Archive for February, 2016

uPod 5.0: A new Chapter in Playback

Written by sven. Posted in features, releases

Man what a head­line! I should have become a mar­ket­ing guy! But now back to my unglamarous devel­op­er live: I am real­ly proud to present chap­ter sup­port in uPod! Espe­cial­ly in the Ger­man pod­cast scene chap­ter marks are a wide­ly used fea­ture. They pro­vide you the pos­si­bil­i­ty to skip chap­ters not rel­e­vant to you or to relis­ten spe­cif­ic top­cis lat­er. Fur­ther on they may pro­vide furhter infor­ma­tion like images or web links. uPod 5 imple­ments all of these fea­tures.

So con­tact the pub­lish­ers of your favorite pod­casts and con­vince them to include chap­ter marks in the future. I already use them in my pod­casts and it is real­ly quite easy if you set the chap­ter marks imme­di­ate­ly dur­ing record­ing. The only thing the pub­lish­er has to do then is to name the chap­ters in the post pro­duc­tion and to embed them in the final media files which is easy with Auphon­ic. (And using Auphon­ic is any­way a good idea as it nor­mal­izes the lev­els of all record­ing tracks. Would all pub­lish­ers use it, I could remove the gain but­ton in uPod…). The auphon­ic blog con­tains a help­ful post regard­ing chap­ter marks for pro­duc­ers.

How do Chapters work?

uPod sup­ports chap­ter marks in MP3 and M4A/AAC/MP4 files. This is some­thing I am espe­cial­ly proud of: As there are no ready to use Java libraries avail­able to extract chap­ter infor­ma­tion from these files (except things like FFMPEG or MP4Box which would blow up the APK’s size to more than 50MBs) I’ve imple­ment­ed my own parsers. This was easy for MP3 but a bit more tricky for M4A. I hope I’ll find the time to upload the stuff to GitHub some day.

As the chap­ter infor­ma­tion is extract­ed from the media file, the file needs to be down­loaded to make chap­ter infor­ma­tion avail­able. Then you can access it in two places:

  1. The epsiode details screen (the one you get when you tap an episode in a list of episodes)
  2. The play­back screen

In the episode details screen the chap­ter list is for infor­ma­tion­al pur­pose only. More inter­est­ing is the play­back screen: Here you get a chap­ter bar at the bot­tom. It con­tains infor­ma­tion about the chap­ter at the cur­rent play­back posi­tion includ­ing

  • the title,
  • a pos­si­ble link (tap it to open it in the brows­er) and
  • the play­back posi­tion with­in the chap­ter itself.

Fur­ther on it pro­vides but­tons to jump to the next chap­ter or to the begin­ning of the chap­ter or the pre­vi­ous chap­ter (when pressed with­in the first three sec­onds of the chap­ter).

Addi­tion­al­ly, if the chap­ter has a chap­ter image, it will be shown in the play­back area.

You can drag up the bar to unveil the full chap­ter list. For each chap­ter you get its start posi­tion, title, image and/or link indi­ca­tor and dura­tion. Here you can:
  • tap a chap­ter to direct­ly jump to it while paused or play­ing
  • tap an image or link indi­ca­tor to open the image or link

Headset Controls

If your head­set pro­vides but­tons to skip and go back, then you can use these to nav­i­gate bete­ween chap­ters: If the episode con­tains chap­ters you will nav­i­gate between them. Oth­er­wise the con­trols behave like before and will skip the full episode. This fea­tures is enabled by default in uPod. You can dis­able it in the play­back set­tings.

Who will get it?

Access­ing infor­ma­tion for the chap­ter cur­rent­ly play­ing includ­ing image and link is avail­able to all users. Access­ing the full chap­ter list and nav­i­gat­ing between chap­ters is avail­able to users of the pre­mi­um ver­sion only.

This is my com­pro­mise to help broad­en the usage of chap­ters on the one hand and to mak­ing the pre­mi­um ver­sion more inter­est­ing on the oth­er hand.

Full change log

Here is the full change log of uPod 5:

  • Chap­ter sup­port as described above
  • More intel­li­gent col­or extrac­tion from pod­cast cov­er­arts (now also the accent col­or may be extract­ed from the cov­er­art if there is a vibrant col­or with enough con­trast to the back­ground)
  • Fling scrolling is final­ly pos­si­ble in the episode details now
  • Playlist but­ton in play­back view
  • Replaced the mate­r­i­al share icon with the old, but bet­ter known one
  • Fixed dou­ble dia­log bor­der on pre-Android 5 devices
  • Sev­er­al bug fix­es