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TWiT 2.0 Released

April 17, 2012

lyalindotcom

I am very excited to finally announce the long overdue release of TWiT v2.0; my TWiT.tv app for Windows Phone 7.5.

I am first to admit it… this release took a longtime; much longer than expected (mostly due to my very busy day job at Microsoft) and I do apologize for the delay. I also want to thank the patient users, active supporters, beta testers and of course the TWiT staff for all the help and encouragement throughout the process.

Ready to download the app? Click on the image below!

Important Notes

–        Starting from this release this app will only support Windows Phone 7.5 OS (or greater)

  • This update is only available to those who are using Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango) OS. Neither this update nor future updates will be made available for those still on Windows Phone 7.0, sorry! Please update to Windows Phone 7.5 OS (or greater)

–        Known Issue after update

  • Any episodes that were listed as in-progress and network shows you marked as favorite will no longer be visible, the list is reset. This was an unfortunate side-effect by the large amount of “code re-work and enhancements”. Hopefully this will not happen again in future updates.

New (first-time) Startup Experience

When the app first starts after you update it using the Marketplace app, you will need an Internet connection to download cover art and update network show details on first post update startup.

This is a new step, previously all network show information was hard-coded into the application but this is no longer the case. The advantage of this new process will allow TWiT network shows to be updated without releasing an entire app update to accomplish it.

New Feature & Changes

Now for the fun part, let’s talk about what’s new in TWiT 2.0:

–        Platform Update

  • Recompiled using newest developer SDK (7.1.1) to support Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango) for fast app switching
  • Enhancing the app experience using Windows Azure (which helped enable various features listed below)

–        Available Network Shows

  • Implemented changes that allow me to add/update/delete network shows without having to release app updates. Instead any changes will now be synced with your app’s local storage upon startup (assuming you have an Internet Connection available)
  • Added new Network Shows such as:
    • Game On!
    • Before You Buy
    • Tech History Today
  • Update various shows and cover art (Example: renamed “Mostly Photo” to its new name “TWiT Photo” with updated cover art)
  • Removed retired network shows such as “Abby’s Road”

–        Resuming Playback

  • In the Panorama when you are viewing shows that are in-progress, now instead of always resuming in Audio playback mode you will be prompted to select “Audio” or “Video” format.
    • The playback will then resume at the previously stopped time regardless of your choice

–        Network Show Screen

  • When viewing the details of a network show you will now see the show cover art / name at the top, followed by the most recent episode highlighted using an Accent Color bar to the left
  • A “Pin” button has been added allowing you to pin these selected network show to your home screen as a tile. Clicking on this tile from the home screen will start the app and go directly into the list of episodes for  that show

–        Episode Audio Playback (Hot! & Highly Requested Feature)

  • Background audio streaming added for all network shows, the audio will now continue to play even if you exit the app
    • Re-entering the app while a TWiT audio podcast is playing will re-enter the audio player. (You can still click back to see the recent episode list)
      • If a TWiT episode is in the background audio player but paused when you enter the app you will be prompted to resume the episode, you can choose not to do so
      • Note: Live audio is still not supported in background audio player, to listen you will have to stay in the app or leave it running in the background with the phone locked
        • Working on getting this implemented for background audio support

–        Episode Screen

  • Episode description text will now be much cleaner when viewing an episode details
  • For those who do not wish to use the built-in video player for TWiT Video playback can now open the Windows Phone video player instead by clicking on the appbar “…” menu and using the play button for external player
  • Instead of a custom integration with Twitter for sharing an episode with others, instead the share button will now use the Windows Phone share feature based on what you have configured in your phone. This will allow you to share with services such as Twitter, Facebook, etc.
  • The Video and/or Audio button will now be disabled if during the refresh of the episodes it was identified that one or both types of media from TWiT is unavailable.
    • This often happens with video, TWiT.tv often publishs Audio for the podcast before video is encoded. This change helps avoid users thinking that video playback should have worked when in reality the content was not yet available from TWiT.tv
  • When viewing an episode and if it has a featured image, that image is now used in the background of the episode screen to make it look “cooler”
  • When viewing an episode a new tab has been added to view the show comments
    • Note! TWiT.tv has disabled comments as of around April 2012, therefore and unfortunately this makes the new feature useless until the situation changes. I am waiting to see how TWiT.tv re-enables show comments in the future and will adjust accordingly or remove this feature

–        Live Calendar (Panorama Update)

  • Removed the panel showing you “live audio” graphic to begin playing live audio feed and a link to the web based TWiT.tv live calendar.
    • Instead you can always start live audio playback through the app bar “live” button, no matter what Panorama you’re on (just look under the app bar “…” menu if you don’t see it on a particular Panorama)
  • Added a Live Schedule panorama section that on request will load the TWiT.tv live calendar and displays it natively in the app without using a web browser. All upcoming show recordings are visible there as published by TWiT.TV
    • Note: This view is not cached in the app so it must be reloaded each time you start the app (I’ll improve on this in future releases)

–        Settings Screen

  • A “Clear Featured Image Cache” button has been added if you wish to manually remove all cached TWiT featured images
  • “About” pivot section added with detail on who created this app, the technology it uses and other useful information

–        Misc. Changes:

  • Various other Misc. bug fixes and UX improvements
  • On start-up the application will not automatically refresh the recent episode list if it was refreshed in the last 5 minutes

–        Fixes for known issues:

  • Video playback should now work again assuming you have a strong enough Internet connection and TWiT.tv makes the content available
  • Crashes caused by configuring your phone to use a language/region outside of “US-English” should now be fixed (Please report any crashes!)

Known Issues

The app is far from perfect but now that this large update has been completed I can move on to making more rapid mini-releases to address issues and add features.

For now here is a list of known issues I am working on resolving:

–        Upon start-up the application refresh message / loading indicator will vanish but the application will still feel laggy for a few seconds, especially if its loading recently played episode and/or favorite shows (the more you have in this category, the longer the screen will remain laggy)

–        Live Calendar sometimes does not show the cover art for an episode, instead it will just be a blank spot to the left of the date/time

–        When starting media playback there is a small lag between clicking the “audio” or “video” button and how long it takes the player to load

–        The Live Tile that show recent episodes still does not have many of the newer shows in it

–        Some people are reporting popping/static noises during live audio playback (not sure how to fix this at the moment)

–        Some Misc. UX issues with the audio/video player

Found an issue or have a suggestion? Email me! twitwp7@lyalin.com

What’s Next?

Beyond bug fixes I am excited to think about other new features/improvements that can be added, my current list of major items includes:

–        Background audio support for TWiT.tv Live audio stream

–        Live video integration (this dependents on TWiT.tv setting up a feed that WP7 can support, such as Smooth Streaming)

–        Ability to download a show episode (audio or video) for full offline playback

–        Using background agents when the phone is on WIFI + Power to do a download of the most recent episode(s) based on any of your shows marked as “Favorite”

  • Audio and/or video based on user preferences, along with an ability to disable this feature

–        Improved application performance; make the application as smooth as possible during navigation & interaction

–        Add some enhancements to the audio/video player such as a “Restart playback from start” button or “switch to audio/video” without re-starting the player experience

That’s it for now!

Got more ideas? Found a bug I don’t have listed? All your comments are welcome; email me at twitwp7@lyalin.com and thank you SO much for everyone’s support.

Those who encourage me with your comments, those who support the app directly by previous donations or by buying the paid version and the great folks at TWiT.tv are what make it all possible.

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