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Podcast Fixes?

Any chance that the podcast activity can get some bug fixes. I have multiple apps based around the podcast activity. Over 40K current installs, but there are a lot of reviews about people who cant download episodes. The download fails when the screen turns off. Also, managing downloads is a large complaint, as well as pausing and coming back to the app and losing your place.

I know this may be a niche request, but the experience could be much better. I also just saw that my most downloaded app that was growing at 50+ a day is now losing a few a day because someone else has a smoother experience with a lot less bugs. 

If there is anything I can do on my end to make things cleaner I would love to hear some suggestions. 

Thanks for all the great work, despite the problems, these apps are something that never would have happened without andromo,
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Comments

  • You're not alone - I've made similar reports/suggestions.

    I've also had requests to have a date/time of the newest podcast episode. Perhaps as a subtitle in the dashboard for the activity? That would require the feeds to be retrieved in the background as the dashboard comes up, which could take some time, but if the user wasn't forced to wait for it to finish before they could do stuff, it might work.

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  • > The download fails when the screen turns off

    Hmmm... I have read about something like this happening on some devices with a version of the manufacturer's firmware that contains a bug in how they handle wifi locks. I have not seen it happen myself on any of our test devices; in my testing the download will complete even if the screen turns off. (In fact I re-tested this on the first gen Nexus 7 just now.)

    If you select Download and Play it will finish downloading but not play, since turning off the screen causes the activity to no longer have focus to begin playing (which is by design).

    > Also, managing downloads is a large complaint

    Yeah, episode management in general is something I'd like to improve at some point.

    > I also just saw that my most downloaded app that was growing at 50+ a day is now losing a few a day because someone else has a smoother experience with a lot less bugs

    Daily downloads can fluctuate a lot over time and a downward trend may be perfectly normal for this stage in the app's life. Without further data or user testimony I would caution against making any assumptions about the cause.

  • Hi @Lorne, thanks for the response. 

    Download fails, this is a problem I have experienced on my nexus 4, stock. I was also just speaking with a friend who uses one of my apps, who regularly streams podcasts. He said that at least once a week, streaming breaks, and the only way to fix it is to uninstall and reinstall the app, this is on a stock GS3. The most frequent negative reviews often also have to do with downloads. 

    I know I have mentioned episode management before, its not the end of the world. A great workaround would be able to specify a download folder, to make downloaded shows easier to find. I have gotten complaints about having to dig threw appdata folders to try and find there downloads. 

    I will admit I had a bit of a freak out when I saw my downloads went down. That app has had growth of about 50 installs every single day for 350 days until yesterday. I can also tell the competing app is using one of andromos competitors. I really like andromo, and even after looking into other services have continued to come back here. I also know the staff puts a lot of TLC into andromo and you want the best apps to come out of here.

    Sorry this turned into a ramble. I just want what you guys want, the best product we can possibly supply to our users. 
  • edited March 2014
    > He said that at least once a week, streaming breaks, and the only way to fix it is to uninstall and reinstall the app, this is on a stock GS3.

    There are some audio changes in the next Andromo update that might help, but the S3 streaming issue seems to be caused by underlying bugs in the firmware. Samsung has been having a lot of problems with their recent firmware updates on the S3 and S4, including the recent update to 4.3. There's also a problem with devices getting stuck on older firmware if an update fails to apply, which could delay getting fixes to propagate.

    Google also introduced some changes to how the audio behaves in various situations which has made some things that used to work fine not work so well any more. It can be really tricky to adapt the code to these changes without undermining the spider web of workarounds that have accumulated for problems on specific devices and older versions of Android.

    > The most frequent negative reviews often also have to do with downloads.

    Could you send me links to the apps so I could read the negative reviews? (My email: lorne at indigorose dot com)

    Now that we have 2.3.3 as a minimum I might switch to using DownloadManager to make the downloads more robust, for example they could be restarted automatically after reboots or external network failures.

    > A great workaround would be able to specify a download folder, to make downloaded shows easier to find.

    Thanks for the suggestion. Do you mean a user-specified location, or just a more visible folder location named something like "Podcasts" where the user is more likely to find the files?

    > I also know the staff puts a lot of TLC into andromo

    Thanks, we do try. Although with only 4 devs it can feel like a red queen's race sometimes. There are a lot of quirky devices out there and with the pace of change constantly happening to Android itself it's easy for big features to get pushed back more than we'd like.

  • Clearing the app data tends to fix problems, so a reinstall usually isn't necessary.
  • @lorne Thanks again, I will email you some links later. I do understand that devs biggest complaint with android is the myriads of devices. And each one has its own problems. I am also glad to hear that you have dropped support for older devices. For me, anything below 2.3.3 only makes up 1.08% of my installs. even 2.3.3 - 2.3.7 only makes up an additional 9%. I know I may be alone on this, but I personally would be for dropping support for anything below 4.0 if losing older devices meant making better apps.

    As far as a specified folder for downloads, either solution would be good with me. I dont know how easy it would be to add an option in the podcast activity saying where to download them to, or to give the user an option. Either would work I guess. So whatever would be easiest for you to implement is the one I would be in favor of.

    @thelyoak I asked the user with the GS3 to try clearing the data instead of reinstalling next time. I will report back once I know for sure, but I imagine you are right about that.  
  • I spent some time testing the podcast activity in different situations yesterday and was able to make a list of outstanding issues, including a reproducible issue with larger downloads failing to complete if you exit the activity. I've added them to my list of things to investigate further the next time I get to work on the podcast code.

    @tholyoak that suggestion about having the date/time of the newest
    episode on the dashboard is interesting. Some better way of indicating
    new episodes in the activity itself would be helpful as well.

    Thanks again for bringing these things to my attention. We don't have the same kind of access to the feedback you get from your users, so hearing reports from the front lines can be very helpful, we really do appreciate it.

  • edited March 2014
    @lorne, I saw that in the thread for the 4.0 update there were 2 new fixes:
    Fixed possible ANR if the MediaPlayer was reset while it is in the Preparing state.
    Fixed potential crash if the Audio service was restarted by the system after an ANR.
    Would it be a good idea to rebuild our apps if they use the podcast activity and are having stability issues? 
  • @happypizza it's a good idea to rebuild your apps when we release fixes that affect any of the activities your apps use. You might choose to wait a short while if you had just released a version and the new fixes are not a high priority for your users, or if you're concerned that your users would find the frequency of releases annoying, or if you just want to artificially delay the update a little bit to give your app a "bump" at a later date. However, it's generally a good idea to deploy fixes as soon as you are able to.
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