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Thread: Thoughts after a few days

  1. #1
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    Thoughts after a few days

    I've been trying to give myself a few days to use this and get used to it. I've found major UI upgrades to BeyondPod a bit frustrating in the past, but quickly came to like them a lot, so I'm trying to keep an open mind with this one.

    So far, I'm not a big fan of how this is organized. I use BeyondPod constantly, on my phone, and I don't use SmartPlay. I do have an algorithmic way of constructing my playlists, but the algorithm changes a lot depending on what's available, and unfortunately I don't like to listen to most of the things in my feeds (like I'll listen to maybe 1 in 4 Fresh Air interviews and very few of the reviews, I don't listen to any repeats, etc). As a result, playlist management is the biggest thing for me, and this change has made a lot of that harder.


    • While I do like the little feed icon in the playlist (easier to see if I accidentally put two episodes of the same thing back to back, etc), I'd like the playlist to take up the whole screen, or maybe have a smaller font size, so I can see more of the episode name. I'm not sure that having the icon is worth the screen real estate. In this same vein, the landscape version is the same width, in pixels, as the portrait version! Having the landscape mode take up the whole screen would likely be a good compromise in terms of seeing the full names.
    • The feed icons help a bit, but I do also miss the little color indicator that used to be on the left side of all playlist items.
    • It's a lot harder to see at a glance where I am in the playlist now that the only indicator of whether something has been played is the little bar under the feed icon. I really liked the use of greyed-out feeds, which told me at a glance how far I had gotten.
    • Once I figured out that you long-press to edit the playlist, I really did like the way the UI for that works, but (and I may be biased about this particular feature), I really miss the "select before current episode" feature. I tend to generate "rolling" playlists, so I'll put maybe 28 or so hours of content on there, then at the end of the day clear out however much I've listened to. Doing this by hand (especially since the played items are no longer greyed out) is annoying.
    • Related to the previous point - I rely on the "total length of playlist" duration marker at the top of the playlist. Unfortunately, that's been moved into the playlist pane and out of the header, so now I have to scroll to the top to look at it. I would prefer if it were in the header, so I could see it at a glance (I would also prefer if there were a way to configure it so that it calculates the total amount of time remaining in the playlist, not just the total length of the playlist - I'm mainly using it as an estimate of how much listening time I have until I need to start adding items to the queue).
    • I like how the "My Feeds" is now a side-panel, I think that was done well. I have two major issues with this. The first is the "What to Play" is taking up too much screen real estate. I don't know what that is and I'd rather it not be there at all. The second is the behavior of the pulldown menus - the way I intuitively would use them would be that clicking anywhere on the title toggles the pulldown, but as it is now if I want to collapse or expand the items, I have to hit a relatively small arrow on the side, otherwise it'll load some superfeed with all the items (which I never need or want to look at). These superfeeds are particularly unlikely to be useful for me because the new feed lists show very few items per screen, so it's hard to scroll through and see what I like.
    • As with the playlists, I again am missing the at-a-glance functionality that greying out feeds with unread items provided. Now the only indication that a feed has no unread items in it is the "N new!" notification, which is in a small font under the title.
    • I'm fairly neutral about the change in the feed item listing - I think the borders around the items are a bit of wasted space and I preferred the old way, but I can see the appeal of having more room for episode descriptions and the like. The big feature that I see missing here is the little toggle switch for marking something as read/unread. This was really useful for me, because as I said above, there are many feeds where I'm only listening to about 25% of the content or less - it's convenient for me to just mark all the stuff I'm never going to read as read by clicking the toggle. Now I have to navigate to the item, click the pulldown then select "Mark as Read", which really disrupts my workflow there.
    • As with the playlist and the feed list, I'm again missing the UI changes between read/unread items. The indicator of read/unread (a major difference between items!) is relegated to whether or not the "play" button is filled or unfilled! It's very hard to take this in at a glance the way that I could take in a change in the text or background color.
    • I'm also missing a lot of the bulk episode editing features. I can't find "episode cleanup" anywhere (very important for me since I am going to end up deleting large fractions of some feeds immediately!), nor the "mark all as read" feature. This last one is particularly important because I still get these occasional glitches with RSS feeds where suddently after re-loading them I have 400 unread items - maybe they change their RSS feed in some slight way that throws off BeyondPod or something, but I occasionally need to mark an entire feed as read, which would be remarkably tedious in this method. I'd actually really like a "smart mark as read" feature, where I can say, "Mark as ready anything older than X date" or maybe some other similar criteria.


    I also have some sort of bug to report - after updating to BeyondPod Evo, all of my feed sorting preferences have been reset to order my feeds by "played portion", and I'm not sure why. I can't find a way to globally reset this to what I want, so I have to go through them all one by one.

    Overall, I think the new UI is pretty, but I probably wouldn't want to use this for an extended period of time in its current form, as it is really not at all optimized for my use case.

  2. #2
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    Oh, I forgot to mention this yesterday, but I also use the speed controls a lot - over the years I've worked my way up to 3x speed (I could probably go higher in some cases, if it were supported), and I really like the new playback speed controls. As with everything, it takes some getting used to, but it seems more intuitive than the old ones.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaulG View Post
    • I'm fairly neutral about the change in the feed item listing - I think the borders around the items are a bit of wasted space and I preferred the old way, but I can see the appeal of having more room for episode descriptions and the like. The big feature that I see missing here is the little toggle switch for marking something as read/unread. This was really useful for me, because as I said above, there are many feeds where I'm only listening to about 25% of the content or less - it's convenient for me to just mark all the stuff I'm never going to read as read by clicking the toggle. Now I have to navigate to the item, click the pulldown then select "Mark as Read", which really disrupts my workflow there.
    I recently realized that this "mark as read" functionality has moved into a post-long-press context. That works fine for me, though it took me quite some time to figure that out.

  4. #4
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    Paul,

    Thank you for the detailed feedback - this is exactly what we need. You are bringing a lot of good points that reflect your usage patterns. As we were designing 4.0 , we wanted to step back and try to simplify many of the interactions (especially those used by majority of people). In this process we most had to cut some of the features that were relatively rarely used (like "select before current"). We decided to be aggressive on removing features and are relying heavily on BETA feedback to see what needs to be brought back.

    As far as "read/unread" this was a big issue with many users as they got confused to how read/unread applies to episodes (where played/un-played makes more sense). In 4.0 we left read/unread only for text only feeds and are using "played/un-played" for episodes (internally marking the episodes as "played" also marks it as "read"). What you refer to as "Mark All Read" is still available - it called "Mark All Played" and available from the overflow menu when you are looking at the "All Published" episodes of the feed that has episodes.

    Episode cleanup is done directly in the list of episodes via (long press and multi-slect).

    You are bringing a good point about not being able to easily distinguish played items in lists. We decided to use smaller clues (like the "hollow" play button) to make reduce the visual load (which is already quite heavy). If we get enough feedback that what we have is not enough, we can certainly make it more prominent.

    We will also start a new post on this forum that we can capture the implications of changes between 3.0 and 4.0 so people can transition easier (...for example if you used to do X, you can do it now this way...)

    Stefan

  5. #5
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    Cool. Good to know that my thoughts are helpful! After a few more days, I'm still not feeling super comfortable with the way BeyondPod is, but it's certainly getting better.

    The biggest consistent annoyance I've found has been the behavior of the playlist tray. The "swipe to close" behavior is interacting with the drag-rearrange handles so that when I go to swipe my playlist closed, about 25% of the time I end up moving a random episode up or down one position. My instinct is to click the "My feeds" button on the top left to bring my "feeds" into focus, but all this does is change what is going on in the background, behind the playlist. I don't see having the ability to toggle the "My Feeds" bar in the background of my playlist as being something I would ever want to do, so it seems like it should be a situation where the first press would change the focus away from the playlist, the second one does the normal toggling behavior.

    I realize now that the reason the playlist doesn't extend all the way over to the left in landscape mode is that by taking up half the screen you can have the playlist on the right and the "feeds list" on the left. While that looks nice enough, it's not something I can imagine ever needing - the two screens are more or less totally independent as far as I can tell, and there is no reason to ever have them up at the same time. If there were an option to have the actual feed on the left, that might be useful for constructing playlists (e.g. "Oh I didn't realize I already had two episodes of this in my playlist, I'll go to a different feed for some variety!"), but even that seems unlikely to be as useful as being able to see a longer version of the titles in the playlist (which has actually bitten me recently, as I generally intersperse audiobook chapters with podcasts, and my current playlist has a bunch of identical-looking items in it that all have the first 20-25 characters of the title of the book, whereas in the old beyondpod they also included the chapter number, and in fact today I was walking along and realized that one of the chapters had been mis-arranged, and I had to shift everything down one by one to adjust appropriately.)

  6. #6
    I'm finding the new UI quite confusing, but will persevere. I can't put into words what's causing me confusion though. Just I can't find where to do things like I used to.

  7. #7
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    I've had the same issue with accidentally moving episodes when closing the drawer. On larger phones in particular, the motion with the thumb tends to be a bit of an arc. It's something we're already aware of.

    In the meantime, it may help you to know that you can also close the drawer by hitting the back button or tapping on the part of screen not occupied by the drawer.

    We've also been discussing the width of the drawers, and we'll experiment to find a solution that works on all devices. (At first thought, choosing a width of 90% of the screen seems like a good idea, but that may look strange in landscape mode on a 10" tablet, for instance, so a little fine tuning may be required.)

    Julie

  8. #8
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    As I predicted in my first post here, I'm getting much more used to the 4.x version and liking it more.

    I also wanted to mention that the 4.0.13 version, which turns the playlist icons black and white and slightly greyed out after they've been played is working beautifully in terms of making it obvious where I am in the playlist. Beautiful and elegant solution, honestly.

  9. #9
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    Thanks Paul. - glad it is working better for you.
    Quite similar to like a pair of new leather shoes - nice and shiny but not quite comfortable yet. Our focus over the next month is to break it in.

    Stefan

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