For the past six months we’ve been working on something really big and, judging by the constant emails and tweets we get, it’s no secret what that something is. Today we’d like to talk a little about the upcoming release of Pocket Casts 4, on Android.
So what’s new in Pocket Casts 4?
- Completely redesigned, completely awesome, modern Android user interface.
- Tablet support. We’ve targeted Nexus 7 and 10, and it looks great on others too.
- Cross-device syncing of your subscriptions, playlists and play states on every Android device you own. We *love* this feature.
- Remote backup. You can now drop your phone in a toilet and not lose your podcasts. Buying a new phone and setting it up has never been easier.
- Actual smart dynamic playlists. Want a list of every unplayed, downloaded podcast? Right here. How about a list of video episodes that you haven’t downloaded yet? Easy. Manual playlists are here as well for the super picky among you.
- A lot more. But we’re not telling the rest until we release it.
We’re going to be shipping it on Wednesday the 27th of February and it will be a free update if you own version 3 on Google Play.
Version 4 for iOS will be out later this year (Hey! We’re a team of just three people. Give us a break!), and yes you’ll be able to sync between iOS and Android, finally bringing peace to the OS wars!
We think its the most powerful and beautiful way to listen to podcasts on any platform. We know you’ll love it and we can’t wait to get it into your hands.
Today we’re proud to announce our latest app Pocket Casts, for Android:
Which begs the obvious question: Have we gone mad, two Android apps in the space of a month? Have we abandoned iOS for greener pastures? The simple answer to which would be: no, we’ve always been mad, but we’re still committed to iOS development.
The longer answer is that currently we have two programmers at Shifty Jelly: Philip and Russell. Out of those two only one coded all our iOS apps, Russell. Philip focussed on the server side of things, which pretty much all of our apps rely on, and which has always been a full time job on it’s own. Since resigning from our full time jobs in September of 2010 Philip has been optimising the heck out of our servers, to ensure that each day he has less and less maintenance that he has to do on them. This frees him up to do some front-end development, which is something he’s always wanted to do. Combine that with his 10 years of experience in Java, and Androids rise in the mobile world, and you have a pretty good match. If you’ll endulge us a second, let’s rephrase it as a computer hardware analogy: in essence we’re a dual core machine, capable of working on iOS apps on one core, and Android apps on the other, while taking advantage of our design co-processor across both.
In many ways the Android side of things is still an experiment, a way of putting a toe into the water to see what happens. So far we’re pleased with the results, but it’s early days. We’re going to be writing a series of blog posts over the next few weeks about the experience, should be quite interesting!
So what can you expect from the Shifties over the next few months? Here’s our current plan:
- New version of Pocket Weather AU for iPhone (hopefully released to Apple today)
- New versions of Pocket Casts for iOS and Android (hint: we’re building a platform here, not a podcasting app as such…there’s a LOT more in the pipeline for Pocket Casts)
- New version of Pocket Weather AU HD for iPad
- New versions of our world weather apps
- New versions of Pocket Weather AU for Android to slowly build up the feature list to match the iPhones
- What, that’s not enough for you?
So let’s put aside the iPhone vs Android war, it’s pointless, both platforms have their merits and neither one is really superior to the other. It all depends on your preference, and having a choice is a good thing as far as we’re concerned. But more importantly, you can enjoy the benefits of Shifty Jelly on both…now isn’t that a load off your minds? Now go be good little boys and girls and buy up all our apps so we can eat for another week! No really…I’m hungry…
After a lot of hard work in Camp Shifty our new website is ready to roll: http://www.shiftyjelly.com.au/. Why not head over and check it out?
The next few weeks will see a refresh of a lot of our products, starting with Pocket Weather AU HD. Here’s a small sneak peak of the new tides area:
There are times in everyones lives, where you stand at a fork in the road, looking at two differing directions, and having to choose one. ShiftyJelly found itself at just such a point a month or so ago. We have been in the App Store now for two years, working on our apps in our ‘spare time’ while all working full time jobs. The problem is that we don’t really have spare time, that’s just a euphemism for time that we really want to be spending with our families, friends and having fun. Sure we’ve had fun doing this, but it was really starting to wear us down. The last few releases of our products have contained some fairly obvious bugs and it was getting harder and harder to maintain the motivation to open the laptop at 11pm at night and start coding. We are insanely passionate about quality, so this was really starting to get to us.
Introduction aside, we stood at a fork. In one direction was either selling or shutting down ShiftyJelly, in the other was resigning from our full time jobs and taking the leap into doing this full time. In truth there was only one option, but it was not an easy one. To those of you who think we sold out or were going to shut down, shame on you! We resigned our jobs, and it’s full steam ahead!
So what does this mean? Initially it means that we’ll be busy looking for office space, sorting out legal documents, registering various bits and pieces, so we’ll be distracted for a little while. Once the transition period is over though, it means that ShiftyJelly is about to bring it’s A game. No more late night rushed releases, no more cutting corners, just pure unadulterated awesomeness. If you’re one of our competitors, consider yourself on notice. If you’re one of the many companies we turned project work down for, we will now consider it. Best of all, if you’re one of the people that has purchased one of our applications, or supported us, we’re finally going to be able to devote 100% of our time and energy into making products that blow your mind. We’ll also be updating all of our existing products to finally make them what we’ve always wanted them to be, not just what we had time for them to be.
We’ll be keeping you up to date over the next few weeks as we make the transition, but for now we leave you with this teaser image. Who could that be in the shadows…
We’ve had a lot of email recently. Probably because some genius thought it would be a good idea to start putting email us buttons into all of our applications. While it has increased our workload a bit, we’d prefer that to people just getting frustrated, deleting our application then telling all their friends how bad it is. The emails vary from ones that are quite funny to ones that are quite angry. I’d estimate that 9 times out of 10 the answer is very simple, and people normally walk away (assuming that’s what you do after reading an email) very happy. It’s funny, sometimes it almost seems that people are happier to get a buggy application that you then fix (after they find the bug) than to receive a perfect, bug free application. In quite possibly the longest segue in ever, that’s what I want to talk about: Quality, Features and how shiftyjelly applications are made. Possibly unicorns and rainbows too, I haven’t decided.
Most people assume that we’re some large-ish corporation, which I’d like to put down to the amazing quality of our applications, and the fact that ‘shiftyjelly’ is a very serious business like company name. I can see the latest IBM board meeting: “Who did we outsource all our IT work this year Bob?”. “Why shiftyjelly Frank, who else? Dependable chaps the lot of them.”. In truth a typical day in the life of a shiftyjelly goes something like this (there are 3-4 of us btw, depending on who’s counting and how, you can read more about that here):
- Wake up
- Eat breakfast
- Go to our full time jobs (which have nothing to do with shiftjelly)
- Come home
- Eat dinner
- Be social
- Put the kids/wife/dogs to bed
- Decide whether to code like a mad monkey or just crash into bed
There’s a point here right? If you’re still reading my guess is that’s what you’re wondering. Well the point is this: we’re just 3-4 part timers working in the wee hours from our couches. It might sound more glamorous if I told you my couch is leather, but really, sometimes it’s just hard work. We make a little money, ’tis true. When split 3-4 ways it’s not a lot though, which you can probably guess by the fact that we still all work full time elsewhere. But we don’t do this for the money. If we did we would have been much better off working the graveyard shift at a service station (gas station for the Americans out there). It would pay more, and I hear the employee discounts are really awesome. No we do this because we love it. Not always, not every day, but we really do love it. Some days we hate it, we chase down excruciating painful bugs for hours on end, sometimes in circles. Some nights you end up giving up and just reverting all the changes you made (thank goodness for source control). But most times it just seems cool. We’re making applications that people use every day. Roofers, tradies, fishermen, office workers, cyclists…even grandma. We’re also motivated by our competitors, perhaps because we’re all alpha males, but every time one of them creeps above us in the charts the coding nights become more frantic, the features get more elaborate, the whole virtual office (we’re separated by many kilometres) hums. All this just for the pure fact that we refuse to be beaten.
So on to the point (yes I know I promised it paragraphs ago): we love you guys, we really do. We love hearing from you. It pains us that we cannot add features faster than we do, but we’re trying. Some days we feel like we’re working 2 jobs. So yes we’re upgrading all our apps to support that fancy new iPhone 4 display, yes we’ll keep adding features to our new iPad versions, yes we’ll never forget about the old iPhone apps, yes we’ll fix all those little annoying bugs that slip through our 2am testing…but it will take time. And until someone comes along and hands us a million dollars (I know, we’re cheap, right?) we’ll probably stay at our day jobs, and it will always take time.
In todays update we want to focus on some less sexy, but nonetheless very cool features. The main one is our new warnings system. Pocket Weather AU has always handled local warnings (by placing a red icon on the location which you could tap to get more details), but has been lacking in the state and regional warnings department. Well in 2.1 we aim to rectify that, behold the new state warnings screen:
A few quick things to note. You’ll get the state of your topmost location (or the location you’ve currently got selected) as the first one. From there you’ll notice that we have different icons for flood, wind, fire and general warnings. Let’s drill down into a cyclone warning:
Now here’s where it starts to get really cool. Philip (our back end magician) spent a lot of time reformatting all the Bureau of Meteorology warnings so that they would look great on your iPhone (which was no easy task), and they certainly do. So where some (like our competitors) would link you straight to the BOM Warnings page, we of course go the extra step and try to make the experience as painless as possible. We do that for normal warnings as well:
This feature has been a long time coming, and we intend to keep tweaking and improving it based on your feedback. We hope that people on the east coast, and those in rural areas really appreciate the level of effort that Philip has gone through to make this a reality. Finally it’s worth pointing out that you can choose to get the warnings for your state pushed to you, as soon as they are issued (or updated) by the BOM. Now if that’s not cool we don’t know what is
The other thing we’ve done with release 2.1 is really focus on all those little things that have been annoying us for ages. Here is one example: in the current version you’ve always been able to edit your location and give it a custom name, as well as choose custom information for it. This was always hidden, and I suspect 95% of people never knew it existed. So in 2.1 we expose this function straight from the add screen, by tapping the ‘Custom Location’ option:
From there you’ll get a screen letting you name your location, and picking all the individual attributes for it. This is for the hard core Bureau of Meteorology fans only, but we know you’re out there!
We could go one about all the various little bugs we’ve fixed (of which there are almost 30 according to our bug tracking system), but we don’t want to bore you with that. We’ll leave you with one final image. Typically when you’ve had problems with Pocket Weather (which are few and far between) you’d email us and we’d go through a process of elimination until we narrowed it down and fixed it for you. In the spirit of helping you out we’ve added a new feature straight to the iPhone app itself:
This gives you the option of attaching a debugging file that will help us get to the potential problem much faster
Pocket Weather AU 2.1, Slicker, Smoother, Easier, Better
Yesterday we talked about our exciting new product Time BOM, which if you haven’t bought yet you really should! Today we want to cover some features that will be in Pocket Weather 2.1. Version 2.1 has a lot of new things in it, and in this post we’ll cover the first half of them, being all visual.
First up is the new icon:
And of course there’s a new skin to go with it (we call it ‘Shiny’):
We’ve also cleaned up the way you navigate around pocket weather, after receiving so many emails from people who couldn’t find things in the application, we knew we had to do better. So when you click the button in the top right you now get this:
As long time Pocket Weather users will notice we’ve now given prominence to the tides, synoptic chart and national radars. We also have two new features on there: History & Warnings. We’ll talk about warnings in detail tomorrow, but today we’re proud to show you the history feature:
What it gives you is a history of weather conditions over the last 3-4 days, either in graph or table form. We think it’s very cool to be able to wow your friends with the knowledge that the highest temperature today was 35.6 at 2.30pm. We also know a lot of weather buffs will love expounding the profoundness of the occasions when apparent temperature is higher than air temperature
Tomorrow we’ll talk more about the zillions of bugs we’ve squished, and our new warnings section, but we hope this post gets you in the mood for Pocket Weather. We hope to release the new version this weekend!
Some people have commented that we’ve been quiet for a while now, and want to know what we’ve been up to. Well today we’d like to start filling you in. First cab off the rank is a brand new product:
Our latest submission to the app store is a thing of pure beauty. For a while now we’ve wanted something we could have running on our desks at work, that would show us weather information, as well as the time. We call it Time BOM and it’s going off! I think it speaks for itself:
It updates with the latest weather automatically, and also transitions between showing you the 6 day forecast and current conditions. It comes in two very unique and classy skins.
Another thing that we’re really proud is that there are no in app settings for anything you’d want to do day to day. Want to turn the seconds off? Simply tap on them to make them go away. Want to change between the current conditions and the forecast? Simply tap that area of the screen. Want to control the brightness? Simply tap and hold any area of the screen to get a brightness control. Want to change skins? Simply swipe left or right.
Of course for the obsessive, there are still settings inside the iPhones ‘Settings’ application, but they are for things you’ll only set once (like how often you want the application to update it’s weather).
One last thing to note: this application is not another skin for Pocket Weather AU. It’s an entirely new product that’s more of a desktop appliance than a weather application. We don’t intend to cram every single feature of Pocket Weather into this application, but rather to keep it light, elegant and useful. We intend to add an alarm clock feature, as well as new skins with some really funky ways of visualising the weather. As with Pocket Weather we intend to keep updating this application for many years to come.
So what are you waiting for, go and buy it!
p.s. Don’t worry Pocket Weather fans, we haven’t forgotten you, tomorrow we’ll discuss what’s new in Pocket Weather AU 2.1, followed by what’s new in Pocket Weather World 1.1. In the meantime, why not show us some lovin’ by buying Time BOM?
It’s the last day of the week (yay!) and the last update about the features coming in Pocket Weather AU 2.0. Today we cover some more mundane (but very important) tweaks:
- Tweaks to all of the skins, including skinning of the location list screen
- 3 new icons for heavy rain, fog and wind.
- Realtime UV support for some locations (from ARPANSA, more coming later)
- Radar updates improved to always get the most recent radars
- Option to disable rotation (eg: portrait only mode)
- Option to disable load on startup (useful for iPod touches)
- Many more bug fixes and server tweaks (there are literally too many to mention here, we re-wrote a large chunk of the code).
So what next you say? Rest we say! Then it’s straight on to the Pocket Weather World v1.1 upgrade!
Our designer also wants to completely overhaul Pocket Weather…but that’s a story for another day
Pocket Weather AU 2.0 was released to Apple in the wee hours of this morning (2am to be precise) so please excuse the spelling mistakes grammer-erratical errors in this post. On Tuesday we explained the new Radar features in v2.0, yesterday we talked about how adding locations will be different, so today to celebrate the apps release (to Apple that is, it’s not on the store just yet…) we’re going to unveil the big ticket feature for 2.0!
A picture speaks a thousand words…
Vanilla push push baby! Pocket Weather AU 2.0, your iPhone will love it