No Android ABC iView? “Outrageous”, says Huawei



blog Those of us who use Android (which once again includes your humble writer, as I was able to use a kit from the good guys at iFixit to repair my ailing Nexus 4 last night) have long bemoaned the lack of support for the ABC’s popular iView streaming IPTV app. While there are various workaround for the situation, many people have long felt that the ABC has been dragging its heels on the issue and should just get a quick and dirty Android iView app as it has done for iOS. Well, Chinese manufacturer Huawei, which has launched several solid Android models in Australia over the past several years, has lost patience. It tells the world in a media release issued this morning:

Huawei Devices has called on the ABC to drop its anti-Android bias and get the iView app on Android smartphones ASAP. With the latest smartphone sales figures showing Android devices now make up the overwhelming majority of Australian smartphones, Huawei has said it’s time for the public broadcaster to stop playing technology favourites.

“Like many Australian Android users, I have been hearing ‘the Android iView app is coming’ for far too long,” said Huawei Corporate Affairs Director Jeremy Mitchell. “Despite the claims of the ABC, there has been no real evidence that there is any desire to fill this blatant gap. It feels like Godot will arrive before the iView app gets here on Android.”

As more and more Australians turn to mobile devices to watch online video, the ABC’s iView service remains unobtainable for Australian Android users. Huawei is one of the world’s top-5 smartphone makers, with Huawei Android smartphones now available through all major Australian carriers.

“Is the ABC the Apple Broadcast Corporation or the Anti-droid Broadcast Corporation? Looking at the evidence, they both fit so well,” Mr Mitchell said.

The ABC was granted $30 million in taxpayer funds to strengthen its online service delivery in 2013, yet the iView app has been available only for Apple since 2010 – a technological lifetime ago. The ABC itself has said that demand for its Android news app has grown by 360% over the past year, yet the broadcaster has been dragging its heels in bringing the popular iView service to Android smartphones and tablets.

“It’s disappointing that the public broadcaster has turned its back on the predominant operating system which is free, open, and not aligned to one particular company. Rather, the ABC has continued to favour one company’s product and platform,” Mr Mitchell said. “This is a public policy issue – imagine if the ABC only broadcast their TV programming to one brand of television – it’s outrageous!”

I understand that the issue with iView on Android is that the ABC is seeking to redevelop its iView platform in HTML5, which will make it much easier for it to deploy across all mobile platforms and do simultaneous upgrades. However, I think it’s clear that the broadcaster has significantly underestimated how much effort that will take, and that it should have just taken a quick punt on a basic Android app quite a while ago, given the popularity of the mobile operating system. Failing to have an app on the now-dominant mobile platform is not a good look for our national broadcaster, and I like that Huawei, as a device manufacturer, is calling the ABC on this one. It’s time.

Image credit: ABC


  1. older Android devices can use iView. it is Jellybean devices that lack the ability because Android Chrome lacks support. the older Browser had support built in

    • Yeah but isn’t that in janky flash mode via browser? Hardly compares to the speed, quality and functionality of the dedicated iOS app, and as you say its been dead since Jellybean anyway.

      I’m an iOS user, but I’m amazed that ABC hasn’t catered to Android users after all this time. I just assumed they had released one ages ago. Its one of those apps I couldn’t go without now.

      While they make an Android app – its about time they started offering a higher bandwidth stream too (if they can afford it anyway). 640×360 video just doesn’t cut it on _any_ sized screen any more.

  2. Is Huawei so desperate now that it is resorting to attacking Australian government agencies as payback for the Australian government locking it out of the nbn?

    • Hardly, I think it is a valid argument that a governement entity is effecively sponsoring Apples, a private companies, competitive advantage in the market place. Android has been around since 2007 in beta and 2008 officially (thanks wikipedia). IOS was released around 2007. There is no acceptable reason why ABC have taken so long to action this and as Huawei don’t have the choice of moving to IOS, it is perfecly legitimate for them to complain about it.

  3. If it ends up anything like the new ABC news app on android it will crash often and randomly decide it isn’t going to load any content until you completely reset the application.

  4. Apparently it’s in development according to Mark Scott on Twitter

    And yes – the #iview android app is well into development and will be with you as soon as it is ready.

    • @Martin Eddy

      Problem with that is, they’re been saying that for over 18 months….

      It’s just not really decent anymore. 6 months, sure. 12 months, at a stretch. It’s beyond a joke now.

    • Come off it 18 months for a port of an app from IOS to Android. If you were my dev team you would have been “moved on” to other projects by now!

      Wow how good is aview, would not have know about it if not for the comments above, thanks peoples!

      See ABC seems that it’s not that hard after all – why not just buy aview from the dev?? didn’t you get a chunk of money this year to improve your online offering. this would be a quick win for you and the dev!!

  5. Haha. A device manufacturer calling out a service or app developer for not migrating to their platform. I’ve never seen that. Is there form for this kind of thing?

    • Well it’s not like Apple would call it’s self out, is it :o)

      There have been plenty of other folks happy to call them out on stuff like their Map app however…

    • The point is the ABC is not just any content producer, it is government run with a mandate that it should not favour any company/political party/product.

      3 years of no Android support is pretty poor, and potentially against their own rules.

      • I wasn’t really aware of that, but it makes sense.

        Is ABC iView something that tends to make people choose between Android and iOS?

        Seems more like it’s advocacy on Android users’ behalf, which is a great thing (especially as an Android user myself), just odd.

        • I love Android as a whole, but iOS’s range of apps, and the speed at which they come out in comparison to other platforms (particularly when it comes to tablet-optimised apps and games) is one the primary reasons that has kept me on iOS. Android has got a lot better in this regard, but it still lags behind with a lot of content. And when it comes to purpose-built tablet apps (particularly ones that look good on a screen size larger than 7″) there is just no comparison.

          I’m not a typical Apple user though. I actually prefer the openness of Android, and jailbreak and heavily tweak every iDevice I own to overcome the multiple restrictions Apple places on their devices. If jailbreaking wasn’t a possibility I would switch back to Android in a heartbeat, as I can’t handle being stuck on stock iOS.

    • Yes I have been following the BBC on this a bit.

      Note that their Android team is 3 times the size of their iOS team, and they still can’t get it done with any speed.

      The issue is that video performance is the worst part of Android fragmentation. The support for video in different releases of Android, and the level of support in any of the thousands of different hardware devices makes it insanely hard to make an app with good video playback that can work on more than 30% of devices.

      I don’t envy the developers trying to make the Android version work. I’ve been working as a programmer for over 20 years, and I love a good challenge. If they offered me a job working on that, I would say no regardless of the money. I’ve done jobs where I’m fighting against the hardware and OS every step of the way and it is NOT fun, even when you finally get something that mostly works.

      If they go the quick and dirty route of only supporting devices on 4.0 or higher (where the better video support was added), and only for the better quality hardware, they could maybe get something released in 3-6 months. I am sure that if they did go that way they would get blasted as soon as it was released for not supporting enough devices.

      • Not by the tech companies though, it would be just another reason for users to upgrade hardware.

  6. The biggest problem is flash. Prior android versions (before Jelly Bean) came included with flash, beyond that, nothing.

    You can watch the iview through the default browser but it ain’t pretty.

    • Pretty sure iStuff doesn’t use flash either, in fact they hit the HTML 5 road before Android did IIRC

  7. Several people have mentioned that flash capable browsers on android can play IView. This is only true if they are on a metered fed from their iSP. For several months now those on ISP’s where IView is unmetered (like Internode and IINet) cannot watch IView on android at all. Frustratingly, use a 3G feed on the same device and IView still works!

    Ironically, a benefit that these ISP’s offerred is now a liability – and all because of flash compatibility problems.

    The ABC app got updated a day or so ago and now allows high quaility viewing of a limited set of ABC produced TV shows. Great quaility too – but makes the absence of IView on Android ever sadder!

  8. It feels like Godot will arrive before the iView app gets here on Android.

    Yeah, but look how many premises it has passed!!


  9. Problem solved – great new app on playstore called aview. Works brilliantly – try it out! I accept what Timothy says above but it is amazing what a dedicated private developer can do!

      • Agreed. Works fine. Few little bug bears here and there like it recaches if you leave the app, but otherwise, perfect playback and navigation over 3 and 4G on my HTC One.

        Come on ABC….really??

      • Yes aview does a great job – especially in comparison to other device tools (e.g. Panasonic TV is horrid), or trying to use a browser with the flash workaround (as screen layout suffers).

  10. Slightly OT, but something else that annoys me about ABC’s iOS app (and it will more than liekly be the same for Android whenever the official client launches) is that content isn’t unmetered with your ISP, as it when you view content via flash in a desktop browser (with a supporting ISP obviously). ABC says it has something to do with their “flash streaming servers” (however regardless of whether you access video via the iOS client, flash or iViewNapper, I’ve noticed the content is still ultimately streamed/downloaded as the same DRM free 640×360 H.264 video in an MP4 container, if that’s relevant).

    It’s been this way since launch of the iOS app in 2010, so you think they would have found a solution to it by now. With 150GB to play with each month it doesn’t stress me out too much, but given the gigs of iView I stream each month, it all adds up, and there must be a way of monitoring video effectively without a flash client. They’ve just had this same message under their FAQ since the app launched:

    “ABC servers are currently only able to provide unmetering via Flash streaming servers. We are hoping to resolve this limitation in future, in the meantime iview is metered for all users on non-Flash devices.”

  11. well it is an ‘i’View so its obviously for ‘i’ devices?

    anyhow, I want to know when they will make it viewable in HD for my 30 inch monitor resolution, itds pretty pathetic having the content looking like 10 year old avi 600 x 400 when youtube can give me downloadable full res quality…

    • Yeah that’s my biggest wish too, but realistically it would cost them millions to upgrade infrastructure to deal with HD streaming, and then the ongoing bandwidth costs to maintain it. Keep in mind they don’t even show any native HD over the air (ABC24 is 720p, but its all upscaled from SD) & they’d presumably need to pay more for the rights for shows in HD, which would only be viewed via internet viewers.

      I have no doubt that eventually everything will be available in HD, but we’re probably a long way off from seeing it from a public broadcaster like ABC. I’d be happy if they just upgraded to basic SD quality for starters, rather than chopping the horizontal resolution almost in half (640x360p on iView vs the 720x576i ABC1 channel via Freeview).

      • Keep in mind they don’t even show any native HD over the air (ABC24 is 720p, but its all upscaled from SD) & they’d presumably need to pay more for the rights for shows in HD, which would only be viewed via internet viewers.

        Proper 1080p needs 20Mbps to stream, so I guess they don’t really need to worry about it until one of the NBN’s is complete (or has rolled out to a fair part of te population.

        • I agree with you that high bit rates are very important to picture quality (hence the reason I still rent and ocassionly buy BluRays) but unfortunately TV industries have never agreed with that premise. Given the highest bit-rate 1080i channel we have is OneHD with an average bit-rate of 11mbps (keeping in mind its using the ancient MPEG2 standard which needs a much higher bit-rate than H.264 MPEG4 or upcoming H.265 to look any good).

          So I totally agree, given FTA broadcasters total MPGE2 spectrum is around 18mbps (which they have all milked to death, by splitting into multiple SD streams + 1 low bit-rate 1080i channel) the NBN is our only hope of seeing dedicated multicast high-bit-rate 1080p (and eventually 4K) channels over IPTV.

          Under the Libs NBN there simply isn’t enough bandwidth for quality dedicated HD channels while leaving enough bandwidth left over for the interent for every other device in the house. And there’s no way a competitive service can be delivered for the very few people that pay the extra $3000-$5000 to connect FTTP. Ubiquity is required for IPTV to be profitable, which means we really need Labor’s NBN to proceed if the above dream is to become a reality in the next decade.

          • I’m not too sure of how the LBN will handle HD video. I can get a lot of buffering pauses when trying to watch a HD movie off Bigpond, and I get 35Mbps, not sure how 25Mbps (as per Malcolm’s guarantee) would go really, though the 50Mbps version in 2019 might be able to handle it.

          • I think the most important point (and I’m sure you’re aware of this, but doesn’t hurt to reiterate) is that everything Malcolm promises is possible over 25mbps is technically true, providing there’s only 1 or 2 people/devices requiring a fast, reliable connection. The reality is that every year people add more devices to their wi-fi network requiring internet access, and a typical family household can easily have 2 or 3 people that want to access fast broadband, at the same time as the parents will want to watch a dedicated HD IPTV service.

            Keeping the above in mind – 25mbps is already sounding extremely low. Even 50mbps will be quickly outgrown. It cracks me up that until the Libs announced their alternative NBN, many of theirs supporters were saying that Labor’s network would be “obsolete before its finished” when in reality that is only the case with the LNP’s own NBN plan.

    • My Sony TV can play iView content, but the UI is not ABC’s. (It’s the same UI for all video playback). Watching it on the 40″ screen is worse than via FTA – Good Game seems to be the worst affected – but it is still watchable.

      • Yeah a ton of TVs and set top boxes have iView access now, as well as many unoffical plugins exisiting for clients like XBMC, and Plex. Plus there’s a great direct downloader called iViewNapper which I use all the time. Unfortunately its all the same low-res content, and as far as I’m aware non of it is unmetered except when acessing content via their flash website.

  12. I bought an Astone A108 as a hopeful solution to having to constantly connect my laptop to the TV for when my mrs wants to watch something on iView or SBS on Demand.

    At the time of buying it, and after waiting months on end the “it’s coming” announcement had not become an “it’s here” announcement, I returned the unit because the video performance for everything else was just pathetic.

    Fortunately, on the evidence of the consistently choppy video, Austin were prepared to swap it over for the MP310DT which is a much better player but still no iView or SBS on Demand.

    Sadly, it’s back to the laptop.

    • Get a blu-ray player. My folks finally got sick of the TV-Laptop rigmarole and grabbed a Sony blu-ray player for ~$140 which plays iView, SBS on demand, Crackle and even has a slick DLNA client for network playing.

      Apparently it even plays blu-rays /tongueincheek.

      If they can do that so well, I cannot fathom why an Android client would take so long.

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