Thursday, September 5, 2013

Until AM for Chrome Now Officially Out - Featured Among the Elite Chrome Apps

Until AM featured on the Google marketing page

Today, the thoroughly renewed Chrome Web Store was rolled out, making the packaged apps available to the general public for the first time. Until AM for Chrome is therefore now finally officially available straight from the Store for all the people! The guys at the Google Chrome team describe the launch in more detail in their fresh blog post.

To our great pride, Until AM for Chrome has been featured as one of the showcase apps Google uses to call attention to its new platform! Besides most likely bringing our app to the consciousness of a great number of new users, being spotlighted from amongst all the other great apps sure feels like a homage of sorts. Neat!

Now we're just waiting Until AM for Chrome to get as popular as the original Until AM web app. And obviously developing new features in the meanwhile!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Hooked Up With Google Drive + Ultra Sharp Graphics

It hasn't been that long since the initial test release of Until AM for Chrome, but we already have some exciting new stuff to add: the app now seamlessly connects to Google Drive! 

As you probably know, Google Drive is a pretty advanced online file storage system, automatically available free-of-charge to anyone with a Google account. If you're new to this service, have a look at their introduction website.

We've now integrated Google Drive file access straight into the user interface of Until AM for Chrome. The fundamental idea is that you'll manage your audio files outside of our app, using the normal Google Drive interface, but during your DJ session you can easily access the stored songs without leaving the DJ tool. This is super cool and opens up totally new ways of working for the DJs living the era of cloud computing:
  • Access the audio files you've stored onto your Google Drive simply by clicking the new tab at the top of the songs list.
  • Automatic login via Chrome. If you're already browsing as an authenticated user, you'll see the Google Drive audio files listed on their tab without doing anything. If not, you can easily provide your credentials at any time during your DJ session without interrupting the music.
  • Add new songs to your Google Drive in the middle of a DJ session, even by using the same account on another computer. Just remember to click the "Refresh file listing" button to see the up-to-date list of songs.
  • Collaborative deejaying by sharing files with other Google Drive users. The songs list inside the app includes not only your own audio files, but also the ones the other users are sharing with you. This is another ace feature: while one DJ is mixing, other peeps can drop her new song suggestions in the middle of the set. All they need to know is the DJ's Gmail address. For example, one half of a DJ duo can concentrate on mixing while the other one is adding new songs, using another computer. Or the guests of a home party can all participate in building the playlist by sharing songs with their mobile devices.
  • Anyone with Google Drive access can share and manipulate songs, only the DJ must be using Until AM for Chrome on a proper computer. Alongside the web interface, there are Google Drive mobile apps available for Android and iOS.
  • Support for .m3p, .ogg and .wav formats, just like the local files. If you have other kinds of files on your Google Drive, they're simply filtered out from the listing so your deejaying view won't get cluttered with irrelevant junk.

Another improvement is that the we now support high resolution graphics. This means people running a computer with a high pixel density display (e.g. MacBook with Retina display or Chromebook Pixel) will be eyeing an extremely crisp user interface. If you don't have such a machine you won't notice a thing. However, it seems this kind of displays are getting more and more common in the newer models of many computer manufacturers. As high fidelity freaks we're always proud to provide superior quality in visuals as well as in audio.

One more important thing: using the latest app version requires Chrome 29 or newer. However, this day the standard Chrome browser is still in 28, but if you feel adventurous you can go ahead and download the beta version of the browser from the Google page. Nonetheless, the standard Chrome should be updated to v. 29 really soon, so if you'll just loiter a couple of days you'll be able to encounter the most avant-garde version of our app without any extra nerdery. UPDATE: The official Chrome 29 is now out, so just update your browser! Moreover, at the moment the packaged app platform can only be fully experienced on Windows and Chrome OS, whilst people on OS X or other systems might experience small hiccups. Sorry about the complexity, but we're on the bleeding edge of browser tech now and the ground is still a bit wobbly over here.

Anyway, once you're on Chrome 29, click the image above and try out the latest version! Because we're spearheading new stuff here, your feedback (as well as possible bug reports) is more welcome than ever!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Until AM Now Available as a Packaged App

We've lately been busy with working on something more than a simple feature update. Today, we're thrilled to release a completely new app in the Chrome Web Store: Until AM for Chrome.

What we're talking about is a so called packaged app, a new kind of a application made possible just recently by the red hot Chrome update. Even though you browse and install the packaged apps through the Chrome Web Store, they're in essence just like the "normal" native applications you have in the program files folder of your computer. The packaged apps run completely outside of the web browser in their own window, and also work when you're offline.

At the time being, the packaged apps framework itself is still under development and you might not find our app by browsing the Chrome Web Store. However, we'd like to invite the blog readers for a sneak peek already: first make sure you have Chrome v. 28 29, then click the image above to install the app.

UPDATE: The latest version requires Chrome 29 or newer, check the new post!

On the surface the new app looks more or less the same as the old one, but under the hood we've remade almost everything. Instead of the Adobe Flash platform we've been using before, the packaged apps are built using the cutting edge HTML5 and in our case Web Audio technology. Obviously, this opens up exciting possibilities for the future development. We're going to publish more new stuff soon, but we simply couldn't hold back this initial version of the packaged app any more.

In a nutshell, the first release of the packaged app brings along several new features for the seasoned Until AM users:
  • Highly improved audio quality. With an about 30% boost to the sample rate, the effects and scratching simulation just reached a new level of exactness.
  • Work offline. The packaged app stays installed on your computer even while you're not connected to the internet. Of course, without a web connection you can't access SoundCloud either, but nevertheless we think the offline mode is highly useful for DJs who need to spin in environments where the fibre isn't always reliable. For summer's sake, imagine a beach party for instance.
  • Go fullscreen. The new app appears in a native window instead of a browser, so you can maximize it and avoid being disturbed by other applications while in the middle of the party.
  • Support for WAV and Ogg Vorbis. And mp3 remains there as well, of course.

The two incarnations of the app will co-exist in the Chrome Web Store. One likes the mother, another one the daughter, and it's absolutely not obligatory to switch to the new app if you prefer the old one. However, it might well be that in the near future the two apps will get more dissimilar since the underlying platforms are somewhat different and adding exactly same features might thus prove cumbersome.

In any case, we'd be really happy if you'll give the new app a test drive! As always, any feedback and bug reporting is welcome e.g. via the Facebook page or e-mail!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Until AM into the Final of Arctic15

Tekes and Arctic15 love Until AM

Until AM participated in a startup competition organized by Arctic15 conference in Helsinki. We're proud to announce that our app was chosen as one of the finalists!

The competition was open for Nordic and Baltic startups. The finalists were chosen from a group of over 100 applications of all kinds, not necessarily related to music or online services. We won the category of a Best new mobile service idea, curated by Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation.

Mobile service, huh? That's right - even though Until AM is currently known as a web app running in a browser, it's about to reincarnate as a mobile app as well. The technical development is well on its way, and we're really excited about the possibilities of DJing on a portable device with a touch screen. Our aim is not to merely replicate the functionality of traditional desktop DJ apps on a new platform, but instead we've designed some completely new ways to stir the soup. And no worries if you prefer to use your desktop computer for DJing: the current browser-based version will stay online and get developed further. But more on this later, once we get the first version of the mobile Until AM out!

At the moment we're preparing to present our app in the final pitching session in October, competing for the main price. Thrilling times for Until AM!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Until AM Used by One Million People

The popularity of Until AM is on a steady rise.

Lately, a glimpse of our web site statistics revealed a dazzling fact: we've reached the milestone of one million unique visitors! Moreover, Until AM has now been installed over 230.000 times in the Chrome Web Store, making it one of the undisputed chart-busters in the category of music related apps.

These are pretty badass numbers, and we're extremely happy and grateful with this success. It feels even spiffier since we haven't really promoted the app in any explicit way, but instead the user base has been growing through social media.

One million thanks to all Until AM users!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Improved Search

It's been a while since we released new features to our app, so it's about time to move things forward again. Today we launched a fresh version with
  • Search results pagination: use the small arrow buttons next to the search area to browse through any number of songs matching your search criteria.
  • "Can't connect to SoundCloud" message should not be shown to anyone without real networking problems any more. We're sorry for the inconvenience this has been causing lately!
  • Links to our Facebook and Twitter profiles can now be found in the main menu. If you didn't already, go ahead and show us your support by following us on these social media platforms!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Until AM Rocking Swift And Steady

Increasing popularity of Until AM has led into a so called positive problem: our old server couldn't handle it any more.

The amount of daily visitors to Until AM has been on a steady rise since the beginning, which is by itself a nice thing of course. However, as a side effect we've repeatedly run into annoying and unexpected service breaks due to insufficient bandwidth and unreliability of our hosting service solution. We decided it's about time to fix this for good, so we moved the whole service to a new environment where we have full control over our own server and all but unlimited technical capabilities for upscaling.

In a nutshell:
  • Reduced app startup time because of faster connections, especially if you happen to be on the US side of the globe
  • Further speed upgrade due to file size optimization
  • And thanks to a more robust server environment in general, we expect the app to be available at all times without any more breaks

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Server down!

Sometimes even the greatest of computers might have an issue.

Our hosting service provider is currently having technical problems and the Until AM site is down. However, they estimate the service should be up and running again within a timeframe of max couple of hours. 

Due to the great popularity of Until AM, we're currently looking into a more robust hosting service solution. Anyway, sorry for the inconvenience of today!

UPDATE: Now we're back online, so it was just a couple of hours break after all. 

Friday, February 10, 2012

New Features: Favorite Songs and Play History

Return to your personal DJ set on Until AM. 

This week we added some intelligence to the songs management, making it easier and faster for you to find your way in the backwoods of SoundCloud.

At the bottom of the songs list there are now buttons for accessing the lists of your favorite songs as well as the ones you've played earlier. Current search results are displayed on a separate list, just like before.

Next to the song name on the list you'll find a small star symbol. By clicking this you can mark the song as your favorite. The play history list is growing by itself: whenever you add a record onto the turntable, Until AM remembers it.

You don't need to spend your time worrying about saving files or logging in - just browse to the website again and your stuff is where you left it. In this sense, you might think of Play history and Favorites as conceptual cousins to the familliar features of the web browser, History and Bookmarks. 

We also added a small but useful user interface amendment: you can now adjust the space reserved for the songs list and the actual DJing area by grabbing the line between the two panels. This allows users with a large display to utilize the available screen estate more effectively.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Until AM Reviewed in Digital DJ Tips

Until AM gets a positive review from Digital DJ Tips. Click the image to read the article.

Today, Until AM was reviewed in Digital DJ Tips, a well-respected online publication. We couldn't be more happy about the praise our app gets in the article by Phil Morse, e.g.

"This kind of thing is quite possibly the future of digital DJing"

Go ahead and read the full article on their site.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Until AM Featured in the Sound Cloud App Gallery!

Until AM loves SoundCloud and SoundCloud loves us back.

Until AM is added to the SoundCloud App Gallery, and gets featured on the first page of Discover & Listen category.

Huge shout out to SoundCloud from Until AM, we're thrilled to take part in revolutionizing the world of sound with SoundCloud!

Friday, January 27, 2012

User Interface Improvements

Until AM's new user interface now works better also with small screen sizes

The newest release is a more or less miscellaneous collection of small refinements: 
  • The user interface graphics have been polished here and there. 
  • Main menu was added to the top, quite empty at the moment but going to get handy for sure once the app becomes more complex. 
  • Keyboard shortcuts for playing and pausing the turntables were added, and a list of all available shortcuts is available at the Help section of the top menu. 
  • Double click a song on the list to queue it immediately to the "most idle" deck. In most cases the hidden logic does the trick for you, but if you like more control you're still welcome to drag'n'drop the songs onto whichever turntable you prefer.
  • Once again, we found a way to reduce the CPU load by 10%.
  • Some non-critical yet annoying bugs were found, and fixed of course.  Parts of the code were also restructured, ensuring the foundation of the house is solid before moving on to build the upper floors.
This kind of stuff is both minor and major at the same time: no huge leaps forward feature-wise, but details make the difference while striving towards a perfect user experience.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Song Downloading & Keyboard Control Added

Download song by clicking the small arrow at the upper right corner of the song box.

During the first days after the Until AM website launch, we've already received some feedback from the users. Great, keep it coming! 

Based on user input, we've now released a new version with important updates:
  • Downloading songs in mp3 format 
  • Keyboard shortcuts for controlling the cross fader
  • Performance improvements: playback and scratching requires even less CPU than before
  • Website face lift
  • Minor bug fixes

If a song is available for download, you'll find a small arrow next to it (see right side of the picture above). Whether downloading a particular song is possible or not naturally depends on the decision made by the artist who chose to share the song.

Simply click the arrow, and the download starts. What exactly happens next depends on your browser settings, but typically you'll find yourself staring at a pop-up window for choosing the download folder on your computer. After the download has finished, you can open the mp3 file with any normal music player.

The crossfader can now be controlled with the left and right arrow keys of your keyboard. Clicking or holding down the arrow key moves the crossfader little by little. Shift-clicking causes a smooth transition to the extreme end to happen over time. Finally, alt-clicking moves the crossfader completely to the desired side at once. More keyboard shortcuts are coming up later, but we felt the crossfader was the most important thing to get your mixing session going.

Happy downloading!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Until AM featured in Rumba

Until AM was noted by Rumba magazine

Until AM was reviewed by Rumba, a Finnish music magazine. Read the whole article from their website (in Finnish):
Suomalainen Until AM muuttaa nettiselaimen dj-laitteistoksi

Thanks for a positive and encouraging article, Rumba!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Until AM is now available at Chrome Web Store!

Click this image to install Until AM as a free Chrome application.

While we're on a roll here, we updated the Until AM mixer to the Chrome Web Store!

So if you're using Google Chrome, go ahead and install the free application from there and have quick access to it at any time.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Major tech update: version 0.2.1 released

Under the hood of the Until AM mixer  

Alongside with the brand new website launch, Until AM has gone through a massive reprogramming operation. While the first public beta served as a proof-of-concept level prototype, we now managed to greatly improve the speed and user experience of the app.

As a result, the new version now features:
  • RAM required to run the program was cut to less than 10% of the earlier. In practice this means Until AM should work also on older and slower machines without problems.
  • The mechanism of preloading and preprocessing the audio files has been radically boosted, so you can start the record playback immediately after a song has been selected.
  • All SoundCloud songs are now available for playback. You can access even long mixtapes just as quick as standard length songs: the beginning of the track is playable straight on, even though the end part is still being loaded.
  • You can cancel the preloading of a song simply by dropping a new one onto the turntable, and it's OK to load new tracks onto both decks at the same time. This is handy especially when you're dealing with mixtapes or other relatively heavy files.
  • The annoyances caused by missing browser scrollbars on some platforms have been solved, and you're now able to use the software with any screen resolution.

Until AM website and blog opened!

Until AM loose in the wild 

The shiny and new Until AM website is now online. Some visitors might find the app and the site strangely familiar, and no wonder: Until AM was initially published at the website. However, we thought the DJ application is cool enough to deserve a website of its own, so for the sake of clarity we separated the DJ tool and the composing studio into individual services. Both services are still being developed by the same crew, so basically not so much has changed production-wise.

To stay up to date with the development of Until AM, follow this blog, the Facebook page and the Twitter feed. Remember, this is still an early beta and hopefully we're able to release new features and other improvements on a regular basis.

And once again, please share your comments, proposals and possible bug reports with us! Any user feedback is extremely valuable for us and enables us to develop the app into the proper direction.