Archive for December, 2013

uPod’s trial model

Written by sven. Posted in features

No doubt: uPod is a commercial app and was always planned as such. I know that talking about licensing and pricing isn’t a popular issue. But I think transparency is always a good solution. So first things first: The uPod license will start at a price of EUR 3.29.

But besides the price the question for commercial apps is always: How to provide the users a chance to tryout the app before purchasing it. Some providers simply don’t care about and only provide the paid version — so you as the paying customer have fifteen minutes to check whether the app does what it promises and get the money back otherwise. Not much for a complex app like a podcast player, right? Other vendors work with fixed time trial periods which are better but also have their drawbacks: Bought the app, but got sick? Trial period is over :-(

That’s why I’ve chosen another approach: uPod provides you a playback contingent of four hours per calendar month. So you can try out the full functionality and are only limited in playback time. If you do not start playback, you can continue to try. When you’ve exhausted your contingent everything like the sync, the playlist arrangement, etc. continuous to work — you only cannot playback until you either purchase the license or the next month starts.

Though this is mainly meant for trying out the app before purchasing it, this monthly contingent will also be sufficient for many occasional users.

Audio playback speed control

Written by sven. Posted in features

Today is Christmas Eve and so I have a present for the power audio podcast listeners among you: Audio playback speed control. This feature allows you to control the playback speed of most audio podcasts in a range between factor 0.5 to 2.0. From the playback view you can bring up the speed control (see screenshots above) with one tap on the speed indicator and change the playback speed. By default the changed speed is applied only to the current episode, but you can choose to apply the speed to all current and future episodes of this podcast. You can change this at any time in the podcast specific settings.

Like other audio players uPod utilizes the Presto sound library to implement playback speed control, meaning you need to install a 3rd party app to make playback speed control available in uPod. In the meanwhile there are a few implementations of the Presto API available at Google play! (alphabetical order):

I have mostly tested with Prestissimo and a little bit with Stable Speed. Please let me know if I am missing an app here.

Happy listening and merry Christmas!

Audio playback in portrait orientationAudio playback speed

Video playback

Written by sven. Posted in features

Aaaand Action! Now uPod also provides support for video podcasts. It brings a carefully designed portrait and landscape video view. In landscape orientation uPod uses every single pixel of your screen to provide you the best watching experience — on devices with on screen navigation buttons (home, back, etc.) even those are hidden. If you want you can also only listen to your video podcast — simply leave the playback view or turn off the screen and the audio will continue to play.

In this context I’ve also redesigned the audio playback views to look more modern and better utilize the available screen space. I am still not happy with the views on 10″ tablets as there is a lot of free space, but I like them very much on the phone.

Here are some screenshots:
Video playback in portrait orientationVideo playback in landscape orientation
Audio playback in portrait orientationAudio playback in landscape orientation

Simple mode, subscription settings and stars

Written by sven. Posted in features

There are some features which I’ve implemented in the server a long time ago (in spring) but which haven’t made it into the uPod user interface … until today! Some of you who only have a handful of podcasts and listen to each and every episode asked for a “simple mode” where new episodes are added directly to the library and the inbox is no longer available. Well, here it is: Simply disable the “Inbox mode” in the “User Interface” settings and all new episodes will be delivered directly to your library and the inbox section will be hidden. Changing the inbox mode on one device will apply it to all of your devices.

A really powerful feature are the subscription specific settings (see first screenshot below). These allow you to edit the following settings specific for each of your subscribed podcasts:

  • Add to library: If enabled, new episodes for this podcast will be delivered directly to your library instead of your inbox (not available if you disabled the inbox mode).
  • Max kept episodes: Especially useful in conjunction with the previous setting, this one allows you to configure the maximum number of episodes of this podcast to keep in your library — older ones will automatically be deleted (unless they are starred — see below). I use this with a number of one for my daily news podcast, so that I always have the latest episode of the podcast in my library ready for listening. I am never interested in the news of yesterday, so it’s OK, that older episodes are deleted.
  • Auto download: If enabled, episodes of this podcast will be added to the download queue as soon as they are added to the library. This option is disabled if you already configured uPod to automatically add all library episodes to your download queue.

As everything else in uPod these settings are stored in the cloud and will affect all of your devices.

As the “Max kept episodes” setting mentioned above will automatically delete episodes from your library you need a way to tell uPod to keep interesting episodes. This is where the new starring feature comes onto the scene (see second screenshot below): Starred episodes will never be automatically deleted by uPod. So starring is a simple and great way for collecting interesting stuff and — guess what — the starring state is synced across all of your devices.
Subscription settingsStarred episode