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

Further configuration options for playback

Written by sven. Posted in features

Playback notification

Differ­ent peo­ple have dif­fer­ent pref­er­ences. That’s why I have added two con­fig­u­ra­tion options to uPod:

  1. On Android Jel­ly Bean and above you can now con­fig­ure which action but­tons you want to see in the play­back noti­fi­ca­tion. The default is »stop, play/pause, skip« and addi­tion­al options are »stop, play/pause, fast for­ward« and »rewind, play/pause, fast for­ward« (see screen­shot). You can find the relat­ed option in the play­back set­tings.
  2. Fur­ther on you can now con­fig­ure which num­bers to dis­play for the play­back progress. By default the cur­rent posi­tion and the dura­tion are shown but you can choose to dis­play the remain­ing time and the dura­tion or the cur­rent posi­tion and the remain­ing time. You can find the relat­ed option in the user inter­face set­tings or you sim­ply tap the posi­tion and/or dura­tion in the play­back view to tog­gle.

That’s it for this week. Stay tuned!

Painless syncing

Written by sven. Posted in features

How many apps do you know were you need to con­fig­ure a sync inter­val or man­u­al­ly start a sync. I know a lot of them — among them are all news read­ers and pod­cast play­ers I’ve used in the past. What’s the prob­lem with this approach? Well, there sim­ply isn’t a right val­ue for the sync inter­val! If you set the inter­val to short you will have more up-to-date data but on the oth­er hand you will drain your bat­tery and waste unnec­es­sary net­work traf­fic. If you set the inter­val too high you will save bat­tery and net­work traf­fic but your data will be out-dat­ed.

Now ask your­self: Have you ever cared about sync­ing in Google Mail or Cal­en­dar? I haven’t but my date is always up-to-date to the minute. The good news is: uPod uti­lizes the google way for sync­ing, mean­ing your data will always be updat­ed imme­di­ate­ly when some­thing changed and no bat­tery or net­work traf­fic is wast­ed. Well, regard­ing new episodes you should know that the uPod serv­er can­not rec­og­nize them imme­di­ate­ly as RSS and Atom do not pro­vide a mech­a­nism for this — uPod scans all feeds it knows in a fixed inter­val mul­ti­ple times an hour, but then it imme­di­ate­ly push­es the changes to your devices.

How does this work? The apps were you need to con­fig­ure the sync inter­val »poll« the serv­er for changes: When­ev­er the con­fig­ured inter­val elapsed the app con­tacts the serv­er to ask for changes. uPod works the oth­er way round: The /server/ informs your devices when there is new infor­ma­tion avail­able. So if there are no new episodes avail­able for you the whole day, then the uPod app wont con­tact the serv­er a sin­gle time. In the oth­er case if there are new episodes every 30 min­utes, then your device will fetch them. This mech­a­nism is most­ly impres­sive if you are using two (or more) devices: Make a change (e.g. add an episode to the library, change the play­back posi­tion) on your tablet and 30 sec­onds lat­er your phone will reflect the lat­est changes.

Listening the first episode

Written by sven. Posted in features

Today I have break­ing news for you: A few min­utes ago I’ve unin­stalled Pock­et Casts! The rea­son for this is that the audio play­back in uPod is ful­ly work­ing and so final­ly uPod has all the fea­tures I expect from an audio pod­cast play­er and a much bet­ter usabil­i­ty than all of the play­ers I know.

These are the play­back relat­ed fea­tures avail­able today:

  • A clean audio play­back view with large play­back con­trols care­ful­ly opti­mized for por­trait and land­scape view and dif­fer­ent screen sizes
  • Play­back con­trol using your wired or blue­tooth head­sets. Depend­ing on the avail­able con­trols on your head­set the fol­low­ing actions are avail­able: play, pause, rewind, fast for­ward, back (play cur­rent episode from begin­ning), skip (mark cur­rent episode as lis­tened and play next episode on playlist) and stop
  • Name of play­ing episode on your blue­tooth headset’s dis­play
  • Play­back con­trols on android lock screen
  • Play­back con­trols and progress in noti­fi­ca­tion (on Jel­ly Bean and above)
  • Play­back bar in every uPod view opti­mized for dif­fer­ent screen sizes (phone vs. tablet)
  • Playlist sortable via drag and drop
  • Play­ing down­loaded episodes or stream­ing episodes
  • Actions on each episode to stream, play, play next (adds to sec­ond posi­tion on playlist) or add to end of playlist

That’s a huge step towards a beta release. But before I need to smooth the rough edges. So enjoy the screen­shots and stay tuned…
PlaybackPlayback in landscape
Playback notificationLockscreen playback
PlaylistPlaylist on tablet