Archive for Software

PVSTAR+ for Android gives you YouTube in media player form

pvstarplus PVSTAR+ for Android gives you YouTube in media player form

Sure, the quality is awful and all that, but who here doesn’t ever go to YouTube to find music? I find myself doing it quite a bit, sometimes just to listen to some old pop songs for the laughs, but most often to listen to artists you don’t find anywhere else. Be it true cover songs or someone playing the Game of Thrones theme on a violin, YouTube is full of music you don’t get elsewhere, and I frankly prefer a lot of it to what comes out of the studios these days. Justin Bieber may have been discovered on YouTube, but I won’t hold that against it.

A very neat app for these situations is PVSTAR+ for Android. It allows you to create playlists of YouTube videos, and then play them using many of the same controls you get in a normal media player. It even supports background play, so you don’t have to keep the screen on. Using the app fully requires an internet connection, however there is a caching system in place for offline use. It’s not all there, unfortunately, as you have to play the videos for them to be cached, and even then I’ve had mixed results. The app also has a few quirks, like some videos simply failing to play without a good explanation, and the need to “catch up” when just switching back into the app from using background play/the screen being off (due to it switching video back on – there should be a delay on this in my opinion).

Despite a few issues, it does what it claims, and it does it pretty well. I’ve found myself using it more and more simply because of the convenience factor, as it’s much easier than downloading videos using video downloaders (which isn’t complicated, but takes time). The app is available in both a free ad-supported version and a $4.40 ad-free version.

pvstar qr 175x175 PVSTAR+ for Android gives you YouTube in media player form

Download: Google Play

VLC is coming to Android, really soon

vlc and VLC is coming to Android, really soonIt’s no secret that the VLC Media Player for Android has been in development for a long time, and now it seems official builds will finally be available to the public.

Same as VLC for Windows, OS X, and various Linux/Unix flavors, VLC for Android promises to play every audio and video format in every container… ever. For now hardware decoding is experimental, so one would need a fairly beefy device to do software decoding, especially for HD video formats. Contrary to its full-fledged-OS brethren, VLC for Android also features a media library and touch gesture controls, as expected from a portable application. Network video streaming is also supported, which comes in mighty handy when one wishes to have one’s whole movie collection in one’s hand.

My favorite Android video player, MX Player, just ditched DTS audio support due to licensing issues, and – to the best of my knowledge – no Android player so far supports newfangled Hi10P video. For these two issues alone I’m looking forward to VLC.

Until VLC arrives on the Google Play Store, here are official (unsupported) nightly builds, for the impatient.

UPDATE: VLC Mobile Team now officially made it to the Play Store.


How to auto-sync an MP3 player from an Android device using Tasker

So the Samsung Galaxy S III has an MP3 player as an accessory to let you take a smaller music player than your huge phone with you when you work out and things like that. Big whoop. In this article I’m going to show you how you can get any MSC enabled player to sync to practically any USB-host enabled Android device in a way that makes the S Pebble look like it’s not just the name that’s related to the stone age. With devices such as a the Sansa Clip series out there that are still amazing music players, this new role as an accessory to a smartphone/tablet might help the MP3 player market stay alive.

Continue reading…

JetAudio for Android is not what it used to be

jetaudio android no bbe JetAudio for Android is not what it used to be

There was some back and forth with the initial free version 1.0.1 of JetAudio on the Play Store – some people saw it in the store, others didn’t (not depending on hardware compatibility). We suspected it was some region-specific restriction Google or Cowon was pulling there.

It turns out, it might very well have been some legal issue between Cowon and BBE Sound Inc. instead. The updated free version 1.0.2 and the now available paid version of JetAudio do not feature BBE and BBE ViVA sound enhancements (read the article below for my gushing about how nice they sound). Being basically the main selling point of the application, this does come as a bit of a shock. There is no explanation about the removal on the Play Store, on Cowon’s JetAudio website, or anywhere else – BBE simply disappeared from the screenshots, and it isn’t mentioned in the changelogs either.

This is not the way to communicate, Cowon – we could really do with an explanation as to what is going on. As it is now, I would not be willing to pay EUR 1.50 for the player when it lacks its main feature over competing audio players. You should really fix your licensing issues (or whatever it is) with BBE and explain to your customers what is going on there.

[JetAudio Plus and JetAudio Basic on Google Play Store]

JetAudio Player rocks Android

jetaudio android JetAudio Player rocks Android

Good news for people who feel Cowon’s D3 and Z2 Android players being a bit overpriced and/or underpowered – now you can have their trademark BBE/Jetaudio sound enhancements on any old Android device.

JetAudio has been Cowon’s bundled Windows audio player/manager app for almost a decade now, and BBE recently released an audio player app for Apple’s iOS (which isn’t overly mature software yet). Fandroids, put on your smug faces – now you get the best of both worlds.

JetAudio for Android provides BBE and BBE ViVA sound tweaks to beef up any audio signal – some people (like me) tend to say they’re the best sounding ones of the bunch, surpassing competitors like DNSE, SRS, or X-Fi enhancements in audio quality. For bass boost there’s a button called ‘X-Bass’ on the player – not the usual BBE Mach3Bass, but it sounds basically the same. Furthermore there’s a 10-band EQ, a (nice sounding) stereo-enhancer/spatializer, a (crappy bathroom) reverb effect, and (horrible) automatic gain control, which messes up too quiet and too loud parts in audio tracks, as usual with these algorithms. Unfortunately JetAudio doesn’t seem to support Replaygain so far, which would be a much more sensible choice than AGC.

Besides the trademark sound enhancements, JetAudio is a quite extensive piece of software for an initial release. Next to tag browsing it features good old file/folder browsing, album art display works fine, the interface is intuitive enough, and people with swollen egos can post their bad taste in music directly to Facebook or Twitter from within the player (not sure if scrobbling is supported as well). Of course JetAudio claims to support gapless playback, like most other Android players – but same as all other players (except Rockbox and GoneMAD), it’s not really gapless and clicks between tracks. Its crossfade functionality works fine, though. For people with lopsided ears, there’s also audio pan/balance – I just wish that would be a global feature in the operating system, not app-dependent.

So far only a free version of JetAudio is available on the Market Play Store, with time-limited previews of some BBE sound enhancements. A full, paid version, should follow shortly.

[Google Play Store - thanks to NBT's Pocketables' Andreas for the tip!]

Rockbox 3.11 is released

rockbox400 Rockbox 3.11 is releasedFour months after version 3.10 Rockbox released a new stable one, 3.11.

Highlights of this version are USB support for the Sansa Clip+, Clip v2, and Fuze v2, as well as ‘stable’ status for the Sansa c200 v2 and MPIO HD300.

Many interface- and theme-related features made it into this release as well. Customization of the main menu list items, editable shortcuts in the main menu, 32 bit alpha transparency for icons and theme/WPS images. On the audio side of things, downmixing multichannel FLAC files to stereo is now supported.

Read the full changelog here: Rockbox 3.11 release notes – or download it right away: Rockbox 3.11 download

Update: Rockbox 3.11.2 maintenance release is out – this fixes some bugs with Sansa radio tuner chips and a boot freeze issue with the M:Robe 100.

ASUCI v2 shows the J3/S9/X7 from a new angle

(Warning: If you’re not immune to ear-hemorrhage-inducing pop music, you better turn down the volume on your speakers/headphones before starting the video.)

The Cowon J3 is far from being abandoned by the user interface modding community (and the S9 and X7 benefit from being compatible). Well known Korean UCI designer Asurada presents a teaser video of his newest creation, ASUCI v2.

Using 45 degree tilted interface elements would usually be just a gimmick, but Asurada obviously put a lot of thought into the design and usability of his theme. Next to ergonomic left-handed usage I especially like the increased length of the slider bar, allowing for more precise scrolling in a track. It seems to hit a quite sweet middle ground between a portrait- and a landscape-oriented interface.

[ASUCI v2 official site (Korean) via iAudiophile]

Hacked firmware available for the Samsung R0

R0 mod Hacked firmware available for the Samsung R0

It’s a dilemma one encounters with many a portable player: manufacturers design nice hardware, but the accompanying firmwares lack in features and/or usability.  The Samsung R0 is certainly not the player with the worst firmware out there, but Italian hacker Lorenz092 and his co-conspirators thought they could improve the user experience nevertheless.

Choosing the R0 as a modding target is certainly a smart move – the R0 is quite popular, has a nice aluminum housing with lots of tactile buttons, it is inexpensive – and it runs on Linux. Also, in the long run, modding its stock firmware might pave the way for a Rockbox port.

Currently, the modded firmware is at version 2.10 (based on official firmware 1.25). It features improved translations for several languages, removes the – for most people – annoying startup and shutdown sounds, changes the look of the battery status indicator, changes the key press time used for resetting the player, and – biggest of all – implements a Device Rescue Kit (DRK). This DRK feature basically means you can recover the player from being bricked, without having to sent it back to Samsung for fixing. Unbricking the player yourself sure beats paying money and waiting several weeks for it to return, methinks.

In future versions of his custom firmware Lorenz092 wants to implement a CPU downclocking feature, which might effectively double the R0′s battery life. Other planned features are integrating the player’s SD slot with its internal database, tweaking the sleep mode time, and several things more. This is getting very interesting.

Read the forum thread, or jump straight to the post containing the download link.

Cowon D3 Gets Android 2.3 Update

cowond3gingerbread1 Cowon D3 Gets Android 2.3 UpdateAfter a long time being held back by Android 2.1, the D3 recently got an upgrade to version 2.3, usually referred to as Gingerbread by the cool kids.

It should make the device faster, more responsive, and improve system stability. Of course Cowon also packed in some new functionality (sleep timer, plug-in codec support, search widget, VoIP) and fixed some bugs under the hood.

Proud D3 owners, head on over to Cowon Global to download the update and give your player a serious boost in usability.

Thanks to Copperface for the tip.

PowerAMP Now Plays Gapless and Does Other Stuff, Too

screenshots PowerAMP Now Plays Gapless and Does Other Stuff, TooPink Floyd fans, DJs, audiobook aficionados, and others – rejoice. After Rockbox, PowerAMP now appears to be the second audio player for Android that supports gapless playback. However, results seem to be mixed so far, not all Android devices appear to be truly gapless with PowerAMP yet.

Of course gapless playback isn’t the only update in the current build 369 of PowerAMP. Other highlights include crossfade between tracks, configurable fade in/out, CUE sheet support, tweaks for tag browsing, album art, equalizer settings, and several more. Read the full change log on PowerAMP’s official site.

Thanks to Hirudin for the tip. Via Android Police. Android Market download.