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

Radioplayer Tablet Apps Launch

Radioplayer-iPad-PortraitSince starting my job as Quality Assurance Engineer at All In Media, one of the big clients we’ve been working with has been Radioplayer.

I’ve blogged a couple of times about Radioplayer, so I was very excited to be working with Mike and Leo again.

Radioplayer launched their desktop app in 2011, followed by their mobile apps last summer. So the next step was of course tablets.

As far as we can tell, people in the UK currently do between 10-15% of their web browsing on tablets.  And when they are using their tablets, they tend to linger longer on them, than they do on their PCs or phones. [Source: Radioplayer]

The new apps, for Android and iOS, are all about discovering new stations and getting more from the stations you choose to listen to.

The main highlights are an enlarged station view, columns for all the stations to pick and a supercharged search function.

My job throughout the project was to test the app and ensure that it met the client’s expectations. I even managed the project from our end for a week whilst my boss was away! So after many hours going through a 100+ point test list, the apps are ready to use.

Mike Hill, MD of UK Radioplayer Ltd, has done a short demonstration of the new iPad layout.

Go ahead and download them for Android tablets and iOS (iPhone & iPad).

And if you feel it’s good enough to shout about, why not give it a review in the relevant app stores.

I am very proud to have been part of the team that has brought this app to life and hopefully everyone will appreciate and love what we’ve done.

Reviews & Features

Since the app’s official launch on Wednesday 25th September, The Guardian put the app in their “20 best Android (iPhone and iPad) apps this week” articles! We were even above FIFA 14 in the iOS list! Check them out: iPhone & iPadAndroid

James Cridland, of MediaUK and one of the pre-release testers, wrote a review of the app on his blog: http://www.mediauk.com/article/34460/the-uk-radioplayer-tablet-app

James also spoke to Mike Hill about the mechanics behind the recommendations engine: http://www.mediauk.com/article/34461/under-the-hood-with-the-uk-radioplayer-tablet-app

On Tuesday 1st October, Lucy Hedges gave her review of the Radioplayer app on Lauren Laverne’s BBC 6Music show.

These comments are those of me (Oliver Needham) and not those of my employer, nor the client.

Becoming an Employed Graduate in London

On Friday 12th July 2013, I graduated with a first class BA (Honors) degree in Film, Television and Radio Studies from Staffordshire University. But let’s back up a bit. The story of me becoming employed starts before then!

During Cre8 Radio’s broadcast in May/June, a lecturer from Sunderland University was visiting student radio stations around the country and came to Staffs Uni to see what we got up to. Fred Marden is also a contact of a good friend of mine, Christopher Smith. Fred had got in contact with Christopher about a position at a company called All In Media. Christopher didn’t really fancy it but suggested I might be.

aimlogoSo Fred passed on the details of the job, along with the CEO of the company, Chris Gould. I sent my CV to Chris and the conversations led to me meeting up with him and CTO Jason Malaure in London. We spoke about what the company gets up to, its future and where I might be able to fit in with that. The meeting was on Thursday 26th June and on the Monday, I undertook a small task Chris set me. I apparently passed with flying colours as I was offered the job the same day

I took a couple of days to consider the offer and way up what it meant for me, before accepting it. I thought about where I might live, how I’d get to the office and also what life would be like near London. Fortunately someone I met at Essex International Jamboree posted a tweet saying they were looking for a fourth housemate, just 5 minutes away from London Euston.

By Thursday 4th July, every was sorted. I had a new job, a new place to live and a first class degree to celebrate!

WP_20130712_006On the following Friday (12th) I celebrated my graduation at Trentham Gardens with the class of 2013 from Staffordshire University. My mum, dad, sister, grandparents and auntie were all there and we had a great day.

We traveled back to Spalding the following day, before moving me into my new house in the Borough of Camden on the Sunday morning.

On Monday morning (15th), I headed off to my first day at Quality Assurance Engineer for All In Media. It was a pretty busy couple of days!

So I’ve just finished the first week at the company and it has been fantastic. I’ve got involved in the development of a load of apps, and I’ve been working heavily on a couple of apps in particular. I look forward to what lays ahead for me at the company and I can’t wait to get more involved as time goes on.

What makes the job offer from AIM even sweeter, is that a couple of days beforehand I got an offer from another company in London. They contacted me first, after they saw a project I worked briefly on. Being head hunted is rather exciting! I visited them for a day; got to know the team, how they worked and where the company was heading. At the end of the day they presented me with a t-shirt and also an offer. They were really lovely people and I could see great potential in the company, but it just wasn’t for me. I failed one of their tasks that they set me, yet they still invited me to their offices. They obviously saw something in me. But the role wasn’t really what I wanted and I don’t think I’d enjoy it. Writing my email to them to turn down their offer was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do as of late. But I learnt a lot about the recruitment process with them.

So here I am. I’m in London, with a full time job at a great company which is going places and taking on great projects.

View from the bridge over the Thames, which I have to cross to get to the office.
View from the bridge over the Thames, which I have to cross to get to the office.

I know others who graduate this summer won’t be as fortunate as I’ve been, but the positions are out there. Some people have asked why I haven’t gone into a radio station for a job. The answer being because I love being part of a company that assists stations in doing what they do.

My advice to anyone coming out with a degree, is to open your scope a bit more. See what positions are laying around your ideal job. Who knows, maybe that job that isn’t directly linked to what happens on air may get you closer into the station than you think.

Watch this space! I’m sure I’ll post news about what apps I’m working on soon; both on here and on Twitter via @OliverNeedham.