The BBC has finally launched an iPlayer app for the iPhone and iPod touch.

The app, which is available free to download from the iTunes app store now, is compatible with an iPhone 3GS or later or an iPod touch running iOS 4.3 or above. It allows users to catch-up on TV and radio shows already broadcast on the BBC as well as watch and listen live. Radio listeners will be able to ensure the app runs in the background, so they can complete other tasks at the same time.

"We want to make it a better and easier experience to catch up on your favourite programmes wherever you are," said David Madden, executive product manager in a blog.

The app features a 'live channel switcher' that makes it easy to flick between channels or simply tap the 'Live Channels' button while you're watching to see a list of what else is being broadcast on the other channels. Furthermore, those with devices running iOS 5 or above will be able to connect the iPhone or iPod to a TV to watch a show thanks to Apple AirPlay.

The app also allows users to stream programmes over 3G connections as well as Wi-Fi.

"We have worked closely with the network operators to introduce 3G streaming and create a great mobile experience so you can watch your favourite TV programme wherever you are or listen to the radio when you are out and about," Madden added.

Furthermore, the BBC said 3G streaming would "shortly" be rolled out to the mobile web version of BBC iPlayer on all its supported devices, which include certain Nokia, BlackBerry and Sony Ericsson handsets as well as those running Google's Android. However, those awaiting a dedicated Android app will have to wait a while before the software is made available.

"We have also been working on the BBC iPlayer Android app. We have got a bit more work to do to improve the video playback experience and add 3G streaming and we will be releasing an update to the BBC iPlayer Android app in the new year. For the time being the Android app will carry on working with Wi-Fi connection only."

The BBC said in October this year, 16.5 million programmes were watched on mobile devices and tablets, which is a 129 percent increase on the same period in 2010.