Posts Tagged ‘updates’

APODViewer7 2.3 released

01 Sep

A new update is available today, version 2.3.  I wanted to get this out earlier this month but the new ad rotator I added ( see previous blog post on multiple ad providers ) was giving me some odd stability issues. It magically corrected itself which was a bit unsettling.  I’m starting to think it was Google AdMob not serving the ads correctly up until recently.  If it starts acting up I can remotely kill the AdMob adds without an update.  The most significant change with this version is the automated slideshow.  You need to see this, its pretty cool just to let the images automatically go through random images you haven’t seen before.  I found myself just letting this run at work and looking at the details of images I found interesting.   On to the new features/changes:

  • Added an automated slideshow option from the main menu.  The slideshow picks random images, downloads them, and then picks a random zoom (1 or .5 vertical scale) and panning path to scan through the image. A menu is available when the screen is pressed.  Menu options are to go to the previous image, skip to the next, view the images details and description, or save to your favorites. As its showing the image, its actively downloading the next one in the background. This slideshow has settings available in the settings page which gives you the option to enable/disable the title bar, enable/disable the lock screen, and set the delay time for each image to either 5, 10, 20, or 30 seconds.
  • Live Tile now has a ‘Titles’ option that overlay’s the images title over the live tile image.  This will only work with the Latest image of the day or the Multi App Latest Image Left tile, for now.
  • Added Vimeo video identification and internal video playing.   Occasionally APOD would feature Vimeo videos.  Previous versions of APODViewer7 just returned an error saying it could not find an image.  Now it will show a video link much like the YouTube videos.  Currently there is no support by Vimeo to to play videos on WP7 in the web browser.  There is an app called Vimeo Viewer for WP7 by Max2 available ( the developer helped me through a Vimeo play problem I had, thanks Maxim! ) but there is no means to directly load Vimeo Viewer with a video from my app.  I implemented an internal Vimeo player to play these videos.  Its somewhat unstable due to how I attempt to load the video, but so far it seems to work well.  There is also a chance this could cease working completely, so I provided an option to attempt to load the vimeo web page in the web browser in hopes Vimeo eventually supports WP7.   As of today this does not work as vimeo does not support HTML5 in both the desktop and WP7 version of Internet Explorer 9.  Vimeo developers do state they are looking into, but its low on their priorities.  I read this they will not address it until WP7 gets significant market share.
  • Added a Random pivot from the main page.  These random images are pulled down from a list on my web server that tracks what random live tile images were shown.  This way if you want to see more detail on the random live tile from the start screen you can go to this pivot to find it quickly and view its details.
  • Added location services support.  This is purely for loading location specific ads for the free and trail versions.  You can enable/disable from the main menu.
  • Corrected YouTube identification on certain days that it was/will be featured.
  • Bug corrected that made the description text size extremely small.  This was only seen on the Mango beta build, but future release builds of Mango would of ran into this.
  • Added crash handling code that asks the user on the next start up to email the exception text to myself.  Hopefully this can help me nail down those rare bugs I cant reproduce in my enviroments.


I plan to take advantage of Mango’s new live tile features, but that may be put on hold until a good portion of the user base has been upgraded to Mango.  Once I update APODViewer7 with Mango features I can no longer update pre-Mango version.  Hopefully carriers will upgrade their user base to Mango ASAP but this is unlikely based on the current pattern of Android and WP7 updates.

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APODViewer7 2.0 Released

21 Mar

Whoa daddy I worked a lot on this update.  I’ve been working on this since mid-February on my free time.  This is a huge leap in features, performance, and stability then any prior release.  This was a major enough update I felt it deserved to be the 2.0 version.  The name was also changed to ‘APODViewer7’ to distinguish it from similar applications on other marketplaces.

The biggest changes was the addition of viewing the full APOD archive.  You can go back, month by month or to a specific month, to June 1995 when APOD posted its first image.  That’s over 5,400 images!   Searching was also added to do complete APOD text search’s of the title and description. Here are some screenshots of the main page from the pro version:

SplashScreenImagePro_Crescent 123

The new splash page is show in the first image. Note in the second image the removed alternating colors compared to previous versions.  It was failing to alternate in some cases in the previous version.  More importantly, this looks more ‘Metro’ and saves power for the AMOLED users.  The date is also shown with the title.  The third shot is the same page but with the settings set to ‘Thumbnails only’.  I personally like this mode, makes picking more interesting images quicker.  The forth shot shows the search pivot.  Viewing the image hasn’t changed much, other then some application bar changes noted below.

Complete changes are as follows:

  • Renamed app from ‘APOD Viewer’ to ‘APODViewer7’ to distinguish it better from other APOD apps on other platforms out there.
  • Removed all feature restrictions from the free/trial modes, other than the Ads.
  • Full archive viewing. Browsing done month by month, either incrementing/decrementing or selecting a specific month/year. Limited to June 1995 to present month.
  • Dropped the usage of the RSS feed. The app will now automatically determine date changes and create the new URL. APOD uses a very obvious pattern on URL links so this works great.
  • Added Search pivot. This allows search of all the titles and description text. It only returns a max of 200 items. It’s a bit sluggish when a lot of returns come back. I plan to make this perform better in the next update.
  • The ‘Random Image Hourly’ Live Tile pulls from separate images on both the free and Pro version of the app.  This way you should never see the same image when using the same Live Tile across both apps.
  • When viewing the detailed images and pressing the Next or Previous buttons it will now go through the appropriate list, be it the currently viewed month, search results, or favorites.  Previously it would only shift through the latest images.
  • Cached all prior months’ data into the app from Feb 2011 to June 1995, except for the thumbnail image data. When viewing previous months all that’s needed to download is the image itself, all other image data is loaded locally.
  • Background downloading of images when viewing your initial image. You should see a progress bar on the first image, but the next selection loads instantly if given enough time (usually 1 or 2 seconds). It downloads the 2 next dates immediately before and after it. This way when hitting the Next/Back button, the image instantly loads.
  • Added Thumbnail only viewing from the main page using a Wrap Panel.
  • Main page now handles landscape viewing. The Thumbnails Wrap Panel views 5 thumbnails from left to right in landscape, 4 in portrait.
  • Removed alternating background colors in list box’s. The reason for this is the way I add new images to the list the alternating colors occasionally do not alternate correctly. Added bonus, AMOLED screens show more black, saving power.
  • Removed the ‘buy astronomy products’ link.  The experiment is over. For the curious, I didn’t sell one item.  It was pretty hard to view and navigate from that web page, it was not setup for mobile viewing.
  • Removed the ‘update’ nag prompt from the free version. The Paid version will still bug you, but only once every month.
  • Added GIF viewing including support for animated GIFs.  You cannot save GIF images to the Picture Hub.  They also do not preload into the cache, they are downloaded every time you go to view it.
  • Added a Waiting animation in the thumbnail area if it’s currently being downloaded.
  • Scaled and fit the thumbnails into 100×100 images.
  • Changed ‘Reload Image’ menu item to two items, ‘Reload Image (std res)’ and ‘Reload Image (high res). This will force the page download to show the specific image resolution regardless of what was loaded before. Makes the ‘Show high res’ in the settings less useful, but I left it there in case some people insist on it especially if they auto save the images on view.
  • Setting to load either the most current month or the last month viewed on application startup.
  • Haptic feedback on all buttons. This can be disabled in the settings.
  • Changed some of the mirror sites. Some of them appeared to not have been updated in quite some time. The only mirrors that made the cut are Russia, United Kingdom, and Italy. I would prefer to have more, but the other sites either are not updating or reformat how the images are stored in way that’s unique.
  • Separate Random Image live tile images for the free and paid/trial version. This way selecting Random on both apps will not duplicate the image.
  • Removed picture hub limit, made obsolete from recent changes.
  • Better thumbnail image downloads and recovery. If using a mirror and it fails, it will reattempt back to the NASA server. If it fails and shows the default thumbnail, it will reattempt the thumbnail download again on the next time that month/year is reloaded.
  • Added a default video thumbnail image for days where a YouTube link is present.

APOD Viewer 1.4

06 Feb

Version 1.4 was approved for both the paid and free versions of APOD Viewer.  Changes are:

  • Added Multi App Live Tile. This option to the Live Tiles spans the latest APOD image across both the APOD Viewer Pro and the APOD Viewer app.  To do this you pin the ‘APOD Viewer Pro’ to the left, then ‘APOD Viewer’ to the immediate right of it.  Set both apps to ‘Multi App Latest Image’.  Within an hour each tile combines to form the complete APOD image of the day.  Much like Voltron.   :D   This option is available in both apps be it free or trial, so all users will be able to do this. For example, the initial pinned images look like so:


      When the tiles update they will look like:


      Pretty cool eh?  Thanks to Frankie for the suggestion!

  • Handled failed Thumbnail image downloads to revert to a default thumbnail image.  I haven’t seen it happen except for video links on their first day has not thumbnail associated to it.  Image links using the default thumbnail will have a correction attempted at the next app start up.
  • Added ‘buy astronomy products’ link to the main page.  This is just an website Amazon store that I put up showing Astronomy books, magazines, Telescopes, and Binoculars.  This is just an experiment, I may remove this in a future update.
  • Increased Favorites limit for free/trial versions to 8
  • Removed locked Picture Buffer Limit for free/trial.  This is not working as intended, it may be removed in a future release.

APOD Viewer 1.3 changes

02 Feb

APOD viewer 1.3 is now available for download/update.  The 1.3 version of APOD Viewer Pro got denied over the testers misunderstanding of how some functionality work.  I resubmitted it unchanged with some comments regarding this, so hopefully it’ll be approved before the end of the week.  Changes are as follows:

  • Reverted back to the official APOD RSS feed. The previous one usually did not load the description and more importantly started to fail to load the images and titles correctly. This was due to the APOD site reformatting their html code. Fortunately the 1.2 version recovers from the image download location.  Once you upgrade to 1.3 the titles and descriptions will be corrected. Added bonus, the latest image will now change around 12am EST instead of around 9am EST.
  • Added Mirror option in settings. By default the NASA site is selected, but if another country is chosen all thumbnails and images will attempt to be downloaded from there. Should the mirror site fail to download, it will attempt to download from the NASA site.  This will be most useful to people outside of North America.  Some people reported that the NASA servers would refuse to download at all on some days, so this option gives you download alternatives.  I wanted to add more mirrors but the ones that are in the list (Australia, UK, Romania, Russia, Italy) were the only ones that worked with all of the image types (thumbnails, standard res, largest res). 
  • Thumbnail images are now threaded differently. Before the list of thumbnails would always download in the background, then update the viewable image if necessary. It will now only download thumbnails if it has not been downloaded before. The mirror will only be used in this case, so if it fails it will not update. Should this happen, select another mirror and restart the app.
  • Live Tile updates will now eliminate the application name overlay.  So the tile will be the image and nothing else.  This was requested in a few comments, I think it looks a bit nicer too.
  • Performance changes with the image caching.  There shouldn’t be as much of a delay when viewing an image and going to the website or hitting the Share button.
  • Added YouTube links when the APOD image was actually a YouTube link. Pressing the ‘Start video’ button will bring you directly into the YouTube vid.

WootTracker7 1.3 submitted

30 Oct

I submitted a new update today, version 1.3.  You should see the update in a few days.  Changes are as follows:

  • Added Deals.Woot site to the pivot!  The behavior of this page is different from the rest as its just a list of items and a small thumbnail.  On list item press, it will load show the items full description in the browser.   The data feed was a bit more limited then the other sites, what I did was about all I can possibly do with the data.  This page will not show up on the trial version, just the paid.  Blog, Discussion, and Share menu options do not work for the Deals.Woot pivot.
  • On restore from tombstoning I changed the pivot to immediately show the last pivot loaded.  Before it would always show the Woot pivot, then jump to the last pivot the user was at.
  • Corrected a bug with podcast pausing.  It would start the podcast from the start after pressing the play button again.  It will now continue properly after pausing. 
  • Changed order of data thread delays based on last pivot viewed.  Before the threads delayed based on order from the woot pivot by increments of 2 seconds.  This prevented all the threads from pulling data simultaneously.  However, if you say last viewed Sellout.Woot and loaded the app it would take over 8 seconds before that page loaded.  Now the delays are based on what page you last loaded, so Sellout.Woot in this scenario should load almost immediately (if you have a good data connection).

Still working on Notifications.  The delay is mostly do to infrastructure.  I have to get a service running externally to WP7 on a server.  I plan to have it up and running at some point next month.


First WootOff since Marketplace deployment!

20 Oct

Today is the first day my app has gone through a WootOff after its deployment onto the Windows Phone Marketplace.  I’ve only tested against one WootOff back in September, so I’ve been anticipating this.  So far so good.  A few issues however:

  • The RSS feed I pull data from appears slow.  It doesnt seem in sync with the web site.  This is unusual, from what I’ve seen the RSS feed is usually a few seconds ahead of the main site.  I’m keeping an eye on it, hopefully its not a problem on my end.
  • The Alerts pop ups for the sold out percentages is firing off to often.  The idea was that if your settings are at 20%, and the sold off percentage goes from 50% to 19%, it shows an alert.  It should not show another percentage alert until it hits or passes 10%.  And so on with 5% and 1%.  Now it spams you once it hits your settings threshold.  I am sorry about this, my next update will correct this.  So for now set your percentage tolerance to ‘None’ or 1% so you don’t get super annoyed by it.


Also I changed the app to shut off pivot pages based on what sites are enabled/disabled in the settings.  That will also make it in the next update.