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