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