Player FM 2.0 for Android
Just ahead of Player FM’s appearance at Google IO this week, we’ve gone 2.0! The app’s been brewing away in the beta community for some months now and I’m glad it’s finally out there in the hands and ears of all users. The app is a major user-interface upgrade as well as several important new features; read on for details.
Recapping Player FM 1.0 to 1.5
Before detailing the new 2.0 features, let’s quickly recap the journey from 1.0 to 1.5.
Player FM 1.0 launched a year ago with some new ideas that got people’s interest, particularly the focus on discovery and cloud-syncing between web and app. But it arguably launched a couple months too early, leaving a lot of core podcatcher features for later. We’ve been working hard to fill those holes over the past year, while simultaneously improving the user-interface and server quality.
Those features now in the app include: Search (with full episode search as well as series); OPML import; saving play position and marking-as-played; downloading older episodes; multi-selection; tablet and Chromecast support; and various settings to fine-tune the experience.
And now we’re 2.0: First, user-interface
Feedback for Player FM’s overall structure has been positive, so we’ve retained the core structure, but the appearance of each screen is substantially modified and in some cases completely redesigned, as you’ll see in the following screenshots. Plus, new logo.
(or view the album)
We’ve also emphasised animations much more – you’ll notice play button animating while it’s playing and paused, and 3D flipping between series and episode mode. We won’t do animation “just because we can”, but where it helps to convey meaning, we’ll take full advantage of it.
A few user-interface features are worth noting here:
- Navigation Drawer (side menu). The dropdown is now exclusively for you to manage your own shows – that is, the shows among your subscriptions, the topics you’ve starred, and the episodes you’ve saved for later. Other sections, such as Downloads and Discover, are now in separate areas and reachable from the new side menu.
- Sliding Tabs. The shows dropdown menu may optionally be replaced with a sliding tabs interface. That’s actually the default for users with only a handful of favorite channels, and also on tablets.
- Full Screen Player. For easy control while moving around, there’s a new full screen player. It’s also where you’ll find the new playback-related features mentioned below. The full-screen player replaces the previous 2-row expansion mode for the mini player. It now expands to full height.
- Mini Player. The Element Formerly Known As the Permaplayer now takes on the more familiar form of a typical app mini-player, with a big, convenient, play/pause toggle on the bottom right and also showing the current episode title. An important feature here is the slider, which is now full screen width and always present. Not something music players typically need, but important for podcasts which may be an hour or longer and sometimes in need of skipping around.
- Episode Card View. Episodes may now be presented as graphical cards instead of the usual list view. We’re also planning a more text-based episode list view which will include some of the shownotes.
- Chromecast Improvements Chromecast now resumes after a disconnect and supports multiple devices controlling the stream at the same time.
More than looks: Introducing a playback speed control
Player FM’s goal is already to save you time reading, and now you can save time listening too with the new speed control. It’s perfectly possible to play some podcasts back at fast speeds, even double-speed or more, and still understand it. You can also slow down speech, to 0.5x, for language learning and podcast announcers who may have drunk too much coffee. BTW since people have asked me, no, it doesn’t sound like high-pitched chipmunks :). Just regular speech, but fast. You’ll find the new speed control in the full-screen player.
A common request in Player FM 1.x was a sleep timer and now it’s here. You can kick it off from the full-screen player and the mini player also includes the indication once it’s set. I never thought I’d be so happy to make an app that puts it’s users to sleep, but there it is.
On the bottom of the full-screen player is a new and novel feature we’ve added to help you control the continuous-playback experience. What’s Next shows you, well, what episode is next, but you can also tap on it to get more options. There you can toggle continuous-play on and off; but more interestingly, you can switch the current playlist. So if you start an episode in Play Later, that would be the current playlist. You can now switch the playlist from What’s Next and decide whether to play right away or play when the current episode has finished. What’s Next is where you’ll start to see more intelligent recommendations over time.
A separate section in the navigation drawer is play history, showing you episodes you’ve previously played and including those that are mid-play.