So, I could probably work on this forever.


I’ve been building a podcast app for Android for the last year in my spare time. (Side note: I’ve been building an app for Android for the last 18 months. Fun fact, Premo started off as a contextual messaging app). In the last six months I’ve been working with a small team of beta testers to assist me in creating a great experience for Android podcast fans. It’s time to widen the audience.

Taking a few steps back, I love listening to podcasts. I’m a HUGE podcast fan. That might be an understatement. When I’m not listening to my wife, daughter, friends, or coworkers, I’m listening to podcasts. I started listening to podcasts in the Google Reader days (who remembers Google Listen?). Since then I have tried and purchased many podcast apps on Android including BeyondPod, Podkicker Pro, PlayerFM, and Pocket Casts. They’re all great apps.

But I decided to build a podcast app because I think there’s still room to do something different.

  • I should be able to sample and listen to new podcasts, without needing to subscribe to them
  • I should be able to share my collections of podcasts and episodes with other listeners, easily
  • I should be able to see episode show notes without digging too deeply
  • I should be able to easily organize and navigate my podcasts
  • I should be able to use a beautiful app

I decided to build a podcast app I would love to use. Now I’m making a bet that others will too. Today I’m opening up the beta to anyone running Android 5.0 “Lollipop” or higher. To sign up, visit Premo.FM and click “Join the Beta”.

The beta is free, which given all of the work I’ve put into this app, is crazy. The app may go paid (via an in-app purchase) or become listener supported (donations like public radio). In the meantime, just try it out and send me any feedback on Twitter, @PremoFM. I’m looking forward to it.

Happy listening 🙂

Android MediaSession

With Android 5.0 “Lollipop”, Google introduced the MediaSession API to simplify control of media on Android.  I’ve been building a podcast app (PremoFM) for the better part of a year, so I have some intimate knowledge of MediaSession, so I told the world about it at a TriDroid Meetup.  My learnings with the MediaSession API, it makes the following significantly easier:

  • Controlling playback, in the case where your MediaPlayer is in a background service and you present the user with controls in an activity, MediaController
  • Broadcasting state and playback metadata changes
  • Android Wear media playback control
  • Bluetooth playback control

Trust me, use the API.  I spent the better part of the last year working against the framework, until I did a deep dive and finally began to understand the purpose.  Anyone, my learnings are in a Google Slides slide deck:

-> Playing Media on Android 5 & Beyond

I’ve posted a very rough sample Android project on GitHub with some crude examples of using MediaSession to control playback in a service, from a notification and activity.

-> MarshmallowFM on GitHub

Here is a great explainer video about MediaSession.

New Nexus Phones


Google announced a pair of new Nexus phones packed with the latest hardware and software. Being a Nexus 6 user, the, Nexus 6P (bad name) appeals directly to me.

Wired interviewed, Alberto Villarreal, a Google hardware designer on the approach Google took in designing the new Nexus phones. I found a few tidbits quite interesting.

This is all powered by a new “Android Sensor Hub,” which takes the accelerometer, gyroscope, and more, and bundles it all together on a low-power chip of its own. That means your Nexus phone can collect more information about where you are and what you’re doing, without hurting your battery life, and use it to do more predictive and useful things.

The latest trend in mobile computing is specialization where specific tasks and processes can be moved to a low power chip to save energy. Apple has done a similar thing with its motion co-processor in the iPhone (recently moved back on chip in the 6 plus, but is still specialized).

There’s no wireless charging here, which feels like an oversight, but there is super-fast charging through the new port. And for now, Waraich says, that’s the best solution we’ve got. He says both phones will last a full day, but no more—and that’s as good as it gets. “One and a half days doesn’t matter,” he says. “In the morning you want your battery to look 100 percent when you leave for the day. So either somebody solves it for a week battery, or you have to give reliably one solid day of battery.”

Weirdly and exactly right, for most users. I’m at most 9-10 hours from a charger. If my phone can last that span with pretty heavy use with a healthy amount of battery left, the problem is essentially solved.  Most (if not all) smartphone manufacturers optimized for all day battery life because two day battery life is useless for the majority of people. We can charge every night.

There’s a 12.3-megapixel Sony camera sensor inside both devices, with 1.55 micron pixels that are much larger than your average smartphone. The Nexus cameras have never been much to brag about, but Google says this combination of high pixel count and big pixels is going to be huge..ere’s a 12.3-megapixel Sony camera sensor inside both devices, with 1.55 micron pixels that are much larger than your average smartphone. The Nexus cameras have never been much to brag about, but Google says this combination of high pixel count and big pixels is going to be huge.

Google has been serious about imaging in its Nexus phones for the last 3 years. Why would this year be any different. They have the imaging hardware to back it up. They appear to be using the recently announced Sony IMX377, with its large sensor size. However, your camera will live and die in the software of your camera stack, so I hope they paid the software the same attention.

The iPhone’s 6s, ‘s’ really is for speed

Joshua Ho at Anandtech posted some preliminary performance benchmark results of the iPhone 6s.



It’s clear that Apple has an incredible hardware advantage (and thus performance advantage) because they own the entire stack, hardware + software. I’m rather jealous. All of the Android devices I would use appear at the bottom of charts (the Nexus’) . While benchmarks don’t really matter as long as real world performance is ok, the performance gap is staggering.

While I’m a dedicated Android user, I’ve never been closer to wanting to buy an iPhone as I am right now.

Huawei Watch

Dieter Bohn of The Verge on the Huawei Watch:

People who want to spend $349 and up on a nice-looking watch can probably find something nicer-looking than this. People who just want the utility of a smartwatch can probably find something cheaper than this. The sliver of people who both like the look of the Huawei Watch and understand the capabilities and limitations of Android Wear seems perishingly small to me.

I agree with the conclusion of The Verge’s review of the Huawei Watch. It’s tough spending any appreciable amount of money on something like this (primarily because it’s digital and will be obsolete eventually).  The jury is still out on whether smart watch manufacturers will treat these devices like real watches with years of longetivity or smartphones with 2-3 years of longetivity. My guess is the latter.