to use iPhones and other devices for live reporting, and in the end if you’ve got someone on the scene then you want to be able to use them. That capability is a really important one.”
Although the app is for internal use and not for the general public to access and play amateur reporter at home, the number of breaking news stories caught by amateurs on the smartphones around the globe must have provided some inspiration for the mobile efforts being made by the BBC.
The development will mean BBC reporters could potentially broadcast live from anywhere with 3G signal and will no longer have to rely on WiFi or carry cumbersome satellite or codex equipment.
Turner, however, made it clear that the BBC isn’t going to be permanently “wedded” to iPhones and iPads in the field, and that other smartphones and tablets may ultimately be put to use.
“We are not wedded to the iPhone by any means,” Turner confesses. “It is just one option. We are using it at the moment because it offers us the best combination of features, but it is not the only solution.”