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glider

Control Point Software for iOS

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Hello,

 

I've been interested in network streaming for few years now, but have been constantly disappointed with the available control point apps for iOS. The hardware keeps getting better and better, but the software keeps lagging behind. Here's a summary of what I think is wrong:

 

Browsing
I shouldn't have to browse each media server in the layout presented by the server. This idea is an old one, from a time when a Palm Pilot was considered to be the ideal control point. We now have supercomputers in our pockets, but for some reason almost all of the software out there requires us to browse a directory layout, one folder at a time, to find a song to play. All of your connected music, from any number of media servers, should be fully indexed on the device for fast browsing, sorting and searching, and it should all be presented in a single, unified interface.

 

Continued Playback
When I exit the control point software to do something else on my phone (or to simply turn the screen off), playback of the queued up items should continue indefinitely. This sounds like a no-brainer, yet pretty much all of the software out there will stop playing when the current song is finished. Even worse, the lock screen controls are never available to show the current playback state. I don't believe you can have a good playback experience on a mobile device without this feature - it's just not possible. OpenHome can solve part of this problem, but only for a very limited number of devices. We need a generic solution for all devices.

 

Gapless Playback
This feature is limited to hardware devices that support it, but the majority of current apps ignore the feature entirely. I can't understand why, since the playback experience is so much better for those who own compatible devices.

 

Output Support and Switching
What if you own more than one network streamer from different hardware vendors, or some AirPlay or Chromecast devices in addition to your UPnP renderer? In many cases you would need to use a different control point for each type of renderer (If you can even find one that works for your source and renderer combination). This is crazy. I should be able to easily switch between all connected outputs (regardless of the streaming protocol), and maintain the current play queue and track position.

 

Local Music Playback
When I leave the house, I should be able to pick up playback where I left off. If I have the same library of music stored on my device (even if that music is stored in a lower quality format), I'd like to continue playback or be presented with the music I do have stored on the device to play something different. The interface should quickly and easily adapt to the change in connected sources, while maintaining a consistent experience. There's no reason I should have to use a different app for playback while I'm out and about. As a bonus, I should be able stream the music I have stored on my device to any external renderer.

 

So that's my short list of what I wish I could find in an iOS app, and I have to believe that many of the readers here would agree with some or all of these items.

After being continually disappointed with every app that I tried, I decided to do something about it. The result is a new iOS app called Glider Music Player that solves all of the above problems, and will hopefully do much more in the future.

 

I would really love to hear any and all feedback about the app, or just your opinions on the current state of control point software for iOS.

 

Thanks for listening!
 


Founder of Glider Audio

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It appears that it's free to download but does not offer unlimited playback in the free version. To get unlimited playback, you have to pony up $4.99 through an in-app purchase.


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Yes, the app is free to download and use, but the listening sessions are limited.

 

I've read many threads on this topic over the years that I figured readers here would be genuinely interested in the topic and the promise of a new product that solves these problems.

 

I totally understand if it's against the site rules to open a discussion like this.


Founder of Glider Audio

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Any plans for:

- supporting OpenHome?

- providing online streaming & cloud services?

- providing a contnuous audio stream from the playlist (via bit perfect audio capture from a built-in player) for renderers that don't support gapless?

- an Android version?

 


We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.

-- Jo Cox

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1 hour ago, glider said:

Yes, the app is free to download and use, but the listening sessions are limited.

 

I've read many threads on this topic over the years that I figured readers here would be genuinely interested in the topic and the promise of a new product that solves these problems.

 

I totally understand if it's against the site rules to open a discussion like this.

 

I'll let it go this time. Please send me a message before posting stuff that talks about your product like this. It usually turns out bad when members of the community suspect someone is spamming them :~)


Founder of Audiophile Style

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Thanks @The Computer Audiophile. I'm new to owning a product in this space, so I apologize if I stepped on any toes on the way in :)

 

@Cebolla 

 

OpenHome:

I would like to provide support for OpenHome. Which features in particular would you be most interested in seeing implemented? 

 

Streaming Services:

This is a tricky one for me. I would love to add a feature like this (Tidal being the obvious first choice), but only if I could do it in such a way that the user experience remains simple and intuitive. Designing an interface to expose your local library of music, the music found on any number of connected media servers, as well as the music available in any number of configured streaming services is quite a design challenge. I struggled solving just the first two, and the addition of the third will certainly multiply that complexity. That said, I do think it's possible and do hope to add some type of support for this in the future.

 

Continuous Audio Stream:

This is an interesting idea. Do you know of any mobile apps that implement this? I think it would be fairly straightforward for the formats supported by Core Audio, and a little more work for additional external formats like flac, but there would have to be some tradeoffs. This would put much more of a burden on the device itself to not only build, but also continue to serve the audio stream to the renderer, which will make the app less responsive to user input. This will be especially true with any lossless or high-res formats where those large files will first need to be downloaded to the device before being served to the renderer. I'm also not sure if this amount of work could be done while the app is backgrounded to fly under the radar of iOS killing the process.

 

Android:

If I see enough success with the iOS version, then I would be very interested in building an Android version.


Founder of Glider Audio

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Feedback:

 

I just downloaded the free version.

 

This is the first iOS control-point software I have tried that simply works with my Teac NT-503, including the volume control.

 

Any interest in creating a desktop version for OS X (Mac OS)?

 

I'd like the ability to put in a full network IP address to stream from a remote NAS that isn't on my local area network.  

 

Import of Apple music to the library works fine.  Sorting on album title should omit things like "A" and "The"

 

foobar has a good interface if you want to look to it for ideas.

 

Siri control of this thing could be very useful.

 

Purchasing advertisement and/or sponsoring a subforum here might be worth the investment. I imagine you potentially could have a lot of eager users giving valuable feedback, as the current options on iOS  are quite limited.

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I'm very happy to hear that! The sort bug will be fixed in the next version.

 

I do have interest in building an OS X version that also includes library management and a custom media server of sorts. This would give me the ability to transfer the library metadata to the app much faster and more efficiently than using the UPnP protocol.

 

Adding support for fixed IP addresses is something I'd be interested in adding. I don't have the need for this personally, so I'm hoping you can shed some light on why this is needed? I'm assuming you would expect this to work for both media servers and renderers?

 

I would love to add Siri support as well. Unfortunately, Apple limits Siri developers to a fixed set of domains, and to the surprise of many, music is not on the list: https://developer.apple.com/sirikit.

 

Thanks for the tip on advertising - I'll look into this.


Founder of Glider Audio

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On 6/27/2017 at 1:08 PM, glider said:

Adding support for fixed IP addresses is something I'd be interested in adding. I don't have the need for this personally, so I'm hoping you can shed some light on why this is needed? I'm assuming you would expect this to work for both media servers and renderers?

 

What I had in mind is serving from a NAS/computer at work, and using the static IP to connect from home (or elsewhere).  But I since discovered this can be done fairly readily using BubbleUNPnP on the remote computer, together with BubbleUPnPTetherClient on a local computer.

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On 6/27/2017 at 1:08 PM, glider said:

 

I'm very happy to hear that!

 

 

I may have spoke too soon.  The player plays a song until the end, but does not automatically advance to the next one.  (It works fine when playing to my ipad).

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On 27/06/2017 at 8:31 PM, glider said:

OpenHome:

I would like to provide support for OpenHome. Which features in particular would you be most interested in seeing implemented?

Just basic support for controlling an OpenHome streamer's playback of the current playlist. Also, support for the optional OpenHome Streaming Services (currently provides access to TIDAL & Qobuz) would be ideal.

 

Any support for OpenHome's other optional network services (eg internet radio via TuneIn and synchronised multiroom audio via Songcast) would of course be a huge bonus:

OpenHome Network Services

 

 

On 27/06/2017 at 8:31 PM, glider said:

Continuous Audio Stream:

This is an interesting idea. Do you know of any mobile apps that implement this?

Only on Android, eg BubbleUPnP, but they require you to root the device. The Hi-Fi Cast app can do similar for Chromecast Audios and doesn't require you to root the device.


We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.

-- Jo Cox

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On 7/1/2017 at 1:32 PM, Cebolla said:

basic support for controlling an OpenHome streamer's playback of the current playlist.

 

The latest version now supports streaming to OpenHome devices, and has been tested against an AURALiC Aries MINI and Lightning Server. If anyone has trouble streaming to a different OpenHome device, please let me know and we'll get it fixed up.


Founder of Glider Audio

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I've spent a bit of time on this with Joe and I have to say, this guy is dedicated and infinitely patient with morons like me.  This reminds me of the early days of Audirvana.  I've had a lot of fun with this.

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I run a few UPnP servers with different purposes. I would suggest the ability to select specific media servers only.

 

I also would like to see a function for any given number of random tracks from selected genres, artists, etc. On most control points you send some huge playlist to the renderer and activate random playback for that list. My suggestion is to create the random playlist automatically, considering the entire collection and the aforementioned filtering criteria.

 

I also run BubbleUPnP Server for OpenHome emulation, will test compatibility with Glider Music Player ASAP and let you know about it.

 

Cheers and take care!

 

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6 hours ago, wgscott said:

I've spent a bit of time on this with Joe and I have to say, this guy is dedicated and infinitely patient with morons like me.  This reminds me of the early days of Audirvana.  I've had a lot of fun with this.

 

Thanks! The patience has been mostly on your side :) 

 

5 hours ago, sedest said:

I run a few UPnP servers with different purposes. I would suggest the ability to select specific media servers only.

 

I have this use case as well, along with a related feature that would allow browsing music that's currently offline. I actually had both of these implemented at one point before releasing the app, but ultimately gave up due to the complexity of the user interface. The current focus is on building a native iPad version and fixing any device compatibility issues that come up, but after that this feature is high on the priority list.

 

5 hours ago, sedest said:

I also would like to see a function for any given number of random tracks from selected genres, artists, etc. On most control points you send some huge playlist to the renderer and activate random playback for that list. My suggestion is to create the random playlist automatically, considering the entire collection and the aforementioned filtering criteria.

 

 

I'm trying to imagine how this would work. Can you point me to an app that allows you to create a playlist like this?

 

5 hours ago, sedest said:

I also run BubbleUPnP Server for OpenHome emulation, will test compatibility with Glider Music Player ASAP and let you know about it.

 

Thanks! I really appreciate any feedback.


Founder of Glider Audio

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1 hour ago, glider said:

I'm trying to imagine how this would work. Can you point me to an app that allows you to create a playlist like this?

 

BubbleUPnP Android app can do that, but with no filtering criteria. In this case a given number of tracks will be randomly selected from the entire library.

 

This functionality is nested under "Virtual folder" as "Random tracks".

 

Screenshot_20170726-101823.png

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Got ya. Thanks for the screenshot.

 

Glider will actually do this now if you press the shuffle button on any top level screen (Library, Artists, Albums, etc.) The number of tracks selected is currently fixed at 100.


Founder of Glider Audio

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5 hours ago, glider said:

Got ya. Thanks for the screenshot.

 

Glider will actually do this now if you press the shuffle button on any top level screen (Library, Artists, Albums, etc.) The number of tracks selected is currently fixed at 100.

 

I've been assisting/hampering Joe with his development as well, partly because I love this ability to create random play queues based on Artists or a specific artist; genres or specific genre; composers or specific composer, etc. You can even re-shuffle the now playing queue, with the same criteria, whilst the current track plays.

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For now, I can report that it is working properly while controlling an OpenHome renderer provided by BubbleUPnP Server.

 

Oh, and by the way, the random track feature is amazing.

 

Somehow, the library is taking ages to sync with my MinimServer collection (84k tracks).

 

Keep up the good work!

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47 minutes ago, sedest said:

For now, I can report that it is working properly while controlling an OpenHome renderer provided by BubbleUPnP Server

 

I'm happy to hear that! Thanks for confirming.

 

54 minutes ago, sedest said:

Somehow, the library is taking ages to sync with my MinimServer collection (84k tracks).

 

My guess is that it's encountering an error and not actually continuing past a certain point. i'll follow up with you directly and we can take a closer look. 84k tracks is on the larger side of the libraries I've seen, but I know we can do better than 'ages' :)


Founder of Glider Audio

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I probably overreacted, sorry for the 'ages' expression. :)

 

I actually waited for the sync to finish and it is done by now. No errors reported.

 

One question: how to push an album to the renderer preserving the original track order?  All I can see is the random selector.

Photo Jul 26, 4 54 42 PM.png

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17 minutes ago, sedest said:

One question: how to push an album to the renderer preserving the original track order?  All I can see is the random selector.

 

 

Simply select the first track of the album.

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