On Friday, Feb. 10th an updated Version 3.0 of our iPhone app was approved by Apple and showed up in the iOS App Store. See the description there for the full details.
One small bug emerged after release affecting the sign in box on iPads. We pushed an update that fixed that to Apple on Sunday and it is currently available in the app store as Version 3.1.
This version is 64 bit, so no more misleading message from Apple about slowing down your phone (it never did — it was exactly as fast as previous versions). A new approach to the player provides much more reliable streaming in difficult network situations, along with many bug fixes and minor improvements. It looks pretty much the same on screen, but there are big differences under the hood. The music should be far less subject to buffering interruptions.
FREE AT LAST
iOS upgrades have always been free, but with this version we are making the iOS app free for new users as well.
VERSION 4 IS COMING
Why no major changes or new features? Because this version of the app will be in service only for a few months, and then <FANFARE!> We will introduce a completely redesigned, full-featured, super-slick "Version 4" iOS app with all the features of our main web site and more.
At the same time, we'll be launching a brand new version of our website at www.HOS.com.
We've been silent about this until now, for two reasons. First, when we started the Version 4 rewrite/upgrade project over 18 months ago, we had no idea how long it would take. Second, we didn't want to create hopes and expectations for our users until we were certain could actually deliver them.
VERSION 3 UPDATE
As the months passed, we realized that before launching Version 4 we would have to update the existing iOS app to fix problems that emerged due to new versions of the iOS operating system and Apple’s insistence on 64-bit compatibility. That update is the Version 3 iOS app mentioned above, now in the App Store.
If you've been streaming from HOS.com using our web application, you know the service has been very reliable. Most problems are due to mixed-up email addresses, forgotten passwords, credit card issues and...Flash updates.
Yes, we know. Like many major video sites, we are still using Flash. Despite what you may have heard, it has been an excellent streaming solution for us for the last seven years. But technology never sleeps. Our old "backend" was difficult to update and administer, and Flash was slowly but surely being replaced by newer streaming technologies. So as part of this major rewrite and redesign we decided to rebuild our backend completely using newer streaming protocols and state of the art cloud technology from Amazon Web Services (AWS). This means that going forward the service should be even faster and more reliable.
VERSION 3 TO VERSION 4
The current version of our web site has some geriatric elements and limitations due to the site architecture we chose in 2007. For Version 4 we commissioned first-class professional developer BAY INTERACTIVE and our longtime programmer STEPHEN BROSSEAU to start from scratch and rewrite the entire setup based on up-to-date web and mobile standards. We spent almost a year working on technical specifications, "wireframes,” and detailed design for the new user interfaces and new apps — before starting to write code.
We realize that some of you have had frustrating problems with the previous generation mobile apps, and for that we apologize sincerely. The Version 3 iOS update will end those issues on the iOS side and provide reliable, though still somewhat limited access to the service for the next few months. We will follow up with a similar update for Android as soon as possible.
When Version 4 of the HOS web and iOS app goes into beta testing this summer (please email service(at)hos.com if you want to be a beta tester) the situation will be completely different: there will be many improvements and new features on the web site, and aside from the necessary differences in screen design and graphic layout, the feature set of the iPhone and iPad apps will be identical to the website. Many users will only know the phone version of Hearts of Space, and never need to see the full size website.
We know many of you have been waiting patiently for this, and we're truly sorry it's taking so long. We have learned that software development is a difficult and demanding craft, and we want to make sure we deliver a beautiful and reliable suite of apps so you can lose yourself, or find yourself, in the music.
iOS and (later) Android apps will use native audio players and the same HLS streaming protocol. As before the audio codec is AAC-LC above 48kbps and HE-AACv2 below 48kbps. The use of native players on iOS and Android means that the app will play nice like other audio apps when in the background or streaming to Bluetooth devices. When the proverbial smoke clears the music should sound better than ever and be far less subject to buffering interruptions in changing network conditions.