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!

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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!

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BringCast 3.8.3 is Available!

BringCast 3.8.3 is available now in the Windows Phone Store! This update includes the following changes:

  • Support for podcasts from PodcastOne. We love the work Rob Greenlee did for podcasting at Microsoft, and he’s now CTO over at PodcastOne! BringCast can now process podcast feeds from PodcastOne, and we’ve even added a bunch to the built-in database!
  • Expanded podcast database. A whole bunch of user-requested feeds have been added.
  • Updating database now updates subscriptions automatically. In the past, if a podcast publisher changed the URL of their show, users would have had to unsubscribe and re-subscribe. With this new release, when you update your database (via Settings > Database > Check for Database Updates), we’ll automatically patch any URLs that have changed!
  • Bug fixes. We fixed the top six bugs being reported by users

Grab the update now and enjoy!

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Epic Saturday

Saturday of Geek Weekend was EPIC. Here’s what we did:

  • Made amazing progress on what will become BringCast 4.0.0. We started work on a major overhaul of the user experience, fleshed out a lot of ideas, and got various proof-of-concepts working
  • Pushed out two betas of BringCast 3.8.3. The new version has PodcastOne feed support, improved database handling so it will now patch any URLs that have changed in subscriptions, and we also fixed the top bugs
  • Automated some of the time consuming steps of processing podcast feed requests, which resulted in…
  • …pushing out two podcast database library updates which all users can benefit from right now (Settings > Database > Check for Database Updates)

Today (Sunday) is the last day of Geek Weekend. We’re excited to see what we’ll achieve!

More later… 🙂

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New Podcast Database Available 2/23

The following feeds have been added or updated. To get the updated database go to Settings->Database and check for updates.

Airspeed
All About Women With Dr. Drew
Ambient Alchemy
ARRL Audio News
Business Story of the Day
Cordkillers Audio Podcast
Credit Union Information Security Podcast
Crypto-Gram Security Podcast
Denton Bible Church >> Sunday Messages
DevRadio (MP4) – Channel 9
DoopCast – Philadelphia Union
Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy
Improve Photography
Inside Windows Phone (MP4) – Channel 9
Jesse Liberty » YapCast
Liquidmatrix Security Digest Podcast
Mobile Roar Podcast
NBC Nightly News (video)
NPR Columns: Sports with Frank Deford Podcast
OWASP 24/7
Paul’s Security Weekly
Pilots Journey Aviation Podcast
Ping! (MP4) – Channel 9
PowerScripting Podcast
Risky Business
Sadayatana
SANS Internet Storm Center Daily Network Security and Computer Security Podcast
Slice of Scifi TV
Sounds of Berklee
Sounds of Berklee
StarTalk Radio
Tech News Weekly
The 361 Degrees Podcast
The A1-Wrestling.com Podcast
The Digital Photo Experience
The Dungeons & Dragons Podcast
The Hello World Podcast
The Jay & Dan Podcast
The Steve Austin Show
The UC Architects Podcast
This Week in Enterprise Tech (MP3)
This Week On Channel 9 (MP4) – Channel 9
Timothy Keller Podcast
Uncontrolled Airspace: General Aviation Podcast
Windows Developer Show
Windows Weekly
Windows Weekly Video (large)
WPDev Fusion
Xamarin Podcast’s sounds on SoundCloud – Hear the world’s sounds
Ykkösaamu

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7 Phones, 2 Ultrabooks, 3 Tablets, 2 Coffee Cups and 1 Very Understanding Wife!

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.

The Setup

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!

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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

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Geek Weekend!

This coming weekend, James and I will be getting together for a weekend of pure geekery! Since we live about 1,300 miles apart (James in Redmond, WA and me in San Diego, CA), we try to get together a couple of times a year for a pure geek-out. We refer to these as “Geek Weekends”!

Typically, these are weekends of massive productivity – the type that can only be brought on by being under the same roof for a few days. Previous geek weekends gave birth to:

  • BringCast 3.0’s refreshed UI and re-design (San Diego, September 2012)
  • Portable core, finishing BringCast 3.0, goal setting for v3.8.0 (Redmond, March 2013)

We’re hoping this coming weekend will be equally as productive!! James arrives in San Diego late on Thursday night. Armed with coffee and food supplies we’ll be squeezing as much BringCast goodness as we can into Friday, Saturday and Sunday!

Follow what we’re up to via Twitter, Facebook and of course this blog! We plan to use the hashtag #GW14 on Twitter, so keep in touch!

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BringCast 3.8.2 Is Live!

BringCast v3.8.2 is now live in the Windows Phone Store! You can get it here! The change log is as follows:

  • Expanded podcast database
  • Supports new “wp-podcast” URI app protocol
  • Bug fixes

Let’s drill into those!

We’ve been busy adding your podcast requests to the database. While you can easily update this over-the-air via Settings > Database > Check for Database Update, we like to always ship the latest version with each update. See earlier blog posts for details of all the new podcasts that have been added here and here.

The “wp-podcast” protocol is a project spearheaded by our friend Rob Irving, author of the great app, Car Dash.

Rob proposed the idea of having a standard “podcast protocol” to enable apps on the phone to easily interact with whatever podcasting app a user might have installed. This makes life easier for developers, as they can make their app work with a single podcast protocol, and have the confidence that other apps that implement it will integrate also.

Rob worked with us and also Mark Monster of P|Cast to flesh out and stabilize the protocol, and now Car Dash, P|Cast and of course BringCast have all been updated to use it. The end result is more seamless integration between the apps! Rob has detailed the protocol on his blog, here.

3.8.2 also squashes a lot of bugs. We tackled the topmost bug occurrences to give everybody a more reliable experience. The keen-eyed amongst you may notice we dropped the animated transitions between the pages. This fixes a weird graphical glitch that Steve Litchfield at AAWP was seeing on his particular combination of a Lumia 1020 with the Black update installed. We’re glad to have that one squashed, and we quite like the lack of transitions – it seems to make everything that bit faster!

Go get BringCast 3.8.2 now from the store. BringCast 3.0.4 for our WP7 will be coming soon, too!

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A Tale of Two Versions (Sorry!)

Dear users,

We pushed out an update to our beloved Windows Phone 7 users over the weekend. Version 3.0.4 addresses the top bugs and shows our commitment to our users on the older version of the OS.

Unfortunately, when pushing this update out, we inadvertently managed to vaporize the Windows Phone 8 application package, containing BringCast 3.8.1!! This manifested itself on user’s devices by the Store offering to “upgrade” our WP8 users to the WP7 version of the app!! Not something we planned, or that you guys wanted, we’re sure…!

So – please accept our apologies. This was a mistake and we’re working fast to fix it. BringCast 3.8.2 for WP8 is currently pending approval, and as soon as it is available, it will fix those users who got downgraded. We can confirm that subscriptions and settings will be restored when 3.8.2 is installed!

If you’re still running BringCast 3.8.1, please do not update from the store until we give the all clear. Sorry again for this mistake! Hopefully everyone will be up and running again in the next day or two.

Just another day in the life of software developers… 🙂

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New Podcast Database Available

The following feeds have been added or updated. To get the updated database go to Settings->Database and check for updates.

99% Invisible
AVRant Home Theater Podcast » Podcast
Bryan Suits
BTR: DDP Radio | Blog Talk Radio
CBN – Podcast – Comentaristas
Coding 101 (MP3)
Credit Union Information Security Podcast
Crypto-Gram Security Podcast
Denton Bible Church >> Sunday Messages
Design Matters with Debbie Millman: 2009-2013
DevRadio (MP4) – Channel 9
DoopCast – Philadelphia Union
Dream Talk Radio with Anne Hill
ESPN: First Take
Film Riot (HD MP4)
Focus on the Family Daily Broadcast
Freedomain Radio Volume 6: Shows 2120+
Gamertag Radio The Union of Music and Gaming – Xbox One, Playstation 4, and Wii U
Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy
Get up and CODE!
Harddisken (MP3)
Ice T’s Final Level Podcast
Inside Windows Phone (MP4) – Channel 9
Issues, Etc.
Le rendez-vous Tech
Liquidmatrix Security Digest Podcast
Mobile Roar Podcast
MonsterTalk
Nachtmagazin (Audio-Podcast)
NBA.com’s Hang Time Podcast
Nintendo Life | Podcast
On The Page: Screenwriting
OWASP 24/7
Passion Podcast Passion Podcast Express Podcasts | Passion Podcast
Paul’s Security Weekly
Podcast Science
Risky Business
RWR
SANS Internet Storm Center Daily Network Security and Computer Security Podcast
Sex With Emily
Skeptoid
SMRPodcast
Sounds of Berklee
StarTalk Radio
Still Untitled: The Adam Savage Project
The 361 Degrees Podcast
The A1-Wrestling.com Podcast
The Dice Tower
The Double Shadow
The Jay & Dan Podcast
The New Media Show
The New Media Show (Audio)
The PC Pro Podcast
The Phones Show (MP4 version)
The Science Show – Full program podcast
The UC Architects Podcast
This Week On Channel 9 (MP4) – Channel 9
Ultrageek
UPDATE

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