Archive for October, 2013

First Beta Version available

Written by sven. Posted in releases

For all of you who are impatiently waiting to try out uPod and who are willing to take a risk, I have good news: The first beta version of uPod is available right now. Before I tell you how to get it, here’s the obligatory disclaimer:

  • The available version is the first one used by someone else but me. So you should expect it to be slow as hell, crash in every possible situation and destroy your data.
  • This first beta version is available for free, but uPod is a commercial app and so a paid license will be necessary in the near future, so please don’t be surprised.
  • If uPod crashes on your device, please send a crash report.
  • If you encounter bugs, please report them using the support site.
  • If you would like to see a special feature please report it/vote for it using the support site.
  • I develop uPod in my free time, so please don’t expect an immediate response to your problems.

Here are the features available in this first beta version:

  • audio podcast playback
  • automatic, resumable downloads
  • drag-and-drop playlist
  • coverart centric user interface
  • sync of subscriptions, playlist and playback positions between all devices
  • effective inbox workflow for assorting new episodes
  • support for bluetooth headsets and headset controls
  • managing podcast subscriptions
  • import of subscription lists from OPML files
  • responsive layout (looking nice on phone and tablet in portrait and landscape mode)
  • holo design

Here is what’s missing but planned for the (far) future:

  • video playback
  • variable audio playback speed
  • discover new podcasts
  • OPML export
  • dark theme
  • widget

If you are still interested then follow these instructions to access the beta version:

  1. become a member of the uPod Beta Testers Community at Google+
  2. accept the community’s rules
  3. follow uPod’s Google play! link provided in the community to install the beta version
  4. Have fun!

Painless syncing

Written by sven. Posted in features

How many apps do you know were you need to configure a sync interval or manually start a sync. I know a lot of them — among them are all news readers and podcast players I’ve used in the past. What’s the problem with this approach? Well, there simply isn’t a right value for the sync interval! If you set the interval to short you will have more up-to-date data but on the other hand you will drain your battery and waste unnecessary network traffic. If you set the interval too high you will save battery and network traffic but your data will be out-dated.

Now ask yourself: Have you ever cared about syncing in Google Mail or Calendar? I haven’t but my date is always up-to-date to the minute. The good news is: uPod utilizes the google way for syncing, meaning your data will always be updated immediately when something changed and no battery or network traffic is wasted. Well, regarding new episodes you should know that the uPod server cannot recognize them immediately as RSS and Atom do not provide a mechanism for this — uPod scans all feeds it knows in a fixed interval multiple times an hour, but then it immediately pushes the changes to your devices.

How does this work? The apps were you need to configure the sync interval “poll” the server for changes: Whenever the configured interval elapsed the app contacts the server to ask for changes. uPod works the other way round: The /server/ informs your devices when there is new information available. So if there are no new episodes available for you the whole day, then the uPod app wont contact the server a single time. In the other case if there are new episodes every 30 minutes, then your device will fetch them. This mechanism is mostly impressive if you are using two (or more) devices: Make a change (e.g. add an episode to the library, change the playback position) on your tablet and 30 seconds later your phone will reflect the latest changes.

Listening the first episode

Written by sven. Posted in features

Today I have breaking news for you: A few minutes ago I’ve uninstalled Pocket Casts! The reason for this is that the audio playback in uPod is fully working and so finally uPod has all the features I expect from an audio podcast player and a much better usability than all of the players I know.

These are the playback related features available today:

  • A clean audio playback view with large playback controls carefully optimized for portrait and landscape view and different screen sizes
  • Playback control using your wired or bluetooth headsets. Depending on the available controls on your headset the following actions are available: play, pause, rewind, fast forward, back (play current episode from beginning), skip (mark current episode as listened and play next episode on playlist) and stop
  • Name of playing episode on your bluetooth headset’s display
  • Playback controls on android lock screen
  • Playback controls and progress in notification (on Jelly Bean and above)
  • Playback bar in every uPod view optimized for different screen sizes (phone vs. tablet)
  • Playlist sortable via drag and drop
  • Playing downloaded episodes or streaming episodes
  • Actions on each episode to stream, play, play next (adds to second position on playlist) or add to end of playlist

That’s a huge step towards a beta release. But before I need to smooth the rough edges. So enjoy the screenshots and stay tuned…
PlaybackPlayback in landscape
Playback notificationLockscreen playback
PlaylistPlaylist on tablet