Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

BBC iPlayer & Adobe AIR 2.5 incompatible

Screenshot of BBC iPlayer Desktop on Mac Although I have a handful of apps that use Adobe AIR, the one that I use the most is BBC iPlayer Desktop, for downloading BBC programmes to watch at a later date. Unfortunately, the latest update to Adobe AIR – version 2.5 – completely breaks iPlayer’s ability to play back video, thus rendering the app useless. If, after updating, you try to play back a video, you get an error, and then iPlayer deletes the download.

To get iPlayer working again, you need to firstly downgrade Adobe AIR to version 2.4, the last known working version. Thankfully AIR comes with an uninstaller on both Mac and Windows and the BBC has provided a quick guide, including download links for version 2.4. Once installed, you’ll need to dismiss any offers from AIR to update itself to version 2.5 for the time being.

Sadly this won’t bring back any programmes that iPlayer deleted for you, if you installed the update and tried to play back anything. If the show was broadcast or repeated within the past seven days, you’ll be able to download it again, and some series may be available on Series Catch-up. If not, then you’ll have to resort to restoring files from your backups, because you do backup your computer, don’t you?

On a Mac, your iPlayer downloaded programmes are saved under /Users/[your username]/Movies/BBC iPlayer/repository – I don’t know about Windows but I presume they’ll be under My Videos in My Documents. You’ll therefore need to restore this folder to a time before you updated AIR. On my Mac I encountered some issues with Time Machine, which told me I didn’t have permission to copy the files; I got around this by manually copying the files and folders from the backup volume instead.

So what now? We’ll have to wait for either Adobe to fix the problems in AIR, or for the BBC (and its partners) to update iPlayer to be compatible with AIR 2.5. I’m not sure where the problem lies, but Adobe is still offering version 2.5 for download. It’s very annoying that this update to AIR has broken the one AIR app that I use regularly.

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