Archive for April, 2010

Just Playlists 2.4.5—Open M3U Playlists from File Managers, Better Album Art Handling

Saturday, April 24th, 2010

The changes to this version of the program aren’t readily visible but are useful.  First, Just Playlists will be offered up as a program for opening M3U playlist files from Android file manager programs, such as the ASTRO and AndroZip file manager apps.  This means you can use these and other such apps to browse the contents of your microSD card for playlists.  When you find one and select it, you should be offered Just Playlists as an app that can open it.  The default music player is often offered as well, but if you choose it, you’ll be told that it can’t actually open playlist files.  This is a quirk in the way the default music player presents itself to Android as a player for all audio files, even if it can’t handle opening them.

The second update to Just Playlists is that it will now ask Android to scan new music files into the Android media database.  In the past, if you loaded a bunch of new music onto your microSD card and used Just Playlists to play them, you may not have seen the album art and tag information for the tracks displayed during playback.  That’s because it takes Android a while to find new music files and scan them for this information.  With the change to Just Playlists, if it is used to play a new file, it will ask Android to immediately scan the information and, once done, the album artwork and tag information will be refreshed to the Just Playlists main screen.  Thus, a new track may not have this information when it is first loaded, but the screen should refresh to show the information within a short time—the more new tracks you’ve put on your phone, the longer it’ll take.

As a handy side effect of this update, some of your tracks that never had their tag information properly displayed may now display correctly.  I had one track like this.  I believe the name of the track contains characters that confuse the default media scan by Android but that are not a problem for the scan when requested by Just Playlists.  Kind of cool.

I’m going off on a slightly different tack for the next feature addition to Just Playlists.  I’d really like to have the app handle audio streamed from the Internet.  The idea is that if you have a URL for an audio stream in an M3U playlist file, Just Playlists will open the URL and stream the audio from the website.  This would allow for you to create playlists of your favorite SHOUTcast streams, for instance.  Implementing audio streaming will probably be a bit complicated and will take some time.  So the next update beyond any bug fixes will probably be a while coming and will probably justify revving the program version to 3.x.x.  We’ll see what happens!

Just Playlists 2.3.1—Gestures for Playback Control, Layout Tweaks for High Resolution Screens

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

I’ve added gesture control to Just Playlists.  It can be turned on by going to “Preferences” and checking “Enable gestures.”  To use the gestures, just tap or swipe the main program screen within the album artwork area.  A tap will toggle playback—pausing playback if music is playing and starting playback if the music is paused.  A horizontal swipe across the screen from right to left will advance playback to the next track.  A horizontal swipe from left to right will take you back to the previous track in the playlist.  Swiping vertically up from bottom to top will open the “Choose a playlist…” screen and swiping vertically down from top to bottom will open the “Now playing” screen .  Note that these functions were available previously by using either on-screen buttons or the menu.  With gestures, you have a larger target area and don’t have to go into the menu.

Whenever you touch the screen to start a gesture, the artwork will flash gold until you finish the gesture by lifting your finger.  This is an indicator that the device has detected your gesture.

Note that Just Playlists will allow for swipes that don’t lie along precisely horizontal or vertical lines.  Up to 45 degrees away from the horizontal, a swipe is considered a horizontal gesture.  Beyond this, it is considered to be a vertical gesture.

The other change to the program was to better position the playlist name and song information on the main screen when in portrait orientation on devices with resolutions greater than 320×480.

For the next release, I hope to set things up such that Just Playlists will be offered up to open M3U playlist files if they are selected from within apps that allow for browsing the contents of the microSD card.  Also, when new music is loaded to the microSD card, the track tag information takes a while to be loaded by Android and may not show up in Just Playlists.  And, occasionally, the artwork may not show until the track is accessed by Just Playlists once and the program is restarted.  I should be able to adjust the program to detect this and add the tag information to the Android database of media information.