IPHONE VERSION 2
Several weeks ago we launched Version 2 of
the HoS service and added some powerful new
features. The main innovation was expanding
from the single full-time "Radio Channel" to eight full-time channels.
We also rebuilt our main menu bar for easier
operation, added additional features to the
MY PLAYLISTS section, and rewrote parts of
our custom Flash web player for smoother
and more reliable operation. A full rundown
of all the new stuff is in What's New in V2?
Until March 1st those features were only available
on the web site. Now we've added those new
features and more to our iPHONE app, and the
update is available free in the App Store if you've
already bought the app for 99¢. If you haven't
tried the iPhone app yet, now's the perfect time
to cough up the big bucks and give it whirl ;-)
Our new iPhone app gives you on-the-go access to all 8 full-time channels — the eclectic All Archive Mix channel, plus seven genre-focused channels: Electronic Space, Ambient/Downtempo, Contemporary Instrumental, Orchestral/Chamber/Choral, Classic HoS Mix, World Fusion Mix, and Celtic Space.
In addition, personal playlists you create on the web site can now be played in the iPhone app.
Not only that, we've added on-demand access to programs within channels and playlists, so you can select any individual program in any of the full-time channel playlists or your personal playlists and go from there.
To answer the obvious followup question: no, you still cannot create personal playlists in the iPhone app. We had to defer that feature to Version 3. Nor can you navigate directly to any program in the archive like you can on the web site — that's also coming in Version 3. But anything you add to one of your MY PLAYLISTS is now available in the app.
So if you are determined and take the time to put all 973 programs into playlists (they're limited to 100 items each and you can make up to 100 playlists), then you can have mobile access to the entire archive now. Sweet!
Caveat user: if you make large playlists (more than 25 items) they will be very slow to load, and you will have to be very, very patient. We are testing a new back end architecture for the service that will speed things up, but for now you've been advised.
To answer the next followup question, we will be releasing a parallel update to our ANDROID app as soon as possible. We love our Android users as much as they love Hearts of Space, but for some reason there are a lot fewer of you, so our iPhone users get priority.
UPDATE, JUNE 9, 2012: Since the paragraph above was written last March, it has unfortunately become more difficult to justify the expense of releasing native Android applications. Some of the reasons are technical — Android devices are far less standardized than Apple's iOS devices, and a program that runs fine on one phone or tablet may not work in part or at all on others.
Furthermore, it is now clear that despite the large numbers of Android phones out there, only 1/5 as many people actually use the HOS Android app compared to Apple devices. Since the cost of developing it is the same as an Apple app, investing in the Android platform for a company our size no longer makes financial sense.
To solve the problem of offering mobile service to Android users (as well as other platforms like Windows Phone and RIM/Blackberry), we are now discussing developing a mobile version of our web site that will allow subscribers to run the service in the web browser of their mobile phone. There are compatibility problems using this approach as well, so we can't promise 100% support for every combination of phone/tablet and operating system like we can on Apple mobile devices. Nor can we give you a solid date for release beyond saying 'as soon as possible.'
Our thanks to stalwart programmer PAUL YAGO for some serious midnight oil burning and even a last minute fix while on vacation! The man is driven to get it right and we love that.
MORE FLASH GOODNESS
Our second announcement is that we've launched an update to our custom Flash web player. First, the little green triangle "play" icons next to programs were too subtle for some users. They have grown up and now tell you unambiguously what they do:
You can also see which program is playing in any playlist and pause the active stream:
Clicking the CHANNELS or MY PLAYLISTS tab itself will refresh the list of channels or playlists. Clicking the PLAY icon next to a channel or personal playlist will start it playing it from the top; to see the contents of any channel or playlist, click the name.
Within any full-time channel or personal playlist we've taken a feature from the iPhone app and now allow you on-demand access to each of the programs. So in addition to being able to switch channels, if you don't care for the show that's playing in a channel you can play any other, and the playlist will continue from there.
Last but not least, we rewrote some of the hidden plumbing in the Flash player for faster operation, and also fixed several obscure bugs that no one but our ace Flash programmer ALEX BURROWS understands for sure. Nevertheless, they are gone.
Enjoy the new software, and let us know about anything you don't understand or would like to see improved in the comments or by emailing email@example.com.