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!
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:
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.
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!
That’s the formula for what is shaping up to be a very successful geek weekend!
So, what have we been up to so far? James arrived on Thursday night, so we caught up for an hour or so before getting a good night’s sleep in.
On Friday, after getting set up, we started with a discussion of what we wanted to achieve, both long term and this weekend.
Typically we both work independently, so we had a few things to demo to each other of some new core components that will form part of BringCast v4.0.0.
Around lunch time, we hooked up with Mr Travis Lowdermilk (of Windows Developer Show fame!!) for a video chat and general UX geek out about our various pain points with BringCast’s current UX. This picture shows Travis drawing on his whiteboard via video chat!
It was an awesome session and certainly gave James and me lots to think about with regard to our planned UX overhaul for v4.
After a well-earned lunch break in the San Diego sunshine, James and I got back to coding for a few more hours.
We’ll keep you guys posted on what today brings! #GW14
Update: We of course are aware that there are TWO very understanding wives. The author of the blog post was referring to the wife that is hosting the two geeks
Our friend Rob has just released an update to his excellent app, Car Dash, which now integrates with BringCast!
Car Dash is a Windows Phone 8 dashboard application for the commuter!
* Large touch-friendly interface
* Play music from your phone’s music library using voice commands
* Play music from Nokia MixRadio using voice commands *Nokia Phones only
* Store frequent destinations, with the press of a button launch a navigation app that will route you to your saved destination
* Store frequently used contacts to quick place phone calls
* Buttons to quickly navigate your phones settings menus (WiFi, Cellular, Bluetooth etc)
* Buttons to navigate to frequently used apps (Live Music Access, WPCentral, WhatsApp etc)
* Program an NFC tag to launch the app
The latest version integrates with BringCast, so you can now control podcast playback directly from the app! It also supports voice commands to control various functions. For example, with Car Dash installed, you can start BringCast playback with the following voice command:
“BringCast Play Podcast”
Are you a Windows Phone developer who is looking to integrate with BringCast? Check out the details of how to do so here.
It’s been a long time since our last post. We’ve been hard at work and we’re back with some great news! BringCast 3.8.0 is now available in the Windows Phone Store!! This is a huge release, bringing lots of great features.
For starters, it’s our first release of BringCast for Windows Phone 8. You’ll notice a beautiful, fast and fluid UI that makes use of every pixel on your device. The app starts up faster, too! We’ve expanded the podcast database, and added many highly-requested features, like customizable seek intervals and automatic clean-up of episode files that are no longer needed.
One new feature we’re super proud of is the ability to use the lock screen / Bluetooth / headphone controls to skip within episodes. When this is enabled, it means you can easily skip through sections of a podcast using your headphone controls, or the Bluetooth controls in your car!
We’ve refined the inbox workflow, too, to make it simpler to use. Now, if you want to listen to every episode of a particular podcast, just flick a switch and new episodes will be added to your player, skipping the inbox completely. For those podcasts where you like to pick and choose what episodes you play, the inbox has been cleaned up to make it super easy to triage what you want and what you don’t.
BringCast 3.8.0 is also the first release to offer integration with other apps. Car Dash (formally known as Car Starter) integrates with us and can start podcast playback in BringCast directly! We also have a completely customizable user interface theme, so you can change the color of the app to suit your mood.
We’re super proud of this release, and hope you love it as much as we’ve enjoyed building it. Screenshots, a video and a full change log are shown below.
There’s so much more BringCast goodness coming in 2014. We can’t wait to share it with you! Follow us on Twitter – @bringcast.
Hello there Dear readers. It’s been a while since we posted any updates here so let’s fix that right now. Here’s what’s been going on:
BringCast 3.0 [for Windows Phone]
Back on July 11th we finally shipped BringCast 3.0 for Windows Phone. I must say this release felt like a marathon. V2 came out way back in 2011 and 3.0 has proved really hard despite the doubling of the dev team (man it is so amazing to have Mark on board!). We did a lot of foundational work including a bunch of refactoring and the build out of our cloud service (which hasn’t yet gone live); by the time 3.0 shipped pretty much the entire app had been rewritten from the ground up with the future in mind. Thanks to input from Travis Lowdermilk we also decided to redo the whole UX. We literally threw away everything that existed and started again. We hope you like the results. Well that’s all done and dusted now and we’re been moving onwards and upwards..
BringCast 3.01 revenge of the Charcoal Skin
Shortly after doing 3.0 we released a minor update with some bug fixes and a new charcoal skin:
This release also included 20 or so new feeds as requested by users. Mark has been working wonders on our parser infrastructure enabling us to expand our feed support. Keep the requests coming.
There are still a couple of features and bug fixes we want to get out on the 3x codebase. The first is playlist re-ordering. This was something we wanted in 3.0 but it didn’t make the cut. We’re not quite done building this yet but not far off.. here is a video James shot at the weekend:
There are a couple more smallish tweaks and bug fixing we’ll be doing this release… After this it will be full steam ahead to..
We have made a massive investment in portability in BringCast 3.x and we are going pedal to the metal to leverage this into a 4.x series of releases specifically targeting Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8. We have a few more milestones of work to get things where they need to be after which we’ll be going into beta for BC4. This will be another big release that we are extremely excited about. We will start to take advantage of Windows Phone 8 features such as bigger screen size and faster launch times. This is also the time when we hope to bring a unique set of features to Windows 8 for the first time.. specifically targeting Windows 8.1 and a bunch of the new APIs that will enable us to do interesting things. We don’t want to say too much just yet as we want to make sure we can get everything working before posting too many details.
We also sorely need to update our web presence; this is also in the plan for the near term.
So.. thanks for your patience. It is hard work building software in our sparse spare time and frustrating at times and the ongoing encouragement and support of our loyal users helps to motivate us to keep moving forwards. Stay tuned!
Mark here. I thought it would be good to jot down some words about the current state of BringCast 3.0 development!
Firstly, apologies that it’s taking a long time. James and I are super busy with our day jobs, so we only get a few hours each week to chip away at BringCast development. But, rest assured the project is still alive and well and we’re ensuring we get everything right.
The last few weeks have seen some UI tweaks – as you guys requested, we’ve toned down the usage of “BringCast green” on all the screens to make things more readable. Here are some screenshots of the latest iteration of the UI:
We’ve also re-branded “What’s New” as the “Inbox”. We figured this was a ubiquitous term that people understood and it can apply to podcast episodes just like it does to email!
A lot of our recent work has been around the RSS feed parser. We’ve decided to make this core part of BringCast completely portable. It has also been re-coded to make it easier to test so that we can more easily fix problem feeds through it that you guys report!
Also, as we talked about previously, BringCast 3.0 for Windows Phone 7.5 will not include cloud mode. That will be deferred until BringCast 4.0, for Windows Phone 8. So, we’ve also been working on making “offline” mode work as seamlessly as possible.
We’re aware from users that BringCast 3.0 Beta 1 recently expired. We plan to ship Beta 2 in the next few days to address this.
Many thanks for all the feedback and support!
Mark & James
Geeky ramblings from the developers behind BringCast