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Archive for January, 2011

APOD Viewer Pro and 1.1/1.2 changes

22 Jan

I pumped out three APOD submissions and realized I didn’t blog squat about it!  APOD Viewer Pro was released on Jan 12th.  This was the 1.1 version of the APOD Viewer app with major improvements, some exclusive to the paid version of the app.  I will be maintaining the free version of APOD Viewer at the same time.  The trial version of APOD viewer Pro is identical in capability to the free APOD Viewer.  The trial is unlimited.

Version 1.1 changes are as follows:

  • Using the http://www.acme.com/jef/apod/rss.xml instead of the official feed. This feed provided the description and image in a better way. The only issue with it is the descriptions sometimes do not come through and it only updates around 9am EST. Description icon will be disabled when descriptions are not loaded.
  • Added Previous/Next buttons to menu bar when viewing images.
  • Thumbnail images will now correct when they did not initially load.
  • Progress bar added to show download percent as it was downloading.
  • Pinch to zoom capability on images. The scale/position resets when switching images.
  • Added description of image with full browser capability within app accessible from the question mark on the menu bar.  This is disabled if there is no description downloaded.
  • Added favorites capability to bookmark your favorite images.  Click the ‘add image to favorites’ from the application bar menu to add the image to the favorites pivot off of the main page.  If saved, you can remove it by selecting ‘remove image from favorites’.
  • Live Tiles! Enabling this will schedule the pinned application tile to update with an image either one time or hourly. Updates occur around one hour after the user has left the application. So if you enter the app every 50 minutes it will never update! Three options to live tiles are:
    • Latest Image – Updates with the latest image from the APOD site.
    • Random Image – Updates with random images every hour. The image itself changes more then once per hour off of my site, but you can only schedule Live Tile changes to be once per hour.
    • User Specified Image – Although selectable from the settings page, you need to use the ‘Use as tile image’ option from the images application bar. Selecting it from the settings page will use either the latest image or the previous user selected image.
  • Paid version features:
    • Removes ads
    • Removes 4 image limit to favorites.
    • Unlocks the 25 image retention limit. Initially set to 100, but is user changeable.
    • Unlocks the Random and User Specified Live Tile capabilities.

 

Version 1.1 update was only released for the APOD Viewer Pro app.  I then made some additional changes for version 1.2 and updated both APOD Viewer and APOD Viewer Pro with it around Jan 19th.  Version 1.2 changes are:

  • Stability changes.  Images are cached with state storage.  This works fine with the large images as long as you don’t leave the app.  Viewing the browser then coming back to the system sometimes caused it to crash.  I now clear the state storage on exit.  To reduce duplicate downloads, I store the currently viewed image to isolated storage.  This is causing a delay of up to a few seconds, but this should be faster when the next WP7 update gets pushed out next month.
  • Changed how the cached images are loaded. These changes were done to reduce duplicate downloads as much as possible.  If you save all your images to the Picture hub it will never download those images from the internet again (unless connected to Zune desktop).  When viewing images it will now attempt to load the image in the following order:
    1. Temporary buffer (this always clears out when leaving the app)
    2. Pictures hub (will fail if connected to the Zune desktop)
    3. Isolated storage (only stores the last image viewed when leaving the app)
    4. Direct download from web server
  • Changed progress bar colors to have better contrast
  • Fixed ‘Share’ link, was loading as a blank page.
  • Corrected Live Tile scheduling. It appears to have been stacking the schedules with 1.1. This change stops the previous schedule and starts it again when leaving the app. Only noticeable if you changed say from Latest to Random. It would update with the Random, but the Latest schedule would kick in and overwrite the Random Tile.  This probably was causing many unnecessary live tile image downloads.

 

Whew!  I suggest keeping both apps on your phone.  Pin both apps and use the free version for the latest image tile update, then the paid version for the random or user specified tile update.

I am working on 1.3 now.  This will have Mirror site selections to download images from servers other the official APOD web server.  This should speed up downloads and failed download with people who are as far as possible from the APOD server.  I’ll post when that update is pushed out.

 
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