Working on Radioplayer with Ford SYNC AppLink

Radioplayer Ford EcoSportLast month I traveled to the HQ of Ford Europe to work with Radioplayer and Create Soho on a video shoot of a product we’ve been working on at All In Media.

At work I’ve been shouting into a black box that sits on my desk, and resembles something like the dashboard in a Ford car (like the one in the photo).

Together with Iain, our developer in Leeds, we’ve been working on getting the Android Radioplayer app working with the Ford SYNC system, so that drivers can control it without looking at their mobile phones.

The app allows drivers to use voice commands like ‘Favourites’ and ‘Recommended’, which will scan through trending and recommend stations and help users discover new stations around them. The commands on the steering wheel and central column emulate a ‘normal’ radio experience, which should feel familiar to most people.

It’s been really exciting working on this project, as it’s something a bit different and I don’t think AIM has done something like this before. It’s also had some trying times; like when the test unit doesn’t like the sound of my voice or simply wants to do something else other than what I want it to!

Today at the Go Digital Conference, Michael Hill (UK Radioplayer Managing Director) demonstrated the app with the video below. During the shoot I assisted with the technical setup of the phone and the connecting it to the Ford SYNC system in the new Ford EcoSport.

You can find out more about Radioplayer at their website, www.radioplayer.co.uk

What WordPress 3.8 “Parker” Means For Radio

The new way in which WordPress develops means that they’re moving at a good pace, and today WordPress 3.8 was released.

Codenamed “Parker”, after Charlie Parker, this version brings mainly visual changes to the backend, as well as the usual security updates WP is well known for.

Here, I’m going to go through the main changes and what they mean for radio stations that use the platform for their website.

WordPress 3.8 - SidebarThe ‘Fresh Look’

Gone are overbearing gradients and dozens of shades of grey — bring on a bigger, bolder, more colorful design! – WordPress

They’re right! Parker brings the flatness that we’re getting used to in Apple’s latest iOS to the world of WordPress. The admin bar and menu in the backend are flat and a single colour, which a contrast to highlight the current item you’re on.

Alongside the use of the Open Sans font and simplified icons, it gives the tired looking UI and breath of fresh air. It really does feel like it’s been dragged, kicking and screaming to the middle of the 21st Century.

And for radio stations, it means happier users. There’s nothing worse than logging into a system that looks a decade old, but under the hood actually acts like a 6 week old puppy and is ready to give anything a go. It might scare some users who don’t use it that often, but like anything else they will get used to it after using for a while.

A splash of colour, and then some

WordPress describes it as “Admin color schemes to match your personality”, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say personality, but more just to match the colour of your frontend.

WordPress 3.8 - Colour Schemes

There are six colour schemes to choose from and they can mostly be described as the colours of the iPhone 5C (they’ve even visualised it for us!).

For radio stations, it means all users can pick the colour that they wish. In one office you could end up with the colours of the rainbow, just on one WordPress site! That will certainly brighten up winter days, and make you scream for mercy the morning after the company Christmas party.

Posting from Tablets, properly

WordPress 3.8 - Admin on Nexus 7

You could just about use previous WordPress version on tablets, if you had a lot of patience and time. But Parker means that the admin pages are truly responsive and enable you to easily update via your tablet (or other mobile devices).

Looking at the admin for this site on my Nexus 7 makes for a pleasant experience. It’s now easier to find icons and format the body of the post. Overall, it’s just a much more appealing layout, which may make me update on the move more.

And for radio stations, this means you’ll be easily able to update your site from the scene of an event, or if you discover a major error, it can be eradicated from your hand instead of your laptop. I believe that if used correctly, this is the best part of Parker and it will empower content creators like never before. Plus, there’s no need for a silly plugin to generate a nice admin section!

Summary

Whilst the first two points are simply cosmetics to bring it up to modern design expectations, the real kicker in Parker is the way it now properly reacts to devices like tablets.

You can get WordPress 3.8 either via the Updates system in your WP install, or manually from wordpress.org/download.

Further Reading

#NowPlaying: Ghostbusters – Ray Parker Jr.

Why #R1review Just Works

"Alex from Attention Thieves and Alya from RWD join Edith in the studio."
“Alex from Attention Thieves and Alya from RWD join Edith in the studio.”

I’m currently listening to the BBC Radio 1 Review Show with Edith Bowman (she’s on the radio, not in my room listening with me).

Usually I don’t listen to the show live (Tuesdays 9-10pm) but listen to the podcast the next morning, whilst on the train to work.

In the podcast they cut out most of the music, leaving only 30-60 seconds of each track. This means I don’t get the track in full, unless I go out my way to find it later on. But I do get the full opinion of the listeners and show guests, which would probably influence me as to whether I go and find the full piece.

But tonight I’m listening LIVE. There is an amazing feeling of listening live. Knowing that there are thousands of others across the country (and possibly the world) who are giving their opinions on tracks that they’ve probably never heard.

Today Lily Allen released her ‘mumback’ single Hard Out Here. I tuned in tonight just as the song was finishing and I heard the opinions of the guests and listeners. There was just something about hearing other’s opinions on a song that I heard a few hours beforehand which excited me again about listening to the show live.

The first time I listened live to the show was on 22nd October. I tweeted in to the show and go a reply from the BBC R1 Twitter!

This excited me massively! Not only because @BBCR1 had tweeted me (and favourited my original tweet) but it was radio in realtime with instant(ish) interaction from the station.

This is what radio is about. Getting the listener involved and acknowledging them in a tiny way; read out their 140 character message, favourite their tweet or let them vote live during the show.

There’s just something about #R1review which excites me and reminds me why evenings on BBC Radio 1 are a fantastic place to find new music and get involved with the show.