James and I have been hard at work this weekend getting BringCast 4 ready for beta testing! After a super-productive “Geek Weekend”, I’m proud to say we made it.
BringCast 4 is a complete re-write as a Universal Windows App for Windows Phone 8.1.
It has a brand-new user interface, which is both simpler to use and more powerful. Here’s the new playback screen:
It’s cleaner than BringCast 3.8, yet shows more episode detail information. The new UI is fully adaptive to support large screen devices such as the Nokia Lumia 1520 and high DPI devices like the Nokia Lumia Icon.
The new Windows Universal App model also allows us to finally offer variable playback speed! You can choose from a bunch of options to speed through episodes at a more efficient pace. We’ve also added variable speed scrubbing to give you extra control.
Tapping the hamburger menu icon in the top right opens the new drawer. This is where BringCast 4’s new power user features really start to shine through. From here you can manage your playlists, but also view a complete playback history of every episode you’ve ever played.
BringCast 4 is built atop a fully relational database, making it possible to slice-and-dice episode lists however you want. You can show all episodes, unplayed or just those that you’ve downloaded. Also, new in this release is the ability to play an episode from anywhere in the app, without having to add it to a playlist first. This makes BringCast 4 an excellent choice for the type of users who likes to view a list of episodes in a show and play them easily, without worrying about playlist management.
With BringCast 4 you can ensure that you always have the X latest episodes available on your device and we’ve refined the display of them. Here you can see the list of episodes in a show, with one-tap access to play and stream and at-a-glance information about the episode.
This new version has been built from the outset to be fully localizable too, so we’ll be asking for some help from our loyal multi-lingual users to help us with translations into your languages!
Being a Universal Windows App has allowed us to greatly improve the download manager. You can now queue as many episodes to download as you like and the operating system will get them over Wi-Fi in the background. Is there a new episode that you just have to listen to now, but you’re not on Wi-Fi? No problem, BringCast 4 now supports promoting episodes to download over cellular in the background – there’s no need to keep the app open anymore!
There are lots of other features we’ll briefly touch on, including:
- Auto-suggestion of podcasts when searching
- Integration with Cortana – ask her to search for podcasts for you, or to control playback by voice
- Mission Control – a high-level view of all episodes across all shows that you can slice-and-dice, thanks to the powerful database under the hood and infinite scrolling
You guys have been clamoring for this release for some time and we’ve felt inspired by the overwhelmingly positive energy you’ve been sending us! So… what took time?
Really, the re-write is what took the time. BringCast 3.8 was already a well-established and feature-rich product. When Microsoft announced Universal Windows Apps earlier this year at //BUILD/, we know it was the right choice for the next version of BringCast to enable all the great features we wanted to bring, along with keeping us on the most modern platform version.
So, the decision was made to essentially start from scratch! With the updated platform, we chose to build support for large screen, high DPI devices and localization into the core of the product.
Perhaps one of the most time consuming things we chose to do was to sit BringCast 4 atop a fully relational database. This not only had a steep learning curve, but also tore apart our tried and trusted methodology of binary serialization of the data model that had powered the first versions of BringCast so well. However, the moment we implemented episode filtering, we knew we’d made the right architectural choice!
I Want It!
We’ll be sharing BringCast 4 Beta Zero with some select users as soon as this week. Once we’ve ironed out any show-stoppers with that small group, we’ll open up Beta One to those users who previously expressed an interest a few months back (thank you!).
Beta Two will be made publicly available to anyone who is interested ahead of the final release.
Please be patient, BringCast 4 is coming soon!