Care to take the Android app for a spin?

Google Summer of Code is nearly over and the Android app is coming along nicely. If you want to download and try the application, here is a QR code for you:

Once we’re done with debugging the application we will release it to the Market.

19 thoughts on “Care to take the Android app for a spin?”

  1. Wow, great job jdamcd! I was literally about to have a shot at making a MusicBrainz app when I noticed this post.

    The only constructive criticism I have to give is:

    Implement a “small-text”/compact mode, there’s liberal line-spacing on some screens and I dislike scrolling. :PAt the least, display artist advanced-relationships (band members) (perhaps in a space that expands below the artist name, or a popup), after pressing a “more info” button located under the artist rating.Perhaps make tags clickable (and display a list of most tagged entities)?

    (Tested on emulator)

  2. 1) It would be nice to add a landscape mode, at least for some screens. Owners of devices that have physical keyboards (like me) would prefer to enter text via those rather than the on-screen ones. (At least, it didn’t work on my G1.) However, the screen does re-draw when I open the keyboard, which annoyingly takes a bit of time on, eg, artist pages with many releases.

    2) I think the “Rate” button is superfluous (on the “edit artist” screen, at least). Clicking on the stars should be enough, though sending the update to the site should have a few seconds of delay, to allow for quick adjustments.

    3) The “donate” button is for donating to MusicBrainz, but most such buttons on Android apps are for the app author. It’s a small button, but maybe you could make it more obvious who the target is. Maybe give it a “MB” icon rather than just a heart, or label it “Donate to MB”.

    4) I just added a release I scanned to “my collection” (via the “Add to collection” button on the release menu. When going to My Collection it wasn’t displayed. Actually, there was nothing displayed in my collection, though the site shows 42. Also, the new release wasn’t added on the site.

    5) It so happened that the release I scanned was a two-CD release. The app showed me only the first disc. I haven’t found a way of reaching the second disc, not even via the artist page.

    6) The contents of a release group are shown in a pop-up. Thus, if I pick the wrong release and want to turn back and try again, I need to go back to the artist page and find the RG again. It should be on a “screen”, so pressing “back” on the album page would get me back to the RG selection. Of course, if there’s a single release in that RG it should be displayed directly.

    7) On the “search” page, on my HTC G1, if I type a query then press enter the cursor moves to the first drop-box rather than start the query, as I’d have thought it would.

    8) It would be nice to be able to filter pages with lots of contents. On artist pages, you could add a “filter” button to the menu that adds a row of check-boxes at the bottom, with “album”, “ep”, “single”, “live”, “collection”, “other” and “hide” on it. Also, whenever more than one screenful of info is displayed, you should enable keyboard filtering (when the cursor is not in an editable text field, of course): when I type strings only entries containing those strings are shown (with space as separator). For example, on Iron Maiden’s screen I could type “LI[space]DE” and the “LIve After DEath” release would be one of those left, as would “The Night of the LIving DEad”. This would be ANDed with the release type filter, if enabled.

    9) It would be cute if the app allowed interaction with the music application. I’m not sure how easy it is, and I doubt it would be really very useful, but a “listen to this” button that is displayed only for pages that have a match in the user’s library would raise the cool factor. (E.g., on an Iron Maiden page it would start playing Maiden, on a certain album’s page it would start with any songs on that album that are in the collection.)

    I have yet to find a CD whose barcode is not in the DB (I added mine quite a while ago), so I haven’t tested what happens in those cases.

  3. Please make it an option that the search box uses auto-completion. A lot of the names I search for are either made up words or in a foreign language (english for example) and the auto correction gets in the way far more than it helps (it’s also too easy to clutter your dictionary with those words).

    Otherwise it looks great!

  4. bogdanb wrote: “I have yet to find a CD whose barcode is not in the DB (I added mine quite a while ago), so I haven’t tested what happens in those cases.”

    I had one (Schweine by Die Prinzen), and I was offered to add the barcode to the release, which I tried; however, the barcode did not appear in the database. I then edited the release event via the web interface (edit #13015478), so now the barcode is present, but the app still does not recognize it after 20 hours.

  5. Thanks for all the feedback, it’s been really useful. I’ll try and address the bits that look like bugs soon and I’ve made notes of all the other ideas.

    jacobrett: I agree that some of the spacing is a bit liberal at the moment. I’ll take that on board in future versions of the layouts. Clickable tags would be nice in the future.


    1: I plan to add landscape versions of most or all layouts eventually. I wasn’t aware that it was restarting the activity when the physical keyboard is opened. I’ll look into that!

    2: That’s a possibility. The reason I included the submission button was to be consistent with tagging and with the Android Market where you select a rating then confirm. I also think it’s clearer that the action has had an effect with a button. I’d be interested to hear what others think about that.

    3: Fixed in next .apk upload.

    4: Collections isn’t supported by the webservice yet. There are UI components but they don’t do anything.

    5: Can you post the barcode? I’ve tested releases with multiple mediums and they should be displayed, although I could improve the way they’re formatted as nikki was reminding me earlier.

    6: I fixed that a few days ago, the back button will act as expected. Yeah, the release group dialog is never shown if there is just one release. If that ever happens then something has gone horribly wrong.

    7: Added to my TODO list.

    8: I think I should definitely add filtering in the future.

    9: I was thinking about this sort of thing just the other day! Android makes that sort of thing fairly easy. There is another app that does searches based on the artist currently playing in the media player. That sort of stuff could be fun to try once the app is more stable.

    Georg: Great idea. I think a preferences menu with that and other options could be the way to go.

    chirlu: That feature is lacking in the web service and the app currently uses the test server which might explain why it didn’t find the barcode added via the web interface.

  6. Kudos for creating a cool app in sych short time.
    Some comments from an Android Newbie.

    1. Its annoying not being able to use the app in landscape, and even more annoying when you consider you have to turn it in landscape mode when doing the barcode scanning

    2. When you scan a barcode which isn’t already in Mb and then search for a release to link it and do a match its brilliant, but when there is no release to match to I find its annoying that you cant do anything with the scanned barcode. Could something be done with it so I have a record of which of my releases I need to add in to MusicBrainzsuch,maybe add to Google Spreadsheet which I can then work on at my computer at a later date.

    3. Does the release search include releases that already have a barcode, what happens if you add barcode to a release that already has a barcode ?

    4.From bogbans comments adding release to collection is already there at ui level, but I failed to find it.

  7. Two small UI things: After scanning an unknown barcode, the dialog (“Barcode not found”) has a Back button, but pressing the physical back button does not work. Also, pressing enter in the main search field should trigger the search.

    @ijabz, 4: Try pressing the menu key when viewing a release.

  8. @chirlu, thanks found it. Okay could that button be added to the main display under the tag and rate buttons, in fact you dont really need the rate button so you could replace it.

  9. Had a play with it a bit earlier; didn’t try editing as couldn’t remember what the test server passwords are now…

    Re 7) On my girlfriends HTC Wildfire pressing “enter” while typing in the search box does nothing at all. It should submit the search to be consistent with general Android behaviour I believe?

    Other comments (following on numbering from bogdanb)
    10) The buttons and overall header are /very/ large when viewed on a slightly lower res device such as the HTC Wildfire. They take up ~60% of the real estate on a release page, allowing very little space (even in portrait mode) to view the tracklist of a release. I think the heading, and in particular the Releases/Links/Edit buttons could be smaller and still usable?

    11) Bug: Search for “Nine Inch Nails”. The 2nd and 3rd entries are indented by a space As ” Peter Murphy” and ” Nine Inch Nails” under the correct search result. They should actually be two collaboration artists; “Peter Murphy & Nine Inch Nails” and “Chu Ishikawa & Nine Inch Nails” a la Ampersand or general escaping bug?

    12) Maybe having a small, simple visual divider (not necessarily a heading, just a thicker line or something) between release group types in the album list for an artist would be good? It’s not so easy seeing where albums end and singles begin when you’re scrolling through, for example.

    Otherwise pretty nifty. Really like where this is going.

  10. I’ve noted all the bugs and will fix them soon. Thanks for the feedback! 🙂

    voiceinsideyou: 11 is fixed, 12 I agree and the others are on the list.

    ijabz: 3: All releases. That case would be handled by the web service.

  11. Great stuff. Keep up the good work, and here’s hoping you can stick around to contribute post-GSoC. 🙂

  12. I’ve downloaded the latest version as of today, but I can’t log in, and also I can’t see the repository on GitHub. What gives?

  13. zeroGravitas: One of the authentication parameters had changed at the webservice side. I just uploaded an apk with that fix. The project is hosted on the MusicBrainz Git server.

  14. zeroGravitas: Long time no see! Also, note that the app works against the test server, which means it may have an older password for you.

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