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Thread: How do YOU use BeyondPod? Help shape future versions

  1. #1
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    Post How do YOU use BeyondPod? Help shape future versions

    A number of people have found that 3.0 doesn't work as well for them as 2.x used to. Others find that 3.0 works better or just as well (albeit with some different ways of achieving the same thing). Either way, we'd like to make future versions better still.

    To help with this, we'd like to get a better feel for how different people use BeyondPod, and let us know what works well and what could work better to help with your own usage pattern. We know that there are lots of ways to use the application, many of which we'd probably never thought of. If you have examples of things that work better in different versions or even different podcatchers, this is the place to mention them. It would also be informative to know what device and what OS version you have on your device.

    I'd like to keep this thread positive, and on-topic as a reference for development, so any issues or questions on how to do things or general gripes will be split off into separate threads and addressed there.

    We can't promise that we'll implement everything that you request, or do it in the particular way that you would like, but we would at least like to get a feel for how you like to use your podcatcher.


    Hopefully the thread will also serve as a resource for users looking for ideas on how to make existing versions of BeyondPod work better for them.

    So please contribute your use pattern (in a similar form to @skarkkai's post, which I have copied (and trimmed) from the original thread that sparked this idea.

    Thank you for your contributions.
    Julie
    Last edited by juwlz; 07-01-2012 at 02:53 AM. Reason: typo

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by skarkkai View Post
    Let me describe the way I've experienced the 3.0 UI so far:
    (Remainder is @skarkkai's post, but excluded from the quote for readability - Julie)

    1) I only use one category (the whole concept is a minor inconvenience for me), so I start from the "Feeds in science and technology" view.

    2) I choose the feed based on my current mood, and availability of new episodes. The UI supports this step poorly, because it shows only the number of episodes I've downloaded, rather than the number of new ones. Why would I care about episodes I'm done with already?

    3) I tap the feed I've chosen, and am shown the list of new episodes in it. Version 2.x used to explicitely show which ones I've downloaded and which not. Version 3.0 only shows which ones I can download, making it less easy to understand the state of each episode.

    4) I tap an episode. I'm taken into the Player view and the episode starts playing. This is all good.

    5) Eventually the episode is about to end, and I want to mark it as finished. There is no way to do that from this view that I can see! I have disabled the "skip to end" button, because I kept pressing it by mistake, a really major problem with my S2 and its narrow edges. Besides, conceptually I don't want to skip to end, I want to mark the episode finished, for which the obvious UI indicator is the blue dot.

    6) I go back to the feed's list of episodes by tapping Feed, and mark the episode as finished, thinking that will get it out of my face, like it did in 2.x.

    7) I click on another episode, but unlike with the first episode, I now am not taken to the player. I have no idea why, because I'm not aware of any playlist. Very annoying.

    8) I go to the player view, but still have no idea what's different from the first time.

    9) I go to the playlist, and realize BeyondPod has created me a playlist without ever telling me so. Very annoying.

    10) There are no controls visible for removing episodes from the playlist. By tapping and holding on an episode in the playlist, I find the menu option for removing it from the play, as well as for toggling its "finished" status. But there's no way to see if any given episode is finished or not.

    I think the crux of the problem is that BeyondPod insists on putting everything to a playlist, and making it hard to remove episodes from there. Notice that this problem didn't exist in 2.x.

    If I check "Automatic Playlist" I appear to only be getting a lot more episodes to the playlist.

  3. #3
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    I use SmartPlay and categories extensively. I'm using the HD version on ICS on a 7" tablet, so parts of this may not apply for many.

    I use one of the the two categories for each feed to select update rate (Daily, Weekly, Monthly). Almost all feeds download a single episode at a time, oldest first. The "single episode" setting means that there's only ever a single episode in my playlist from any one feed, which keeps things mixed up. I have it set to restart SmartPlay on downloads but keep the current episode at the head.

    I update Daily three times a day: just before I leave for work, then every eight hours after that.

    I update Weekly once a day, in the wee hours.

    I'd update Monthly once a week if BP could do that (I run daily builds, so the clock restarts), so I update it manually every few days, as I remember to.

    I use the other category for each feed as a SmartPlay scheduling category. Actually, my very first SmartPlay program entry is for the NPR hourly news updates. All other SmartPlay schedule entries are lots of episodes, oldest first. These categories are named First, Second, Third, etc...

    First contains shorts: feeds that are a minute or so: SciAm's 60-second stuff, Onion Radio News, etc.

    Second contains feeds that are up to half an hour: news and science updatey things, like Quirks&Quarks segments, NPR: On Science, NPR Topics: Music Interviews, Skeptoid, and the like.

    Third contains feeds that I keep up with that are up to an hour: Ask Me Another, Science Magazine, Nature, Science Talk, Science Times, QuackCast, Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me.

    Fourth contains feeds that I like but don't really need to listen to promptly: A Prairie Home Companion, RadioLab, Shakespeare's Restless World, Dan Carlin's Hardcore History.

    Fifth and Sixth contain feeds that are backstops, in case I consume everything in the earlier categories; they're feeds that I like less than the previous set.

    Sometimes I move a feed up or down one category; if I'm falling too far behind, I'll move something from Fourth to Third. If I hear too many episodes of a single feed I'm behind on, I'll push it back one. But in general, this is pretty stable, but it took awhile for me to arrive at this philosophy for scheduling.

    I have a long commute (over an hour each way), and I generally get into Third and sometimes Fourth each way. Right now (at work after a busy weekend) Fourth contains four hours of audio, and Third contains only a single half-hour episode that I'm partway through. On some weekends, when the yard needs mowing (that's three hours or more), I have exhausted my downloads. Perhaps there should be another setting for "What to do when SmartPlay runs dry?" (Nothing, Update feed, Update Category, Update all SmartPlay Feeds, Send "Play" Intent and don't catch it).
    Last edited by Dennis Rockwell; 07-02-2012 at 12:25 PM. Reason: Formatting...

  4. #4
    This should be interesting, seeing all the different approaches.

    I almost exclusively play from the SmartPlay list, set to rebuild automatically, and keep the current episode.

    I don't use categories for scheduling at all. Instead, the updates are done through Tasker sending an "Update SmartPlay" shortly before work, before lunch, right before leaving work, and another overnight (to make the before work one faster).

    I use various catagories to organize my SmartPlay, but the main ones are Queue (podcasts for which I'd like to listen to every episode, in order: Prairie Home Companion, BrainStuff, Freakonomics, Radiolab, various NPR things includeing the Story of the Day) and News (I don't care as much if I catch them all; play the most recent and work backwards from there: mostly just a custom NPR feed for a dozen categories). I also have a category called Old that's a bit of a hack; it has things that properly belong in Queue, but are very out of date (right now, Stuff you Missed in History Class). If I put them in Queue properly, I'd hear nothing but them.

    I start my SmartPlay with a folder of manually downloaded MP3s (synced to Dropbox, and usually empty, but convenient for one-offs), then the NPR Hourly News, then the most recent Funny (Dilbert and the Onion), then the oldest one in Old, then alternate between News (newest first) and Queue (oldest first) with 2-3 episodes of each a couple of times, before repeating everything.

    On the whole, it works. The one thing that's caused the most workarounds for me is my own attempt to prevent hearing too many episodes of a single podcast in a row. I think ideal would be a per-feed setting, limiting how many of that feed's episodes can go back-to-back in the SmartPlay playlist. I can hack that by only downloading one episode at a time, but I don't mind listening to more, as long as there are others in between. With a setting like that, I could move Old into Queue, where it belongs, deal with when Science Friday dumps a dozen episodes at once, etc.

    Another feature that could use work is duplicate handling across feeds. The one NPR news feed is a bit of a beast (http://www.npr.org/templates/rss/pod...%20Quick%20Mix) because when I had them as separate feeds, far too often a story would show up in more than one, so I'd hear it several times. I could always skip it, but that's a bit awkward.

    Finally, I find that during playback, I want one more button, akin to skarkkai's "mark as done". Sometimes I want to say I'm done forever with this episode (I've reached the end of the good bit, or it's boring), but sometimes I'm not in the mood for an episode now, but want to return to it next time it comes up in the list (Garrison Keillor is great, but you've got to be in the right mood). The compromise I've made is that the button on the UI is "Skip to End" (with the appropriate "Delete and Play Next" setting), and the Bluetooth forward is "Skip to Next". It works, but bluetooth is often a bit flaky/crashy (stupid Presto, getting me addicted and then causing trouble), so having a way to do either through the phone UI would be nice.

    For the most part, the new UI and the old work just as well for me, since I do a lot more listening than configuring, so I barely notice the difference.

  5. #5
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    I suppose I had better contribute my own pattern, or rather patterns, too.

    For updates, I have BP set up to update all feeds together, every few hours, using Mobile data for updates, but only downloading over WiFi (unless I choose to manually override this for a particular episode of something). I always download rather than stream whatever I want to listen to.

    I have my Feeds sorted most recent first (so it's easy to check what's been updated, although to be honest, I rarely look at the Feed view) and my local Episodes sorted oldest first, so that it's easy to play things in order from the Episode view if I want to - although again, I rarely do (especially now that Quick Play is available - see below).

    I have BP set to Delete and Play Next. However, some of my podcasts are BBC radio programmes which are only available for a limited time (typically 1 or 2 weeks) after their original transmissions, so to prevent accidental deletion of non-recoverable episodes, I lock those feeds and periodically use Episode cleanup to select and delete played episodes.

    I have 3 regular use patterns.

    General Driving - using a Smartplay list

    The first use case (my main one) is to listen to Podcasts whilst driving (2x 30 min commuting journeys most weekdays, plus one regular 90 minute journey and another 60 minute journey each week, plus whatever other driving I do). Each vehicle I drive has a phone mount, charger and either wired or Bluetooth connection to the car's stereo / speakers.

    For this use, it must be easy to just get in the car and go, without fiddling about selecting what to listen to, so I have a comprehensive SmartPlay list; this starts with all episodes in chronological order for the small number of sports (Wimbledon and F1) podcasts that I subscribe to, on the grounds that I'll want to listen to them as close to the events that they relate to as possible. In the cast majority of cases, that category will contain at most one episode. After that, all podcasts in chronological order from my Favourite Tech News Category. Again, I'm usually more-or-less up to date with these, so unless there's been a flurry of activity for special events, that's typically only one episode per feed, but may add up to a few different new episodes in the category. Next comes the Category that covers 3 podcasts for a radio series. The 3 podcasts are the daily episodes, an omnibus edition for the whole week's episodes in one, and an occasional supplementary web-only series that supplements the main story lines. Again, those get played in order, but (when I'm not driving) if I get more than a week behind I'll prune out either the daily episodes or the omnibus episodes, depending on what I've already listened to. Usually I do that from the playlist edit screen, but occasionally I'll go to the Episode view for the category and use Episode Cleanup. My SmartPlay list is set to Auto Rebuild, and often just these three categories will be all I hear in a typical week. However, given that I'll be driving, I also have a load of other rules tacked onto the end of my SmartPlay list, so that there's no danger of me ever having to interrupt my driving to choose something manually. Typically these take the form of "Play the most recent episode from Feed X", and are on my SmartPlay list in order of listening preference. Once in a while (while I'm NOT driving), I delete old / less interesting-looking episodes from these "miscellaneous" feeds so that I don't run out of storage space. If I ever hit the end of my play list, BP is set to rebuild the SmartPlay list, which would result in adding the next-most-recent episode of each of the miscellaneous feeds.

    I have my Custom Sleep Timeout set to 9999, 10, 30, and I like the fact that BeyondPod shows the episode times as played time / time left - I might be curious about how long it is since the podcast started, and it's useful to know how much longer there is left to play, but once an episode is playing I have never wanted to know how long it is in total and have to do mental arithmetic to find out how much time is left; Having the default at 9999 (play to end) means that I if the current podcast will finish just before I reach my destination, and I don't want to start another, I can easily tap on the Sleep timer icon (e.g. when waiting at a junction) to stop BP playing the first few minutes of the next episode on the playlist. For me, easy access to the sleep timer is one of the useful new features in 3.0

    Driving together - favourite joint podcast

    When my partner and I travel together, this is our opportunity to catch up with Simon Mayo and Mark Kermode's Film Reviews (aka Wittertainment). This podcast gets a Category all to itself. I used to start these by having AutoPlay set, and selecting the Category in the Episode view and tapping the first item. Since the introduction of Quick Play in 3.0.20, I now have a home screen widget set up to play the feed in date order.

    Bedtime - Sleep Timer

    After trying all sorts of sleep inducing apps and sounds, it finally dawned on me that I find that listening to speech is a good way for me to get to sleep. (I even tried using recordings of "background crowd" noises, but found myself straining to hear what people were actually saying!) So for this, I deliberately put some podcasts at the end of my SmartPlay list that are interesting enough to listen to for as long as I stay awake, but no big deal to miss when I fall asleep. Depending on how soon I think I'll fall asleep, I set the Sleep Timer to 10 or 30 minutes and manually pick one of those episodes from the Playlist (for this purpose, that's the quickest place for me to find a single suitable podcast, as I have BP to start up in Player View). I'll often restart an episode that I fell asleep to the night before, and start by rewinding (using the progress bar) to the point where I think I probably fell asleep. Of course, it doesn't really matter much whether or not I get it right, unless I remember hearing the start but not the end of an interesting topic of discussion.

    "Specials" (OK, I admit it, that's 4)
    I have my Downloads folder set up as a Virtual Feed, so that it's easy to download individual MP3s from the browser and listen to them in BeyondPod when something interesting catches my eye.

    Other features

    I have one or two feeds containing podcasts that I am happy to listen to at slightly faster than normal speeds, using Presto. However, due to some issues with Presto (e.g. making it difficult for BP to behave correctly when finished playing a podcast), I have set BP's option to bypass Presto unless the feed has a default speed that isn't 1x normal. That gives me normal service for the majority of my podcasts, but still allows me to use Presto (and put up with the issues) for the odd few where it's useful to me.

    Julie

  6. #6
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    I am using the 2.x phone version. I have a tablet but have not really used the tablet version. I used 3.x on the phone for a while and did finally adjust to the UI change and, although not perfect, do like it better than 2.x. However, similar to something I think @skarkkai' says in his post, I found the combined feed/episode list confusing and/or buggy in knowing what had actually been downloaded. I listen with a bluetooth headset or bluetooth stereo connection.

    I don't know about SmartPlay. I have my feeds categorized and like BP because categories is one thing I hadn't seen in the other catchers I tried. I will usually manually add a few episodes to the playlist from the list of all available episodes in a category. I suppose categories equate to my "mood". I liked in 3.x how easy it was to add/remove episodes from the playlist with the little toggle button.

    After listening to an episode I will usually delete it, although occasionally I will lock it and save it for a while. I don't let BP automatically delete anything, I do it manually.

    I rarely stream anything. I like having the feature available, but I use it just maybe 2% of the time.

    I have BP set to refresh the feeds every six hours and download new episodes over wifi only. I travel a lot and go in and out of different 1g/3g/secured wifi/open-access wifi coverage and so sometimes downloads fail, sometimes in mid-download. I understand BP has some sort of automatic retry, but episodes still slip through the cracks and don't get downloaded. I am fine with that, except the failed downloads seem easier to find and manually attend to in 2.x than 3.x. I also have some feeds that have minimal history, so if I don't catch the failed episode within a few days to re-download, it is no longer available.

    I am also a bit of a digital pack rat and download more material than I will probably ever listen to. Because of this, I move episodes off the SD Card to my computer to free up space until I can listen to them. I may also move off locked episodes to the computer. This seems to confuse BP 3.x more than 2.x and BP 3.x tells me I need to "download" it (i.e. that it has never been downloaded) whereas 2.x tells me i can "re-download" it. It is mainly frustration with this bug/feature that caused me to revert to 2.x.

    I do have some RSS feeds set up in BP. I'm not sure yet what my preferred way of reading RSS stuff is.

    I wish I could lock video in landscape, that it would continue playing if the screen is off, and that I could control it with my bluetooth headset. Unfortunately I understand these are limitations of BP calling the internal video player (I still have android 2.2 on the phone) and if I tell BP to use a better external player such as MX Player, there is no communication between the two apps of where a video stopped playing and where it should resume. There may be more progress on this now, but I wish it were more seamless. I'm not sure why external player's wouldn't provide an API that mimics the internal player.

    I do use the virtual folder feature to store and play play some video that isn't available as podcasts.

    That's all I can think of for now. I know it's hard both attracting novice and supporting advanced users.
    Last edited by Jazzman4x; 07-03-2012 at 10:16 PM.

  7. #7
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    I wish I could lock video in landscape, that it would continue playing if the screen is off,
    there is a setting to allow that.
    Nexus 4| The L Preview | BP evo

  8. #8
    I use Beyond Pod (with Presto!) mostly to listen to public radio podcast. This includes podcasts of specific programs with new "episodes" daily and weekly, and custom podcasts from NPR's Playlist. NPR's flash player in web browser lets users create their own playlist of specific stories or segments from All Things Considered, Morning Edition and other programs and then create a custom podcast feed (instead of listening to them in the web player). Because I end up with a large number (20-30) episodes in a given feed, Smart Play does not work well for me. Instead, I use Automatic Playlist to create a playlist from the feed (by playing the first episode).
    Public radio podcast feeds seem very susceptible to the same episode being downloaded more than once (with the prior download going to archived episodes) and to old episodes showing up in the feed days, weeks or months later. This can be annoying. I have used different podcast clients on my desktop (Replay AV, Winamp or iTunes) and they don't seem to have this problem; it appears unique to BeyondPod. I can appreciate that sometime the podcast publisher "tweaks" the episode and BeyondPod treats it as a new episode (the desktop podcast clients seem able to tell it's not new) but I can update a feed a second time, immediately after doing "mark all as read" to get rid of a bunch of old episodes and I get some more old episodes showing up (not necessarily the same ones as a minute before).
    I've gotten used to version 3.* and able to get it do what I want. Please don't change things again so I have to relearn the app again. Even if a new way seems better, there is something to be said for what's familiar.

  9. #9
    I don't use categories at all (list all as uncategorized). When I add a new feed, I also add it to my smart playlist in the position I want it, set it to play oldest first. The playlist is set to add new episodes every day at 4:30, I always download, never stream. When I leave work, I tap the widget (clear) and press play playlist and it starts with the first podcast in the list. It thus leaves the one I was last listening to and I pick that up again later when I get back down to it. I have it set to delete the episodes once they are finished playing.

    So, for me, it is just a rolling playlist, entirely hands off by me now that it is set up. I never get to the end of the playlist since new podcasts are being added all the time.

    I used to use the headphone controls to skip forward, but this no longer works with Jelly Bean, which insists on using that as a voice dial, with no way to override this, even with Headset Control apps.

    Edit to add: I never use the app to read text feeds.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by emacee1701 View Post
    Public radio podcast feeds seem very susceptible to the same episode being downloaded more than once (with the prior download going to archived episodes) and to old episodes showing up in the feed days, weeks or months later.
    I've moved the discussion on this to a new thread to keep this one on topic.

    Julie

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