Author Archive

Playback Speed and Gain Control

Written by sven. Posted in releases

I have good and bad news. Bad news first: All uPod users who are on Android 4.0.x (ICS) will no longer be able to use play­back speed con­trol for audio episodes as uPod no longer sup­ports 3rd par­ty apps for play­back con­trol. The good news: All users on Android 4.1 (Jelly­Bean) and above ben­e­fit from the new inte­grat­ed play­back speed con­trol!

Yes, you no longer need to install an insta­ble, bat­tery suck­ing 3rd par­ty app to con­trol the play­back speed of your audio pod­casts. uPod has it inte­grat­ed now (includ­ing insta­bil­i­ty and bat­tery suck­ing). Because it’s a new fea­ture I’ve marked it as exper­i­men­tal and dis­abled it by default. To use it you need to switch from the default »Android Play­er« in uPod’s play­back set­tings to the exper­i­men­tal new »Son­ic Play­er«.

As a bonus the new Son­ic play­er brings anoth­er fea­ture which — for me — is even more use­ful than speed con­trol: Vol­ume gain. Do you also know the sit­u­a­tion where you try to lis­ten to an episode with low record­ing lev­els in a noisy envi­ron­ment and though you’ve set the vol­ume to the max­i­mum the stuff isn’t loud enough? Con­sid­er this solved! The new inte­grat­ed vol­ume gain con­trol increas­es the lev­el of the audio file (the max­i­mum ampli­tude) and can make play­back way loud­er! Nat­u­ral­ly this fea­ture has it’s lim­its: If you try too high gains you will get sound arti­facts. Sim­ply try it out — it’s awe­some!

The price con­scious users among you might be hap­py to hear that both fea­tures are avail­able in the free ver­sion!

Here is the full list of changes for uPod 4.1:

  • Inte­grat­ed audio speed con­trol
  • Inte­grat­ed vol­ume gain con­trol
  • New option to auto­mat­i­cal­ly down­load »New episodes and episodes saved for lat­er«
  • Episodes added auto­mat­i­cal­ly to the playlist can keep their »New« state now
  • Tons of bug fix­es (many thanks to Peter Hard­man who helped me to fixed two extreme­ly hairy ones)

Playback speed controlVolume gain

Google Cast for audio

Written by sven. Posted in features

Google Cast for Audio

In Jan­u­ary Google announced Google Cast for audio. Togeth­er with uPod this audio spe­cif­ic ver­sion of Google Cast, which is also the tech­nol­o­gy behind Chrome­cast, lets you cast your favorite pod­casts from your mobile device to your speak­ers. Take a peek at the Google Cast for audio home­page to learn about devices sup­port­ing this new tech­nol­o­gy.

For all Sonos users like me I hope, that Sonos will also soon sup­port Google Cast for audio, so that I can hear my pod­casts eas­i­ly at home with­out need­ing to buy new equip­ment.

uPod 4 — A lot has changed

Written by sven. Posted in releases

Colors
Version 4 turns uPod upside down. It’s main change is the move from a serv­er based syn­chro­niza­tion to a local one. In the past the uPod serv­er was respon­si­ble for rec­og­niz­ing new episodes and trig­ger­ing all devices to sync. Star­ing with uPod 4 the devices do the sync on their own.

What does this mean for you as a user? Well, most of you even wont rec­og­nize it. On the down­side there is the fact that your device is now polling for pod­cast changes — be sure to adjust the new sync set­tings (fre­quen­cy, con­crete times of the day) to your needs. On the upside there are quite a few points:

  • Full con­trol when to sync — sim­ply swipe down in most views to start a sync.
  • Pod­cast spe­cif­ic sync — swipe down in a sin­gle podcast’s episode list to only check for updates of this pod­cast.
  • All meta data for all episodes of your pod­casts are now avail­able on your device. No more nasty load­ing from the serv­er when scrolling through large episode lists.
  • Pod­casts with sync errors are marked now as erro­neous and pro­vide tech­ni­cal error infor­ma­tion.

As a result the uPod serv­er is no longer involved in the sync­ing process (except for cross device syn­chro­niza­tion — see below) and a run­ning uPod instance does no longer cause me any costs. That’s why I am now able to pro­vide a free ver­sion of uPod and that’s exact­ly what I do: What was just a tri­al before is now a full fea­tured, free pod­cast play­er!

For the pow­er users a pre­mi­um license is avail­able which pro­vides some more enhanced fea­tures like:

  • Cross device sync of play­back posi­tions, playlist and episode states tied to your Google account
  • Chrome­cast sup­port
  • Auto­mat­ic down­load of the down­load queue (e.g. when con­nect­ed via Wi-FI)
  • Pod­cast spe­cif­ic set­tings (e.g. auto add to playlist, only keep x lat­est episodes)
  • Up to two spe­cif­ic sync times per day

Of course all of you who’ve bought uPod in the past will auto­mat­i­cal­ly be upgrad­ed to uPod Pre­mi­um.

Anoth­er impor­tant change made is the way uPod han­dles episodes: Now you no longer _delete_ episodes you don’t need any­more, instead you mark them as _finished_. uPod tracks the state for all episode, so that you now have a bet­ter overview of what you’ve already con­sumed.

Enough now. Here’s the full list of changes in uPod 4:

  • Full fea­tured free ver­sion (no longer only a tri­al)
  • Pre­mi­um ver­sion with addi­tion­al fea­tures (for all who’ve already paid)
  • Sync log­ic moved from serv­er to device
  • Pull to sync in most views
  • Pull in podcast’s episode view to update cur­rent pod­cast only
  • Mate­r­i­al design for play­back view (thanks to Marc Große for his sug­ges­tions and feed­back)
  • Mark episodes as fin­ished instead of delet­ing them
  • New »Mark all as fin­ished from here« action
  • Action to move single/multiple episodes to top/bottom of playlist
  • Imme­di­ate OPML import
  • Intro­duc­tion cards instead of start­up wiz­ard
  • Fixed can­cel­la­tion of down­loads
  • Con­fig­urable space lim­it on the stor­age to be kept free

The Future of uPod is safe!

Written by sven. Posted in announcement

By the end of Jan­u­ary I’ve post­ed an announce­ment that uPod is about to become open source. As the res­o­nance was very restrained it quick­ly became clear, that ful­fill­ing that plan would effec­tive­ly kill uPod, as there would be no devel­op­ers to main­tain and fur­ther devel­op it. But as some of you and I myself still love uPod killing it wasn’t real­ly an option. That’s the rea­son why I decid­ed to go on devel­op­ing uPod — even if my free time is rare. Sor­ry for all the con­fu­sion.

Since the begin­ning of Feb­ru­ary I am now work­ing on uPod 4. Its main goal is to reduce the serv­er costs, so that it is no more essen­tial for me to sell a spe­cif­ic num­ber of licens­es per month just to get the servers paid. This is solved by mov­ing most of the pod­cast pars­ing and sync­ing log­ic from the serv­er into the client.

Mak­ing the serv­er usage an option­al fea­ture will make it pos­si­ble to pub­lish uPod 4 as a »freemi­um« app: The free ver­sion will no longer be a tri­al but a full fea­tured free pod­cast play­er! The paid pre­mi­um license will add some enhanced fea­tures like e.g. the cur­rent cross device sync, chrome­cast sup­port and the auto­mat­ic down­load. Your cur­rent uPod license will be auto­mat­i­cal­ly migrat­ed to uPod pre­mi­um — so if you’ve already paid for it you wont be charged again. Mak­ing uPod free should also help to increase its vis­i­bil­i­ty.

I hope you like these news. More infor­ma­tion will be pub­lished as soon as uPod 4 goes into beta test.

uPod is going Open Source

Written by sven. Posted in announcement

Today I have excit­ing news — bad ones and good ones. I am more the let-me-know-the-shit-at-first-guy, so lets start with the bad news: I no longer have the time to main­tain and sup­port uPod. The num­ber of sup­port requests and ques­tions I receive per day and the num­ber of pod­casts which cause trou­ble are too large to process and fix them on my own. Or to say it in anoth­er way: I need more time off. Sounds like the end of uPod, right? But it may turn out to the exact oppo­site, because here are the good news: uPod will become open source!

OK, what exact­ly does this mean? If we (as a com­mu­ni­ty) find some peo­ple who are will­ing to invest a lit­tle bit of their time, uPod has the chance to become the major pod­cast play­er for the Android plat­form. This is sim­ply because it already has all of the fea­tures a full-fledged pod­cast play­er needs and one of the best and most beau­ti­ful user inter­faces avail­able on Android. This is con­junc­tion with a free of charge avail­abil­i­ty may roll up the pod­cast play­er mar­ket for Android where most of the more use­ful apps are cur­rent­ly payed.

What do we (as a com­mu­ni­ty) need for this? Well, there are a few roles which need to be cast­ed:

  • Devel­op­ers who are will­ing to fix and enhance the uPod app (keep in mind that it is writ­ten in Scala)
  • Devel­op­ers who are will­ing to fix and enhance the uPod serv­er (REST ser­vice writ­ten in Scala based on Play 2 [#playframe­work])
  • Sup­port peo­ple who han­dle sup­port requests post­ed by users
  • Authors who cre­ate and main­tain an online doc­u­men­ta­tion
  • Pub­lic rela­tions peo­ple who com­mu­ni­cate the lat­est changes and ensure that uPod is vis­i­ble at Google play!
  • And Spon­sors! Spon­sors! Spon­sors! That’s sim­ply because uPod is a serv­er based appli­ca­tion and some­one has to pay the serv­er bills!

That’s what has come to my mind for now, but I am sure I’ve missed some­thing. So if you are inter­est­ed to par­tic­i­pate or know some­one who is, please let me know (sven at upod.mobi).

What’s next? Most impor­tant I need peo­ple who are will­ing to par­tic­i­pate as men­tioned above. I plan to release the source codes in Feb­ru­ary in my already cre­at­ed repos­i­to­ry at GitHub. In par­al­lel I will con­tact some of the ser­vices uPod is cur­rent­ly using (e.g. heroku, Super­fee­dr, user­voice) to clar­i­fy whether one ore more of them are will­ing to sup­port us by pro­vid­ing their ser­vice for free or at a reduced cost.

Let me know what you think about this and share this infor­ma­tion with all your friends and lets make uPod the best pod­cast play­er for Android!

Lollipod

Written by sven. Posted in features

Lollipod

Today I am real­ly proud to present you the new uPod design. I’ve ful­ly con­vert­ed the user inter­face to Lollipop’s mate­r­i­al design. This includes new icons all over the place, vibrant col­ors, float­ing action but­tons, par­al­lax scrolling, adjust­ed typog­ra­phy, adjust­ed nav­i­ga­tion and a lot more. In con­junc­tion with the pod­cast col­or extrac­tion men­tioned before this brings the use expe­ri­ence to a new lev­el. And all of the non-Lol­lipop users among you might be hap­py to hear, that the new design is also avail­able on Android 4.x. It’s real­ly sur­pris­ing how old fash­ioned uPod’s pre­vi­ous holo design looks once you’ve got used to the new one.

Exclu­sive to Lol­lipop are the new play­back noti­fi­ca­tions which not only apply the pod­cast col­ors but also pro­vide the jump back/forward and pause/play actions even when col­lapsed. In expand­ed mode (swipe down on a col­lapsed noti­fi­ca­tion to expand it) it pro­vides all five avail­able play­back actions.

As always images are worth more than a thou­sand words. So enjoy the fol­low­ing screen­shots or sim­ply go ahead and update to the lat­est ver­sion at Google play to see it live on your device.

And please don’t for­get to rate uPod if you like the new design.

Navigation Drawer Podcast List
Play List Podcast Details Playback Notification Playback Notification Show Notes

Android Lollipop

Written by sven. Posted in features

Now it’s offi­cial: Yes­ter­day Google unveiled that »Android L« becomes »Android Lol­lipop« aka »Android 5«. I am already look­ing for­ward to it arriv­ing on my Nexus 5 and (hope­ful­ly) Nexus 10. Prob­a­bly the biggest visu­al change of Lol­lipop is the new mate­r­i­al design which looks real­ly awe­some.

As most of you know I am already work­ing on mate­r­i­al design sup­port in uPod and I am con­fi­dent to release it until the end of this year. Most of the design changes will also be avail­able on Android 4.x — but this’ll depend on Google’s com­pat­i­bil­i­ty sup­port. I will know more about this tomor­row when Google releas­es the new soft­ward devel­op­ment kit (SDK).

Stay tuned!

Sync Issues solved

Written by sven. Posted in issues

You may have noticed that dur­ing the last to days you haven’t received any new episodes and that the cross device sync wasn’t work­ing. This was due to an issue with the Google authen­ti­ca­tion on uPod’s serv­er side. In the mean­while I’ve solved this prob­lem sim­ply by updat­ing a Google library. So from now on you should receive new episode noti­fi­ca­tions again. If you are miss­ing some episodes sim­ply per­form a man­u­al sync once.

Fur­ther on those of you who have a lot of pod­cast sub­scrip­tions may have noticed that uPod has become much more sta­ble regard­ing the recog­ni­tion of new episodes. Until this sum­mer uPod missed a lot of pod­cast updates, but now it gets all of them reli­able. Thanks to all of you who point­ed me into the right direc­tion and helped me to solve these issues.

Podcast Colors

Written by sven. Posted in features

Podcast Colors

Since Google announced mate­r­i­al design on Google IO 2014 which — as the suc­ces­sor of the Holo design — will be the new default style on Android L, I am work­ing on mov­ing uPod towards this great new design lan­guage. One aspect of the new design are vibrant col­ors. One impor­tant step to employ mate­r­i­al design in uPod has now been tak­en: uPod extracts a key col­or for a pod­cast from it’s cov­er­art and applies this col­or in the user inter­face where ever it is use­ful. This doesn’t only look stun­ning as you can see from the screen­shot above, but it also helps you to quick­ly gath­er the pod­cast con­text you’re in. The screen­shot above shows you only one usage of the pod­cast col­ors, but you will find them in dif­fer­ent places in the user inter­face once the new ver­sion is released.

For pod­casts which do not bring a cov­er­art, uPod gen­er­ates a unique one which is con­stant across all devices and con­sists of a vibrant col­or and the most impor­tant char­ac­ters from the podcast’s title. This makes it much more eas­i­er to quick­ly rec­og­nize pod­casts in con­trast to the sim­ple grey place­hold­er image used today in uPod.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly you still need to be a lit­tle bit patient before you can see this great new fea­ture on your device, but I will keep you updat­ed of the progress of uPod’s adap­tion of mate­r­i­al design.

uPod 2.2

Written by sven. Posted in releases

I’ve had one week of vaca­tion which was a great chance to imple­ment some fea­tures I want­ed to have in uPod already since some time and here are the results! One of the big­ger changes is the pos­si­bil­i­ty to sort a podcast’s episodes start­ing with the old­est. This is espe­cial­ly use­ful if you dis­cov­ered a new pod­cast and want to lis­ten to it start­ing from the begin­ning.

Anoth­er impor­tant fea­ture for pod­casts which do not deliv­er the full show notes in their RSS is the new »Open in brows­er« but­ton below an episode’s show notes: It open’s the episode’s link in your system’s brows­er. If your pod­cast pub­lish­er has done his job well, this will bring you to the full show notes of the episode. Notice that not all pod­cast providers put a link ele­ment into their RSS, so you will not see this but­ton for all episodes.

If you are using mul­ti­ple pod­cast play­ers, you might like the new OPML export. This fea­ture allows you to export your uPod pod­cast sub­scrip­tions in the stan­dard OPML for­mat which is under­stood by most feed read­ers and pod­cast play­ers.

A tiny change makes the »Play next« action more use­ful: It still adds the affect­ed episode to the sec­ond posi­tion of the playlist when cur­rent­ly a play­back is run­ning or paused, but if no play­back is active it adds the episode to the top of the playlist which might be your inten­tion in this case.

A new option to skip not down­loaded episodes on the playlist avoids you from get­ting ruined as uPod will no longer auto­mat­i­cal­ly start to stream when you are on a mobile net­work. And final­ly the new action to delete a whole pod­cast includ­ing all of it’s episodes makes it eas­i­er for you to get rid of pod­casts you don’t like any more with­out need­ing to delete all of it’s episodes man­u­al­ly.

Here’s the full change log:

  • episode details view: but­ton to open episode’s link in brows­er
  • option to sort episodes old­est to newest in a podcast’s episode list
  • »Play next« action now adds episode to start of playlist when idle
  • action to delete a pod­cast and all it’s episodes from the library
  • OPML export
  • skip not down­loaded episodes on playlist by default
  • dis­missed Pol­ish and Rus­sion trans­la­tions
  • lots of bug fix­es