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Post Posted:: May 12th, 2012, 8:02 am 

Joined: May 12th, 2012, 7:01 am
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I just posted a new Android app for LibriVox to Google Play, and am looking for some feedback. If anyone has the time to look at it, I would appreciate any thoughts or suggestions for the next version. I am quite pleased with how it has come together so far, but I am sure other folks will see things that I may have missed. The URL is: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=biz.bookdesign.librivox Here are a few screen shots:

Image Image

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Post Posted:: May 12th, 2012, 8:38 am 
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Like the icon :D

The description may be a little ambiguous where it says "...the app includes listings for new books, featuring classic best sellers and out of print treasures." 'New' means something more like 'recently recorded' but perhaps just taking it out might be smoother?

I'm not quite clear about the settings for streaming/downloading over data plans. Does that mean that the default is wifi only? And I should only tick these boxes if I have a data plan (which I don't, as it happens) which I want to eat up in LV files? :)

Is there a way to update just new releases in the database, or do I need to do a factory reset?

Thanks for putting in the About link!

Looks like "Abbott, John S.C." needs some love from the name-consistency department :lol:

Playing just fine here! The Starring works fine. It'd be very cool if the album art (which appears in many, but not yet all, of our recordings) could be used if available; would really perk up the 'Titles' screen which otherwise has a lot of our baby-barf-green logo without much purpose. (An alternative might be to use the logo in four colours, one for each category: Fiction, Poetry, Non-fiction, Dramatic Works.)

Oh look, "Altsheler, Joseph"'s another bad-namer. This is quite a fun way to find them. :D

Looking forward to playing with this more!!

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Post Posted:: May 12th, 2012, 8:55 am 

Joined: May 12th, 2012, 7:01 am
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Thanks for the quick (and detailed) feedback! That will be a bit help refining things.

I think you are right about the "new" in the description - I will have to think of an elegant way to say "recently released by LibriVox."

The streaming options control whether the app prompts you before listening to or playing a book without WiFi. It will work over a data plan, but downloading a whole book sucks a lot of data, so I wanted to keep people from doing that by accident. I probably ought to revise those titles or descriptions, though, to make it clearer.

It will automatically download new releases if you start the app more than 6 hours since the last download.

I am still not sure what the best solution is on the album art. I can't get the URL for the album cover from the main RSS feed - I only get it when I pull the RSS feed for the individual book. The way I have it set now, it will update the album art when someone opens an individual book (and the RSS feed is loaded.) I think pulling all of the RSS feeds would probably take too much time (and data). I like the idea about coloring them by genre - I already have that data, so it wouldn't require pulling anything else. I will look into that.

Glad you like it!

Theodore

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Post Posted:: May 12th, 2012, 8:59 am 
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Ah, a few of the books DO have album art -- but v3 of Sherlock Holmes, as pictured above, is the only one I can find. So I don't know what the grounds for showing it is, my Frankenstein shows it ... Black Beauty doesn't.

Also, I had a panic trying to find how to get back to the playing-file from noodling about the titles and genres screens.

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Post Posted:: May 12th, 2012, 9:03 am 
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Another thought ... it might be good to have a black on white skin too (I know, I know, you've written this genuinely awesome app, and all people fuss about is the way it looks :roll:) ... which will be more readable for some people. Further down the line, a large font option would be even more handy for hard-of-sight users.

Also, since I'm asking for the moon on a stick and a pony ... could the chapter title be shown in the taskbar shade-thingy? Rather than the filename? We have tried fairly hard to keep these so the chapter number fits onto the screen of even quite a small player -- usually right at the start, so it's a bit more elegant than 01_black-beauty-by-anna-sew which is showing at the mo :D

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Post Posted:: May 12th, 2012, 9:08 am 
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[Just to be clear ... there is Category, which I don't think you're using anywhere obvious, but could be referenced for discreet colour-coding ... and then there's Genre which already has the tab available. Creating colours for all the Genres would be an almighty task, unless you're going to head in the direction of an icon for each, which might look amazing or completely confusing. I'm no designer, so have no idea which.]

Finally, it might just be me being a bit of an Android numpty, but I have had a few problems exiting. This happens with the default music player, so if you want to chalk it up to "problem between device and chair" I won't mind at all.

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Post Posted:: May 12th, 2012, 10:12 am 

Joined: May 12th, 2012, 7:01 am
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Thanks! I'm loading the pictures from the rss feeds, and it seems that most of them just have the standard logo. Recent books and German language books seem a bit better. I don't know if there is a better place to find chapter art.

Also with the titles, for many books the RSS feed just gives a version of the file name. For others it is a proper title. I don't know if there is a better source for those, either.

I am thinking about doing a tablet version that would use larger fonts. It would be easy to show that on a phone, too.

What were your exit problems? That would be good to know.

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Post Posted:: May 14th, 2012, 10:16 pm 

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I went ahead and posted an updated version today. The main purpose was to include some enhancements to battery life, but I also implemented your suggestions regarding coloring the icons by category. I think it might be better if I swapped the logo for category icons, but designing good icons isn't easy, so that will wait for a later time. Also, I noticed that there now seems to be only one Abbott, John S.C.!

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Post Posted:: May 15th, 2012, 3:45 am 
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Ah yes, I did wonder about the battery life -- but the greatest use seem restricted to the initial catalogue download. Still, improvements always good there! Updating now ... ... ...

I can see the colours in the 'new' tab, but not in titles, authors or genres? Are those cached, and that's why I only see it in 'new'?

Another design note -- the grey writing on the grey bar at the top of the individual chapter screen is so hard to read that I actually just thought it was plain, and it was only once I noticed the dropdown arrow that I saw what was going on.

The exit issues were because I got in a muddle about using the device back button to leave the app, and then going back in, I wasn't sure how to return to the playing chapter, since I hadn't starred it.

Something on my wishlist is a timer -- I thought it'd be great to listen to Moby Dick to go to sleep to ... but worried about the battery life if it was playing all night. (I also only got about 10 mins in before I was heartily sick of him going on about whales, but that's entirely my own problem.) I switched to Northanger Abbey, but had the same all-night playing issue there, of course. Oh, I also managed to play just one file and then it stopped ... it might be good to have a toggle between going on to the next chapter and just playing the one? (If there is one, I've missed it. :|)

Oh, finally ... I wanted to avoid the Northanger which has me narrating part of it :roll: ... but couldn't tell from the descriptions who the readers were / whether things were collaboratives or solos. Is that information available to the app which could go into the description tab?

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Post Posted:: May 15th, 2012, 9:37 am 

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Thanks for the great feedback!

Regarding the colors, I wasn't saving the category information in the first version, so if you upgrade, you have to do a factory reset (and re-load the database) to see them. They will show up automatically on new installs.

I had been meaning to tidy up that chapter selector on the play screen for a while. I just did so today, so it should be out in the next version. Also, I added an option to automatically stop at the end of each chapter, which should help with some of the things you mentioned.

I'll have to think about the timer - it seems like it could be useful for some people, but I'm not sure how to integrate it without making things look too cluttered.

I'll look into the narrators, as well, it seems like it might be easy to add that to the end of the descriptions.

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Post Posted:: May 15th, 2012, 9:42 am 
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You rock!!

[Could the timer be in the menu? -- select it and then go to a book&chapter ... it will play 30 mins, 1hr or whatever from that point. I don't think I'd want more control than that, other than being able to turn playback off before that time, I get lost enough futzing about already. I'm so not a UX person, though.]

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Post Posted:: May 19th, 2012, 5:18 pm 

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Well I just put a new version up on Google Play. For this one, I have been concentrating mainly on making everything work as smoothly as possible, rather than adding new features. There are a few things you might enjoy, though.

Readers (and play duration) are now listed on the chapter tab for each book (where they are included in the RSS file)

The pause after each chapter feature has been implemented, which can perhaps stand in for a sleep timer until I get that implemented.

My next task is to work on a 2.0 version, where I hope to implement a number of things, like bookmarks, the ability to comment on books, the sleep timer, and some other things. It may be a month or so before I get that out, though.

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