The BBC has launched a version of its popular iPlayer Web service that is compatible with the iPad, alongside the official launch of the iPad in the UK.

iPlayer displays most of the television and radio content broadcasted  by the BBC for the last 7 days. Since its launch the service has proved wildly popular in the UK, driving forward the IPTV market.

The desktop version of iPlayer uses Adobe Flash technology, but due to Apple's reluctance to allow Flash on the iPhone, the BBC created an iPhone compatible version of iPlayer that uses QuickTime.

The iPad version is currently in Beta, and is dubbed 'Bigscreen' in the Title bar. It displays content in a large button format with a sideways scrolling carousel of shows (similar to the version delivered on the Sony PS3 console).

The announcement of iPlayer for iPad comes as no big surprise, as the BBC has committed to bringing the service to as many platforms as possible, but it does provide another compelling reason for British customers to invest in an iPad. The combination of the high quality display provided by the iPad, and the BBC's wide catalogue of television content for free access (supported by the license fee) should be reason enough to own an iPad.

iPlayer for iPad supports BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Three, BBC Four, CBBC, Cbebies, BBC News, BBC Parliament, and BBC Alba, plus 10 radio stations. Sadly it does not currently support the BBC HD television channel. Our understanding is that only Vodafone enables streaming over the 3G network (although we have yet to confirm this because Vodafone is currently unable to activate iPad 3G Micro SIMS). Other iPad owners will have to access iPlayer via a WiFi connection.

BBC iPlayer

The BBC also has a partnership with another Web service, called Seesaw that combines the BBC content with television shows from Channel 4 and Channel 5; this service however still requires Flash.

The iPlayer for iPad can be accessed at beta.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/bigscreen, although the more regular bbc.co.uk/iplayer URL redirects to the new site. iPlayer is only available to users with a UK-based ISP.

Editors note: iPlayer by default displays videos and the interface with the Safari browser interface showing. You can get iPlayer for iPad to play for screen by adding an iPlayer bookmark to the Home Screen. To do this, click the Plus ('+') icon and choose Add to Home Screen and click Add).