Monday, June 15, 2009

Radio Paradise app 1.6 - hopefully next week

I'm just finishing up some enhancements to the free Radio Paradise app - this'll bring it to version 1.6. It's now pending review with Apple.

The most noticeable change will be with the user interface, as can be seen in this screenshot:

The app will now buffer approximately 10 minutes of audio and allows rewind and fast forward within this buffer while still buffering the live stream.

It'll also support true "pause" (again, up to about 10 minutes), so if you accidentally pull out your headphones, or need to stop the music for a few minutes, you can then resume right where you left off!

In the above picture the gray bar above the rewind/stop/fast forward buttons represents the audio currently buffered. The red line represents what portion of the buffer to which you are currently listening. In this example, the buffer is about 1/4 full and we are listening to the "live" part of the stream.

I'm still not crazy about my "tunemarking" buttons. The + one will allow you to tag a song, buy it up on iTunes, email the track info, etc, and the other button will let you manage your list of previously marked songs. I'm admittedly a poor graphic designer (programming is my skill set), so this is the best I've come up with so far for representing the tunemarking concept.

You can read more about the current version of the app here.


carl said...

The app is much improved yet again. I notice that when I get in the car and start up RP it is streaming via wifi. But when I pull away it now briefly drops the signal while it grabs the station off of 3G. The last version just gave some sort of network error and I had to manual intervene. Nice fix.

There is one small (I think) enhancement that I would make. The functionality that pauses/stops RP when you unplug your headphones would be great to have if the iphone is removed from a dock (line out is disconnected). (or perhaps if power/charging is cut?) This would alleviate the need to stop RP from playing when you get out of the car (assuming you take the iPhone with you).

The tunemarking is fine. It is not an award winning UI, but hey, it gets the job done.

The audio quality is so much better with the 1.3 or 1.4 release. I assume you are using some new stream/compression...maybe AAC+ ? I find that even on the 24kpbs that the quality is fine.

Oh, one other small enhancement I think would be helpful, could you make the stream quality setting a bit easier to see which quality is currently in use? Right now it is a dark grey which (for me) is too close to the grey of the other stream rate buttons (24k, 64k, 128k). Maybe make the text red?

Lastly, you should charge $0.99 for this. Maybe you get some $$ from RP....but someone should be buying you a beer. Nice work!

Mostly Torn said...

Hi Carl,

Thank you for the thoughtful comments. You have some great suggestions there. I'll try to incorporate them in the next release.

The improved audio quality is due to using AAC plus (also known as HE AAC). The quality at 64K is the equivalent of a 128K MP3 stream. And, as you mentioned, it's not too bad even at 24K. I recently made a several hour road trip and used the 24K stream and didn't have a single interruption in the music.

One change I've made that people probably won't notice is the improved handling of dropped connections. If you are switching from WiFi to cell and both connections are at the same bitrate, the app will attempt to stitch together the two streams and provide an uninterrupted listening experience. This requires the app have built up enough of a buffer to make it seamless, otherwise there will be a moment of silence or an audio skip when it reconnects.

As for charging for the app, there are no plans for that. Hopefully it will always remain free. I made it as my way of giving support to Radio Paradise. I can't afford to donate much money to them, but I can donate some of my time by improving the app.

pixelpidgeon said...

brilliant app for a brilliant radio station. well done. i have notice one problem though. just lately the software is repeating itself for maybe 5 mins and then repeating this loop. i only have an 8gb touch. could this be a memory issue or something?

Mostly Torn said...

I have fix for this pending review with Apple. There was a problem with the buffer wrapping around if you lost the connection while the buffer was full.

Based on Apple's current review times, an update (version 1.6.7) will be available in a couple weeks.

pixelpidgeon said...

Thanks for your reply and so quickly and the info. I look forward to seeing radio paradise in the update app list ;') come on apple!

Mostly Torn said...

Hopefully you aren't in the UK. At the request of the owners of the Radio Paradise station I had to remove the app from the UK iTunes App Store.

So, unfortunately there won't be any new RP app updates for UK people. Sorry.

pixelpidgeon said...

oh dear. i am from uk. is their any work-around you know of? wonder why RP dont want your app available to uk?... oh well, where theres a will theres a way. cheers for a great product anyway. ;')

Anonymous said...

I'm also an RP fan from the UK. What's the problem? :(

Mostly Torn said...

Unfortunately, the app was removed from the UK store at the request of the folks at RP.

I'm not 100% certain, but I believe the problem was a music licensing company in the UK wanted extra licensing fees to be paid for use of the music within the app even though RP already pays UK music licensing fees for their Internet usage. In the end, RP couldn't justify the extra costs for a free app.

The short of it is RP asked me to remove the app from the UK store due to music licensing issues.

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