BringCast 4 update

V4 is Out! Back in January we released the official version 4 release of BringCast after a marathon development process.  This was certainly a huge milestone for us as the porting journey ended with the codebase running as a Universal Windows Application on desktop and mobile Windows devices.  Thanks to all our loyal users and supporters who have stuck with us over the years.

On a related note, the “UWP beta” version of the app has been taken down from the store.. New policy does not allow apps with Beta as part of the name, hence all our current and future versions will go out from the official BringCast app that you can find at this link: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/store/p/bringcast/9nblggh093x1

Patch: Today we’re releasing the first patch for V4 including the following fixes / additions [in the final stage of certification / release at the time of writing]:

  • Fix an issue with telemetry reporting
  • Fix a race condition that could occur on application startup when downloads complete exactly at the same time as new downloads start
  • Fix an issue causing skins to not apply correctly on some machines
  • Pro feature: Ability to turn on experimental animation features for Pro subscribers
  • Experimental feature to enable clearing the current item from the player
  • Ability to disable the lighting effect when buffering playback for a new track.. This fixes an issue that can cause some mobile devices to reboot
  • New 1 week long Pro subscription

New Licensing Model: One of the changes we’ve made in V4 of the app is our approach to licensing.  There were really two main goals for this change: 1) have a fully free version of the app with no adverts and a decent entry level feature set 2) move our paid offering to a subscription model.  It is simply not economical to ship an app for a one-off payment of a dollar or two these days.  Hence we’re hoping that users that value the more advanced features are willing to invest in us and in future versions.  And for those that aren’t, we hope that the free offering will be good enough.  This is certainly something of an experiment and we’ll see how it goes.  Users who are willing to support us and invest in a Pro subscription will get all the latest features automatically before they become part of the main product.  We’re also hoping that the level of income that Pro generates is sufficient to support a cloud sync service.  Time will tell.

Next: We’re already working on new features that will be coming out in stages over the next few months.  We are looking closely at some of the new capabilities in the Windows 10 Creator’s update and will be incorporating some of those in due course.  We definitely don’t want to do any more “big bang” releases; instead we’ll introduce features more incrementally and therefore more rapidly.  We’ll also test out features via the experimental channel which is available to Pro subscribers.  As ever, let us know what you’d like us to work on and we’ll see what we can do 🙂

Thanks: Again, thanks to all who have stuck with us and continue to use the product.  You inspire us to keep going!  If you really want to help out, please do rate us in the store: it really does help us out.

thx y’all, you totally ROCK!

Love James and Mark

New BringCast 4 UWP public beta build: 4.0.225

We got to the bottom of the pending issue.. you will need to temporarily disable backup of BringCast under settings->Backup->More options.  We have developed a fix for this but it will only be deployed when we cut over to the production release app at RTM.  Use the above workaround in the meantime.  Other than that, this build is pretty much fixes only.

  • Fix: Playlist episode rollover when app is in the background causes now playing hero image to be incorrect
  • Fix: resizing window width doesn’t move thumb on scrubber
  • Fix: the text that share generates
  • Video playback doesn’t occur correctly when expected when rolling over in a mixed audio / video playlist
  • Update Icons in the drawer
  • Fix: username / password field width in settings
  • Fix: pending issue (note: fix is currently turned off until we cut over to the production Store app, disable backup of BringCast as a workaround)
  • Fix: the missing icon after reordering playlist
  • Fix: exceptions generated after multiple reorder operations
  • Fix: logic for unbinding items when scrolling
  • Fix: no placeholders when no network

Can’t launch BringCast 4 UWP beta because of “Pending” Issue

If you are testing the BringCast 4 UWP Beta build on Windows Phone Anniversary Update and are hitting an issue where the app goes into the Pending state where it will launch for a period of time, please

  • Go to the Feedback app
  • Create new feedback detailing what you’re seeing
  • Assign to the Developer Platform node, sub area App Deployment
  • Make sure you mark the issue as Problem and chose the option to file a bug if prompted

feedback

Once you’ve done the above send me email at with the tile of BringCast Pending along with a note of the bug number if you’re provided with one to this address

title

We’re actively trying to track this down.  Thx for your help.

New BringCast 4 UWP public beta build: 4.0.211

This is likely the last public build before we switch over to the RTM branch and push to the official app.  Thanks to all for the help with testing.  Cowabunga!

https://www.microsoft.com/store/apps/9nblggh5pm5q

Here is the changelog:

  • Fix application icon / tile scaling
  • Fix about dialog layout
  • Fix Feedback page won’t launch
  • Fix settings icon location
  • Rework the UI for Import / Export
  • It has it’s own page in the app
  • Onedrive login / logout has a dedicated page
  • Better error handling
  • Fix an issue where not enough space to view onedrive import on Lumia 950
  • Improve text on import / export page
  • Fix: remove from playlist on long press rebuilds whole playlist rather than removing item
  • Improve going to settings perf
  • buttons on Settings use the highlight color
  • Colors of pages.. About, feedback, tips, enhancements, downloads are now consistent
  • 3x playback added (only for desktop)
  • Diagnostics for helping find unhandled exceptions
  • Fix playlist reordering
  • Exchange previous / next positions, don’t increment / decrement
  • Ensure that the collection has positions, make sure FIC is not incorrectly initialized
  • Fix bad playlist state: If playlist items are position 0 bump them to the end of the playlist
  • Tap anywhere on the band player for home
  • Fix unhandled exception on Play button when nothing playing
  • Tweaks to the Drawer Design:
  • Remove circles
  • Add linesLines
  • Make settings button always present
  • Rename All to All Episodes by date
  • Fix infinite spinning progress after subscribing to a feed
  • Fix Slow scrolling on subscriptions generates un handled exception
  • Add Spinner in login button for onedrive to show login progress after app relaunch
  • Application banner now displays Pro if you have purchased a Pro subscription
  • More skip forward / backward incremenets
  • Right clicking on ff/rw buttons in player now works as a shortcut for configuring skip durations as well as press and hold
  • Fix UI for skip settings in settings to layout better

BringCast 4 public beta updated for Windows 10 Anniversary Update

It’s been rather quiet around here of late, primarily due to work being the focus as well as other general distractions from life.  For me the work in question has been shipping the Windows 10 Anniversary Update which went live at the end of June.  Mark has been busy being a new Dad 🙂

The good news is that the Anniversary Update has a ton of new end user and developer features and we now get to take advantage of the latter in BringCast.  To that end we’ve spent the last couple of months working on an update to the BringCast 4 public beta that specifically targets the Anniversary update.  A big focus for this update is stability and polish.. we’re now focused on shipping and the good news there is that this build is now feature complete.

Looking back through our source control system, we’ve made 1175 checkins since July fixing bugs and adding features.

So what’s new?

Improved Playback Stability:  This is the biggest item that has simplified the code and drastically improved stability of Playback.    For the developers amongst you we’re now using the Single Process background model which you can read more about here .

Improved Import Export workflow: increasingly we find ourselves listening to and watching podcasts across a number of different devices.  Since we don’t currently have a cloud backend (more on that in a future post) we wanted to offer an improved workflow with OneDrive.  Using the new import / export workflow accessible in settings it’s now possible to save and restore all your subscriptions, playlists, the state of what’s listened to and not as well as what’s downloaded.  It’s ease to restore back to the exact state that your in on a new device.  Items you downloaded before will be automatically downloaded again.

Improved Onedrive Login:  Coupled with the above, we’ve made it easier to log in to OneDrive by moving to using integrated authentication which means you can simply pick a Windows Live ID that you’ve already used to sign in on to OneDrive and use that to store and retrieve your podcast database for backing up or switching between devices.

More stuff is now free:  Looking at the number of podcasting solutions in the store, we decided that more functionality that was previously behind an in app purchase should be set free.  So now downloading, unlimited playlist items are all part of the free product.  That’s much better 🙂

Visual Layer goodness: We’ve added aspects of the new Visual Layer both by default in the app as well as behind an experimental setting.  If you turn that on you get more stuff.  Along the way we’ve also made a ton of performance improvements for example in page navigation.

  • Buffering is now indicated by a dynamic lighting effect
  • Drawer has a glass effect behind it
  • Listviews have a stagger animation
  • Connected animations are present between subscriptions and feed details
  • Layout animations are shown in subscriptions and on the player page for transport controls.

Adaptive UI: We’ve started to dip our toes into the water of adaptive UI.  There’s a ton more to do to make the UX better take advantage but we’ve started this effort.

Show notes display are back:  We took this away in the last update and now show notes are back in a new pop-up window.

Better telemetry: to help us identify and fix issues in deployment.  ‘Nough said.

Notable Bug fixes: reliability with downloading and playback but we’ve literally fixed err 88 bugs in this update.

So that’s what we’ve been up to.  Please feel free to download and play with the beta here.

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/store/p/bringcast-4-uwp-public-beta/9nblggh5pm5q

In the next post we’ll talk about the release plan for BringCast 4 and what comes next.

BringCast 4 beta for Windows 10 Here!

Well, it’s been a long time coming!! James and I have been super busy over the last year. James has shipped Windows 10. Mark has become a father and shipped Apartments.com. And… we’ve found some time to chip away at the next version of BringCast!

BringCast 4 is a ground-up re-write of the popular podcasting app for Windows Phone. We’ve re-architected it for the modern Windows platform, and it is available for Windows Phone 8.1 today! The work we have done also makes it a seamless transition to move BringCast to Windows 10 – both phone and desktop/tablet – in the not too distant future!

So, what’s new in BringCast 4? Well, quite a lot actually!

  • Playback is now simpler. There is no need to subscribe to shows any more. You can browse for any show and start streaming episodes with a tap.
  • Of course, if you want to subscribe, you can. We’ll manage automatically downloading new episodes for you in the background and clean up things you have played. We’ll automatically add episodes to playlists, and scan for new episodes even when BringCast isn’t running, showing notifications in the action center when new episodes are available.
  • Searching for shows just got a whole lot better, with web-powered search! This makes it easier to find what you’re looking for and discover new shows to love.
  • We now have variable playback speed, to help you get through your shows as efficiently as possible.
  • Episodes can be sorted and filtered thanks to a new database engine that powers the whole app.
  • The user interface is customizable allowing you to add quick links to your favorite shows and filters to the menu. We’ve also built the UI to look great on any sized phone screen.
  • If you like we can download episodes in the background using cellular data.
  • Cortana integration allows you to ask Cortana to search for a show, or to play or pause playback.

Perhaps best of all, the basic functionality of BringCast 4 is FREE!

If you’re interested in some of the gory details of BringCast development, be sure to check out the BringCast Dev Podcast.

Check out some screenshots below, and be sure to stay tuned to @bringcast on Twitter for updates!

The BringCast Dev Podcast

Did anyone find the Easter egg that we hid in the last podcast database update and BringCast 3.8.6!?

HINT: Try searching the database for “BringCast”… 🙂

That’s right – we’re launching our very own podcast called The BringCast Dev Podcast! This show, co-hosted by James and Mark will cover:

  • The on-going development of the app you know and love
  • Any geeky topics we’ve been interested in
  • Technical challenges we’ve been facing
  • Discussion of our favorite parts of recent podcasts we’ve listened to
  • Maybe even a few podcast and music recommendations

We won’t commit to a show schedule – let’s just say there will be new episodes as and when we find the time to record them 😉

Regardless, subscribe and enjoy! The first “real” episode is coming very soon!

BringCast 3.8.4, Database Update and SD Cards

We’ve been busy at work on BringCast v4, but have a little treat in store for all our current users!

BringCast v3.8.4 is now available in the store! This release has a few bug fixes and a transparent tile, so it looks great on Windows Phone 8.1! Get it now! In addition, we’ve published an update to the podcast database, including more of the shows that you guys love. Get it by going to Settings > Database and tapping “Update Database”.

While we’ve got your attention, it’s worth mentioning that Windows Phone 8.1 allows the installation of apps to an SD card. This means that if you’ve upgraded your OS, you can install BringCast to an SD card! This is great for users on smaller capacity devices, who have expandable memory. We plan on supporting this even better in BringCast 4, but for now this is a great stop-gap!

Enjoy!

Introducing BringCast 4

Today ObjectivePixel is excited to start telling the story around our next release of BringCast: version 4. And… it’s a biggie! In this post we’ll cover some of the key new features and details but there is a lot more to talk about in due course.

This release will exploit a number of the key new features in Windows Phone 8.1 that were announced this week at BUILD 2014. For that reason, our preview won’t kick off until the developer preview of Windows Phone 8.1 comes out (which the above blog posts suggests will happen “in the first part of April”). If you are interested in taking part, please send email to subject BC4 Preview Request.

Refined User Experience

So what’s new? In this release, as before in BC3, we took the decision early on to completely rebuild the UI from scratch. Unlike last time, however, we literally deleted all of the UX (for the developers amongst you that means blowing away the XAML pages & controls, styles etc. and rebuild using the new WinRT-based XAML platform). In short we kept the best bits and discarded what was less good. We have also moved away from using third party controls to being 100% native. In so doing we have continued to focus on honing the “player first” experience that puts the content you want to listen to at the heart of the experience. We introduced that UI paradigm back in v3.0 and have taken it further by de-cluttering and simplifying the player
by putting the controls that really matter front and center. The following two screenshots compare the previous player experience first with the new 4.0 experience shown as the second image with the Tangerine theme selected:

 

Fewer buttons; more information about what you are listening to. And, yes, gradients because metro doesn’t have to always be flat. Where have your episodes gone you may ask? The answer is into the new playback selection “drawer”. From there you can get to your playlists, recent items and the latest content from all of your subscriptions with a quick tap on the hamburger menu on the player. This is also the new gateway to subscriptions, playlist reordering etc. By creating this new UI “layer” we can both simplify the player and make it more powerful at the same time.

 

Simplified but more powerful playback powered by Windows Phone 8.1:

In the spirit of simplifying whilst adding more power (Scotty), in BringCast 4 you can now play anything from anywhere. There’s no need to add episodes to a playlist any more. If the content is not downloaded, it’s easy to see that you will be streaming: simply press the stream button and playback starts inline… you can easily start or resume an episode right from the episodes list. If you want to download items, a quick tap and hold brings our powerful download manager into play to ensure the episodes are on your device ready for those places without cell reception (and the button changes to a green cellular budget-friendly button.

 

Helped by a complete rewrite of our media playback infrastructure on top of the Windows Phone 8.1 audio engine, BringCast 4 can now take advantage of new platform capabilities such as the ability to play back at greater than 100% speed. This capability is alive, well and working in our recent builds:

More Automatic for more users

One of the big areas of feedback we’ve received is around the fact that the BringCast has historically given you a lot to manage. In order to be able to play episodes and download them you needed to have them in a playlist. Some users like this but for a large majority it is simply one more thing to manage that can get quickly out of control as episodes pile up in there. The reasoning behind why this design as remained this way for so long stems from a long-standing architectural limitation that has been hard to change without substantial surgery. We decided that now was the time to put the patient under the knife and get it fixed up. One of the major improvements we’re making in BringCast 4 is to make it much easier to manage what content is on the device and how you subscribe and get notified when there are new episodes:

   

 

Cortana enabled for speech

One of the (in our humble opinion) coolest parts of the Windows phone 8.1 feature set
is Cortana.

Not only does she bring a bunch of amazing goodness on her own but developers can also plug in and add application specific enhancements. We have started diving into what is possible here and have some basic capabilities working with more planned. “What podcasts does master chief listen to”.

SD Card support

This is a biggie that folks, in particular Nokia 520 users, have been asking for repeatedly for some time. Thanks to new APIs in Windows Phone 8.1 (that, by the way users of the 520 will be able to upgrade to) we are now able to offer the capability in BringCast 4.

Universal App

We’ve been talking about our “Windows 8” port of BringCast for a while now some of you will be asking what’s up? Back in V3 we did the work to make the application core portable between Silverlight and WinRT but the remaining problem was the UI layer; we don’t want to write new code simply to target a Windows tablet that has to be different than what we need to do for phone. From a user perspective a big part of our hesitation from moving forward this was the lack of a universal model for apps. When you buy BringCast on phone you would expect to also be able to get it for Windows and not have to buy it all over again. You’d expect your in-app purchases to be available. Luckily, Universal App support announced at BUILD should provide a solution to both classes of problem. The work we’ve done to move to WinRT will enable the Windows version of BringCast to be realized with little additional work in the V4 code base. It will also give us the flexibility to roam purchases etc.

Timeline

On the phone side, since we are squarely targeting the Windows Phone 8.1 platform with BringCast 4 our ability to make bits available to users is gated by availability of the OS. We are currently working on a preview version of the app that we hope to make available as soon as possible after the bits are available via the developer preview. On the Windows side we don’t have a final schedule defined yet as Phone is the top priority but hope to share details relatively soon.

In Summary

This is the first update we’re sharing in BC4. There is much more to talk about.. Expect to read more here over the course of the next few weeks.

Thanks!