60Hz turns 2.3

We have been working very hard for the last few weeks designing and building the next iteration of 60Hz. Here’s a quick overview of the highlights of this release...

DOWNLOAD: 60Hz for iPhone // 60Hz for iPad

We have a Wishlist

(aka watchlist for trakt folks)

Wishlist is something you can use alongside your 60Hz TV and Movie libraries. Next time you get a recommendation from a friend or read a review and want to check out a movie or a TV show, simply search and add it to your wishlist!

When we designed the wishlist, we wanted it to be a unique user experience.

On the iPhone, you get beautiful fanart for each show and movie. As you scroll, the posters exert gravity to give the feeling of each item on your list "competing for your attention" as they go in and out of view.

Please excuse my lousy emulator screen capture with jerky animations. Your experience will be buttery smooth ;)

On the iPad, we have a completely different experience. Your wishlist is transformed to a beautiful magazine layout for you to browse!

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60Hz is a little more social

For trakt users, you always could check-in to trakt, which in turn checked-in on Twitter and Facebook. However, real social interaction happens when your friends hear your opinion on what you just saw. Did you love the movie? Why you were outraged at that Game of Thrones episode? -- these are the things that gets the conversations going. When you mark an item, now you can choose to start a conversation on Facebook or Twitter. We will even attach a beautiful show summary link from trakt.tv to give your thoughts some context. We only ask that you keep our #60HzApp on to give us a little exposure ;).

iOS Simulator Screen shot 23.08.2013 7.08.49 AM.png
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Faster than ever!

We ripped out our image caching system to substituted a new one. In fact, it is the same caching system used on your Facebook app. You will notice a huge performance boost in the app while scrolling graphics heavy pages like the library and faster load times on the images. As an added bonus, the new system keeps storage use to a minimum, while will allow you to squeeze in a few more apps on your phone!

New toolbar for the iPhone

Yep, we ran out of space for more icons! We tried many different things and finally settled on a design where you can swipe down on the toolbar to reveal more features. In the settings menu, you can change the order of these icons so you can keep your favourite features on top.


Designing #60Hz toolbar for the new version out on Friday! #60HzApp by @darkvaderdin

No longer vanilla Big Bang

We added a whole lot of fanart to take over our regular Big Bang Theory poster. Why have one when you can have… more! Now the big poster on the mainlist automatically rotates between shows in your library. Makes things more fun!

Re-check-in watched episodes

Because a second, third, fourth viewing of Community is… normal. Trakt only.


Hold down on posters in the library view for show settings

There’s a cool slide to delete feature too!!

 

iOS7 support

Mostly fixing things Apple broke… Note how 60Hz fit right in with the new iOS7 designs :).

 

Lots of little big fixes and improvements all around. So enjoy and we hope you are totally getting your money’s worth!! We hope to be the best TV companion app on the store. So join our community pages on Facebook / Google+ or follow us on Twitter to stay up to date and influence future directions. Go to UserVoice to voice out opinions and tell us about what you enjoy and hate. Finally, leave us an updated review on the App Store. More people buying the app will allow us to spend more time improving it!

#60HzApp

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Enjoy ;)

DOWNLOAD: 60Hz for iPhone // 60Hz for iPad

 

Designing 60Hz 2.0

I love watching TV shows. I spend about an hour a day on it at least. It’s not just TV, I love movies too. I love the stories in them. It is another world of imagination where there are no limits. I gravitate towards shows which have a long running story, like Game of Thrones. I appreciate the sense of continuity they have. These shows offer a way for me to escape my busy work day when I get home.

In the December break of 2011, Suneth and I were geeking it out trying to solve a very small problem we had with TV: I find it hard to keep up with the story. Often, the episodes aren’t in order. Even if they are, you tend to forget it a little here and there. Busy life gets in the way of tracking these things. So we decided to make a little iPhone app, called tvQ, to keep track of where you’ve watched something to.

So tvQ 1.0 came out. We drew inspiration from apps like Series Guide for Android, which I had been using on my Nexus One. We got some traction after Justin from Trakt.TV approached us for an integration. 50% of our users are from trakt, the last time we estimated the numbers, which is a huge deal.

tvQ v1 is slow. It suffers from slowness brought on by Core Data Framework. We probably didn’t know the right way to go about it, to be honest. It is designed with stock standard iOS controls, which look dated now. We wanted to give it some love and write it in the architecture some of the bigger enterprise grade apps are written in. We wanted it to be fast and focus on the user experience a lot more this time. Other apps for trakt were copying our front page so we thought... let’s make something better! (Haha)

Coming from Momento Jar app, we had sharpened our iOS + Design skills. We started sketching out some of the early designs as you can see here (and some early photoshop mocks):

These screens represent some of the thinking gone behind the new design. Initially we wanted to take the 1.0 experience across where we focused heavily on just a single list of shows with their next episode. A lot of the times, this design didn’t always perform well. We realised the main page was more about episodes and less about each series. So we spent time crafting the front page to be episode centric.

Now, episodes from each show are put into 3 buckets.

  • We always show you what’s on today. They don’t have to be next in line. It is to say... hey these shows are on today, which might spark your interest to catch up or just see where it’s at now.

  • Next is upcoming, which is what I look forward to in the coming week. I get some of these stuff online so I keep an eye on these. Sometimes I like to read in advance and see what’s in store for the following week (I skip ads on TV so I don’t see the previews). I can limit this section by saying don’t show me if the next episode is 6 weeks away or more. When Suits is returning in a few weeks time, it will start appearing on the list again... which is exciting!

  • Same goes to past episodes. The thresholds you set for yourself allows shows you neglect to fall off the ledge and stay out of your way. Make sure to set these up in your settings when you get the app.

We added a proper library for you to collect shows. Made it so that you can ignore missed episodes for shows like CSI where you don’t care about watching every single episode. We made comments part of the synopsis page to see immediate reactions from other community users (trakt only).

One big change this time around is artwork. We put fanart and posters in the center of everything. This doesn’t mean we compromised on design at all. They elegantly fit in and add color to our app. You will realise the app is white for most part, with neon styled icons. The rest of the colors are really added in by the great artwork, giving color to every page. Our experience with Momento Jar really helped out here. There’s a bit more technical knowledge involved in caching, cropping and animating images to get the most out of them. If you get the iPad version, you will see that the obsession with great artwork continues. We hope you love it!

We did a lot of work in the backend too. It is a brand new codebase. We threw out everything we had before and made everything super fast. We used the Command & Engines architecture (future blogpost...?) to organize everything properly.

In the end, we’re very pleased with the result. I think this is a world class app, for both iPhone and iPad. It is made with love by Suneth and I, who uses the app on a daily basis. We hope our effort will convert to a large number of downloads. Tell everyone about it! It’s available 10th of May. Our app experience puts us firmly in front of the TV tracking apps out there. We intend to be creative with our features in the future releases. If you have awesome ideas of your own, head on down to our 60Hz page and start a discussion about it. We love hearing everyone's take on the app and the community support.

Thank you for reading. Here’s the end result (we felt serious about the app that we made a video about it!!!). Tell your friends... iPhone app is FREE on the 10th!!! :)

Making 60Hz App Demo Video

Product demo video can go a long way in promoting your product. However, getting a video done is quite difficult. Usually an app developer isn’t equipped with video skills. External sources can quote for a video anywhere from $5k to $20k, which is quite steep!

With the launch of 60Hz 2.0, we wanted a video to tell our story. We have excellent UI and it is dead simple to use. So here’s how I created a video for 60Hz with the help of my trustees Suneth (other half of M2D2) and Dilani. If you want something similar done, approach me or follow these steps!

First, the end result:

 

1. Thinking...

This is my first ever video creation. I do watch a significant number of TV shows and movies so I understand a little bit about what makes a good video: It is a good storyline, coherently captured in a series of sequences, and stitched together with an uplifting track.

A lot of product demos come with a narration to help the story aspect. However, it was obvious that there wasn’t enough time for that; I had to get this done in 2 weekends to kick off marketing.

2. Writing the Script

Every good movies and shorts start with a script. Ever heard of “failing to plan is planning to fail”? Same goes with a movie script. This is where planning starts.

I came up with a tagline / theme for this video: ”tvQ: keeping up with the story”. This proved to be an important part of making the movie. Everytime I had to make a decision, I asked myself, does it help me get to my theme?

This theme is exactly what 60Hz (formerly tvQ) does; it helps me keep up with all the great stories on the telly. Being in the country where back to back episodes are almost never from the same season, it makes me less frustrated too!

I wrote down how I would tell someone about 60Hz; a little pitch. I presented the problem I was having keeping up with times, downloads, repeats and how 60Hz just lets me consume everything in order. I took the script to Google Docs and had a shared editing session with Suneth (other half of M2D2) and Dilani (trustee M2D2 sidekick advisor, aka Suneth’s wife).

3. Storyboarding

All good videos need to be storyboarded. We did the same with 60Hz video. This is a very important step. I don't quite have a pretty storyboard so here’s a substitute from Momento Jar (a video that never got made):

This was important because between the storyboards and the script, I could write down a list of sequences and estimate length of the sequences I required to complete the video. I wrote down a long list of shots, including zoom levels, to shoot. The list also had things like still shots I made in Photoshop afterwards.

It looked something like this:

Required Scenes

  • Pressing on icon ( < 1s )
  • Start screen up, scrolling down ( 2s )
  • Pressing community episode on the main list, reading the synopsis
  • (Zoomed In) new show being added (probably do a few and make it a cool sequence)
  • ...

4. Quick Hack

Then I did something silly and unexpected: I shot a quick video!! I was impatient and just wanted to learn iMovie (never used it before). So I spent the next 4 hours on making a self shot quick video around my script. I cannot post it here due to copyright restrictions on the music I used (Change of Seasons by Sweet Thing). Message me privately for a link.

Something great came out of this exercise: Lots of feedback!!! I figured out everything good and bad witch what I did and carried on to shooting it all properly.

5. Lights, Camera, Action!

Equipped with a list of sequences, we got shooting. Interesting lessons learnt:

  • Mid morning shoots are the best for the right kind of light. iPhones screen causes havoc on contrast balance on them point and shoots. I wish I owned a DSLR.

  • Tripod is a must.

  • Little details matter, like arrangement of icons on the iPhone home screen.

  • Let the video start and run off for 5 to 10s at least. Helps during editing.


6. Editing

With my newly acquired iMovie skills, editing the video wasn’t a problem. Just have to play around with transitions, cuts, speeds, sounds etc.

Music is the one big problem. Most music is out of bounds due to copyright restrictions. YouTube automatically detects and flags your video if you misuse stuff, which is why YouTube is full of covers. EMI Music was asking what our payment was going to be so we looked to royalty free music. Here’s a great site: www.premiumbeat.com - $40 for a full track.

Conclusion

In the end, the video looks great. It gets the point across and shows off our apps. I think it’ll make a big impact on our way to the 60Hz launch on 10th of May. I hope people will appreciate the effort spent. It’s just as fun to make a video as it is to make the app itself. If you need help with your video, send me a message ;).

Remember to get your free copy of the iPhone app for FREE on launch day. 

https://www.facebook.com/tvQapp