Website

Player FM 3.5 for Android: Enhanced search, discovery, series settings, and more

Constantly updating and improving the app has always been our goal, in accordance with your feedback and ideas. Thanks to all who have left suggestions and special thanks to the beta community for ongoing discussions about how to keep bringing the awesome. We’re pleased to announce a major version bump from v3.1 to v3.5, and here’s a rundown of features.

See it in a glance with unified search results

1000+ topics, 100,000+ series, and over 5 million playable episodes are now searchable from the same, universal, result screen! Using the new series carousels and topics dial, get what you’re looking for right away. In addition, you’ll get a row of results matching your own subscriptions, so it’s a quick way to jump to your favorite show.

Save time with autocomplete and search history

An initial tap on the search field will now show you a dropdown list of recent searches and the results will update as you type.

Explore over 100,000 series with the new Discover and Catalogue design

There’s a podcast or 10 for every occasion, making discovery a key challenge for any podcast app. Player FM has from day one focused on the discovery problem, providing an independent, open-source catalogue covering hundreds of niche topics. The Discover tab has been redesigned to make browsing a pleasure, whether you to find shows to subscribe to or episodes to play right now. As with the new search screen, you’ll see a unified screen per topic – explore related topics, series, and episodes in the one place. It’s the simplest and cleanest navigation model since the app launched.

Play Later is now in the cloud

Just like your subscriptions and favorites, your Play Later list is now saved in the cloud and also available on the web app at player.fm, so no need to worry about syncing your favorite Play Later episodes even when switching devices. That episode you save on your web browser at work will be downloaded on your next phone sync, ready for your trip home!

Binge all day with flexible download order

So you’ve just heard about this hot new show and you simply have to hear all episodes before sunset! Player already lets you set a custom download limit for this series to make sure you get a bunch of recent items. But you probably want to start from the start if it’s a “serial” storyline, a multi-part documentary, or a lecture series. In that case, the usual “get latest N episodes” setting won’t work for you. With Player FM 3.5, you can now optimise any series for binging with flexible downloading order. Set your new obsession to download “oldest unplayed” and cancel your weekend plans.

Be the first to hear it with custom notification settings

Now that you’re all caught up on that bingeworthy show, you’ll be super-excited to know when the next episode comes out. You now have the control to be notified for any series when is a new episode lands. This saves you time asking “is it there yet” and brings the content to you fast. Set this from the individual series screen and you can manage all your notifications from Settings.

Play it fast – or slow – every time

Player FM already has advanced audio to let you listen exactly how you want, with speed control, silence skipping, and intelligent volume boost shipping since v3.0. With today’s upgrade, you can now customise these settings per series. If your favorite podcaster happens to need a new microphone, add the noise reduction filter every time. If you’re a language learner, you could slow down foreign shows to 0.5x.

New languages

Discovery doesn’t stop at niche topics. Player FM is always adding new langauges to its catalogue and with this release, the entire app has been localised to Korean, Portuguese and Chinese. They join English, Spanish, Russian, Italian, French, German, and Japanese as languages which are fully supported by the apps and its catalogue and docs.

Below are some of the changes we’ve released since Player FM 3.0 in case you missed it…

  • Mini-player redesign.
  • Make your subscriptions public so others can see them on web and in the app and who knows? You’ll gain followers with the same interests as yours.
  • Sort your Play Later list by series and publish date.
  • Be aware of series with errors. A transparent fetch model indicates you when a series is failing to fetch or has been “closed” or “replaced”.
  • Check absolute dates in episode shownotes.
  • Be in control with your phone’s storage as the downloads screen now shows storage used and available play time.
  • Many new channels added and populated with interesting shows. You might want to check some of these out: https://player.fm/featured/filmmaking, https://player.fm/featured/comedian-interviews & https://player.fm/featured/the-blacklist

Be the first to receive future updates by becoming a Beta Tester and follow Player FM on Twitter and Facebook for further updates, tricks, and recommendations.

All new web navigation bar

Player FM’s toolbar has been updated with a top-row navigation bar to use the web app more efficiently. The first categories are your starred topics (if logged in) followed by the main topics.

Also, on the right most part of the web’s toolbar you will find “ALL TOPICS”. Clicking it will launch an overlay to browse all topics, podcasts by country, what’s trending and popular and lastly networks.

We hope that this helps you navigate easily within the web app and make it easier for you to locate your favorite podcasts.

Player FM Website Updates

Here are some recent tweaks to make episode browsing easier and bring in functionality that’s been on Android for a while now. Channels now have a floating control bar to put all actions together in one place, with each section upgraded.

Episodes may now be sorted by newest, oldest, shortest, longest and random (shuffle), as on the Android app:

This applies to series too; reverse sort is especially useful for audiobooks and TV show recaps. As well as catching up on a series from the start.

Back to the channel view, series sorting is now clearer and sorted by default to show latest updated series.

The new channel info view shows is where you’ll find ownership details, stats, and links to the channel in various formats. RSS is useful if you want to subscribe to your Player FM subscriptions channel on another platform (e.g. iOS).

And it’s all available on mobile web of course:

I hope you find these useful, whichever direction you want to browse in!

Website Update, May 2014

A website update today makes Player FM faster and easier to navigate. Let’s start with the desktop version …

Player FM Remix

The first thing eagle-eyed readers will notice is the new logo. Hope you like it :). Beyond that, what you can see is the new side menu, a simple list of categories and sub-categories. No more jumping through a cascading menu, cleaner to look at, and much simpler on touch devices.

The category in question is Science, and just like the old menu, you can dive into any specific topic. What’s new here is the episode list. Before, top-level categories were just categories; now they are much more like regular channels as they have their own playlist, an aggregation of all episodes in all channels. This new feature is possible for both top-level categories and sub-categories. I expect in the future it will become more intelligent and (at least, by default) filter episodes depending on popularity and relevance to the high-level topic. But for now, it’s one with the lot.

Got it? Now let’s go mobile …

Player FM Mobile Remix

The mobile website is now more app-y and easier to navigate. The previously – frankly buggy – top player is now fixed and the whole thing loads much faster.

There’s still work to do to incorporate logging in and search into the mobile app, and more performance improvements are coming.

Episode sorting, Advanced playback settings, Episode display upgrade (Player FM for Android)

I mentioned in the tablet upgrade post we’re presently in a “happiness tweaks” phase, and we’ve added several of these in the past couple of weeks.

These new features are now available at Google Play.

Sort episodes

Some people wanted to see episodes from the top first. This lets you listen to episodes on your phone just before the auto-download fairy whisks them away in favour of fresh ones. And some shows do actually make more sense in chronological order, e.g. fiction series.

With the new sort feature, you can not only reverse order, but sort by duration in either direction as well. A quick way to find the show matching your workout or commute.

Advanced playback settings

As with other media apps, there’s now an option to pause when you remove headphones. We took this a step further, and the app will also resume when you put the headphones back. It’s actually a neat way to quickly pause and resume, e.g. when you get to the front of the line in a store. Resuming will only work if you have an active Player FM notification, if Player FM was the last app to control playback, and of course you must have the option turned on.

The other setting applies to lock-screen and Bluetooth. A new option lets you skip 30 seconds within the current track using next/previous controls, instead of switching episodes. If you’re not listening to Player FM on Bluetooth, I highly recommend it. Being wireless is much more convenient when you’re mobile. And no more heroic un-tangling efforts!

Episode display

You’ll notice episode playlists have had a bit of a facelift. The progress bar is now thicker for episodes you’ve begun playing. We’ve kept it minimal for episodes you haven’t, because we like comparing episodes by length, but we don’t want the distraction of a thick bar for all episodes. Episodes you’ve finished playing are now faded. Remember, you can also hide these altogether from the overflow menu; and you can manually mark any episode as played anytime. As always, the current episode is shown in red.

Reminder: Lock-screen widget

I mentioned the new lock screen setting above, which is a good excuse to remind you Player FM has a separate lock-screen widget. That means if you’re running Android 4.2.1 or later, you can get a richer lock-screen interface. The widget ships with the Player FM app and here’s a tutorial explaining how to add lock-screen widgets like this.

And to go on a complete tangent, we’ve recently improved the regular widget’s design too.

Other news: Website login upgrade

In other news, the website has been upgraded for a smoother login and signup experience, based on a single popup dialogue instead of being bounced to and from a separate login screen.

Website update, Channel history, Faster topic updates

It’s not all Android around here. Big update on some other fronts today …

Website Design

First up, the website gets a fresh lick of paint.

Highlights:

  • The sidebars have been re-designed and are now more consistent in appearance.
  • Channel/topic views have also been re-designed.
  • Full-length topics side-menu is gone; it now opens when you hover the mouse over it (or touch it on mobiles).
  • Some extra tools when viewing the list of series in a channel. You can sort on several criteria and also clear them all in one click.

Channel view shown below:

Channel Archive

As I’ve said previously, Player FM has some wiki-like characteristics, and so it makes sense that you can track past edits to your channel. So there is now an archive feature allowing you to see series you previously unsubscribed from (it’s only active from today, so your archive starts as a fresh slate). Over the years, I’ve lost track of series I had to drop, sometimes just to save space, so I thought it would be pretty handy if I could go back and add them again. This new – and experimental! – feature makes it possible. You’ll see the archived list on the side of the channel – only if any archived series are present:

And then you’ll see the list, where you can easily add the series back:

Archived series are private — only the owner can see it — but maybe it will be an option to make it public at some stage. if there’s demand for it. You can also clear the archive with a single click.

Again, this is experimental and currently only the most recent 50 subscriptions are shown. (Clearing the archive will delete all past subscriptions, however.)

Subscription Dates

The other aspect of history is tracking when you added your current subscriptions. As of today, it’s now possible to see subscriptions dates when you look at the channel in series mode (by clicking the “ Series” button beside the channel). They are only shown when you sort by “Recently added to channel” since most of the time you probably don’t care much about that.

Unlike the archive feature, this is retrospective, so you’ll be able to see subscription dates from the time you began using Player FM. If you signed up before today, you’ll need to turn this feature on in Settings page. I’ll be turning it on for all users on July 1, 2013. I doubt anyone would mind those dates being shown, but in case you do, you can make your channel private by editing it. (Editing is now launched using the top-right pencil icon in your channel.)

Faster Updates to Featured Topics

A number of topics have been updated with more recent shows and there are now a few more topics too. But the more important thing is what you can’t see. A bunch of back-end updates mean Player FM researchers can now update topics directly on the site, whereas the previous process was script-based and meant topic updates were only happening once every month or two. It will soon be possible to update topics in real-time.

Part of this is based on controls to manage multiple channels and I hope to allow users to own multiple channels too. e.g. if you don’t like Player FM’s Baseball channel, you can just make your own version of it. More to come on that front!

As always, interested to know if these features would be useful to you. Any comments -> mike@player.fm, thanks!

A Change to Google Logins

I’ve made a small change to the login process for Google-connected accounts. It won’t have much impact, but here’s a little FAQ to explain what you might see if connecting with Google. I’ll also explain the technical details at the end of the FAQ.

I log into Player FM with Google. How does this change affect me?

If you’re currently logged in, it won’t affect you. It will only affect you the next time you log into Player FM.

When you next click the Google button to log into Player FM, you’ll be asked to authorize Player FM, like you were the first time you connected. This will only happen once and once you agree, everything is back to normal. You can keep logging in via Google.

I’m having problems logging in. Help!

I’ve done a lot of testing for this change, but if something goes wrong, please mail mike@player.fm.

I log into Player FM with Twitter. How does this change affect me?

It won’t affect you at all.

I log into Player FM with the “classic” username/password mechanism. How does this change affect me?

It won’t affect you at all.

What are the technical details?

Instead of connecting via openID, the Google button will now connect via OAuth. They are both pretty similar for this purpose, but oAuth has become more popular and more recommended lately. Firstly, it allows users to give fine-grained permissions. Secondly, OpenID is very much a web protocol these days; oAuth works better when connecting from other systems.

Sort It: Change Episode Sort Order

I received a mail this morning asking if Player FM can show episodes in reverse order, i.e., oldest to newest. Although I haven’t heard the request, and it’s not crossed my mind to do this, it immediately made sense. So I decided to build it.

How is this useful? Since Player FM automatically plays episodes continuously, from top-to-bottom, showing Oldest First allows a listener to catch up on old episodes in the order they came out.

In fact, for some shows, it’s really the only way to listen to them. I’m thinking primarily of fiction such as novel readings and bedtime stories, since they’re often produced in series.

Furthermore, there’s a huge trend in TV recap podcasts, which work through TV show episodes one at a time. If you want the skinny on a whole season of Mad Men, you probably want this new feature.

Move Quick: Keyboard Shortcuts Arrive on Player FM

Keyboard shortcuts are the web trend no-one knows about. Only in hushed circles will you learn that Twitter, Google, GitHub, and others are all working tirelessly to end world dependency on the mouse. Yes, it’s true. And if you visit Twitter right now and hit “?”, you too can learn how to browse, search, and compose without ever lifting your hands off your keyboard.

And now, Player FM lets you go mouse-free too. Hit “?” any time on any Player FM page to see the shortcuts you can use:

I should explain that seeking can be slow at times; since the website streams directly from publishers’ servers, it depends on their respective server setup how nicely it will respond to jumping around the track. Unfortunately, some servers need to load everything up until that point, so if you go forward 10 minutes, it will need to load 10 minutes of audio.

Also, you might wonder how next and previous work. What playlist do they move through? The playlist is the list of episodes the current episode first appeared in, as shown in the image below. If I start playing the Tim Burton episode, the next track will be the one below it and the previous track will be the one above it. This is even true if you navigate away from the Kermode page; the player remembers the most recent time you started any episode.

As you can see on the screenshot, this is still experimental and I’d love to hear from people who have suggestions for further shortcuts or anyone encountering difficulty with these, which might happen on certain international keyboards. Note that web app shortcuts should generally be just simple keys, not modifiers like ctrl, shift, alt, etc., to avoid conflicting with built-in browser and operating system shortcuts. And also the space bar (which would be the ideal choice for play/pause) is reserved for scrolling. I used this Wikipedia page to help ensure the keyboard shortcuts will work reasonably well across different layouts, but I can probably do more if there are any major issues with certain layouts.

Special thanks to Stuart Memo and others who participated in this Google Plus thread to help plan this feature.

Look Sharp: Better Replacement Images

Most podcasts have pretty good “album art” images…as with mobile apps, it’s the first impression and the way they often get discovered.

Unfortunately, some don’t.

In some cases, they never created an image in the first place. In other cases, they stuck with the default branding of their publishing system. And sometimes, they only check if it’s working in iTunes, which might have saved their old image years ago, so the publisher doesn’t actually realise the image in their feed is no longer working!

Whatever the case, it’s not so pretty when you see this:

So Player FM now allows for feed images to be overridden. If a feed doesn’t include an image, we can manually set it after searching for the image online. And if we can’t find the podcast’s official image, we’ll automatically add one with the right label:

We have a back-end tool to make it easy for Player FM’s researchers to quickly add replacement images, so we’ve now gone through all 2000 or so featured series and ensured they have good images, and will do so for non-featured images soon. Image overriding is only available to the researcher team for now, but as I work to wikify content, it will become available for more users.