#1 Posted by TheFaxman (50 posts) -

I've been working on a Windows 8 & Windows RT app for Giant Bomb and thought I'd show off some work in progress / try to gauge interest. My goal here is to make something very similar to by WP7 app (http://www.giantbomb.com/forums/general-discussion/30/giant-bomb-for-windows-phone-7/495842/) and to build something that matches the Win8 design patterns.

Here's what I'm planning:

  • Browse Promos, Reviews, News, Podcasts, Videos
  • Integrated video player w/ support for PlayTo - send your videos directly to a DLNA target from the app
  • Background audio support for podcasts
  • Live tile showing latest updates (possibly push for real-time updates)
  • Integrated w/ Win 8 search and share
  • View the wiki w/ a detailed view for each entry type

Here's some screenshots from an early build to give you a feel for how it might look. I've mostly been working on video playback and news at the moment, but other views would look fairly similar.

Here's what I'm looking for in terms of feedback at the moment:

  • Windows 8 isn't out yet so this is a bit speculative - but assuming you were running a Win8 PC or tablet would you be interested in this app?
  • What's the one killer feature you want?
#2 Posted by Vampir (134 posts) -

I haven't found many windows 8 apps so far that bring the metro experience to things I use on a regular basis, so I'd definitely be interested in it. It looks great from the screens you've posted.

PlayTo support already sounds like a killer feature, but the ability to browse videos by sub-category would also be useful. For people like me who aren't particularly interested in trailers, it's nice to be able to look specifically through quick looks or features.

#3 Posted by Redsox44 (482 posts) -

Looks good, I love your WP7 app.

#4 Posted by warxsnake (2645 posts) -

JIZZ

#5 Posted by WMWA (1160 posts) -

Looks like you'd give Drew and Alexis a run for their money, Duder

#6 Posted by wewantsthering (1564 posts) -

Looks nice, but I'm probably skipping Windows 8.

#7 Posted by BraveToaster (12590 posts) -

It looks good, but I have one minor issue: in the second image of your OP, I noticed that the titles for each column are positioned at the end of the previous column. It would look more professional if the subtitles were at the top of their respective columns.

#8 Posted by TheFaxman (50 posts) -

@BraveToaster: I'm still playing around with the formatting on this but this may be difficult since it's dynamic - the columns are automatically split based on screen size. For example - here's the same article on a 27" inch screen @2560x1440 (previous example was form a 10.6" tablet @1080p):

#9 Posted by TheFaxman (50 posts) -

@Vampir: I can do video category filtering pretty easy with the API - I've added a TODO item to add some filtering dropdowns similar to how the store app works.

#10 Posted by jnw93 (23 posts) -

Looks cool but im not sure if im going to change to W8, 7 is fine for me.

#11 Posted by buft (3315 posts) -

Looks great, if i have a windows 8 machine in the future im sure i would use that, one thing though are the images squashed something about the pictures looks a little off like they are stretched to fit wrong or something.

#12 Posted by TheFaxman (50 posts) -

@buft: The aspect ratio issue w/ images has since been fixed in my current build:

#13 Posted by xyzygy (9940 posts) -

Wow I had no idea there was a WP7 app. Downloading now. I will definitely give the W8 app a try when I get it.

#14 Posted by Grilledcheez (3946 posts) -

That's pretty awesome of you, if / when I ever get windows 8 I will be sure to use it!

#15 Posted by MordeaniisChaos (5730 posts) -

It'd be nice if you could make the tiles the right aspect ratio. Also if it doesn't have good live tile options I might not use it as much. If possible, being able to chose between what it shows as updates would be nice. Latest non-trailer video would be best for me, but latest news story could work. But without the live tile stuff, I can't see it being very useful for me. I use my browser so much and it's already my homepage. Looks like a good start though!

One thing I'll say is don't use the stupid right click menu at the bottom of the screen. It's awful for mouse users, and just not great when you have as much room as you do on the screen.

@TheFaxman: A solution for the articles might be to take inspiration from the mail app and make the article be in a pane of it's own to the side that scrolls and is one page width, with a list of articles like you'd see as a lit of emails in the email apps. This seems like a better way to format articles, especially given the usual length of Giantbomb articles. I'm not a fan of the way that for example the news app formats text. It's ok, for long articles, but for short articles like we tend to see on GB, it seems like a poor solution.

#16 Edited by Sooty (8082 posts) -

I don't want to be a buzzkill or anything but why the hell would you want to use this if you're on a tablet or desktop? The full site will work fine, it does on my iPad and PC.

Legitimately confused about this one, I can see it having some merit for tablet use but considering the new site is meant to be more mobile friendly it doesn't seem like many people will be looking for such an app.

This sounds harsh but that just seems like the reality of it to me. Can't some apps be pinned to the Metro start screen? Maybe you can work out some cool functionality there related to GB instead, and maybe HTPC users would want this.

#17 Posted by Portis (1286 posts) -

Looks hot!

#18 Posted by Butano (1731 posts) -

@MordeaniisChaos said:

@TheFaxman: A solution for the articles might be to take inspiration from the mail app and make the article be in a pane of it's own to the side that scrolls and is one page width, with a list of articles like you'd see as a lit of emails in the email apps. This seems like a better way to format articles, especially given the usual length of Giantbomb articles. I'm not a fan of the way that for example the news app formats text. It's ok, for long articles, but for short articles like we tend to see on GB, it seems like a poor solution.

I second this, and also would appreciate video filtering, much like the Whiskey Media Buddy app for Android and iOS. Another suggestion, though I don't know how hard it would be, if there were a way to save your point in the middle of a video if you exited out of the app that would be fantastic! Always a pain to try to find where I'm at in a lengthy Quick Look or Endurance Run episode.

Online
#19 Posted by Korwin (2839 posts) -

I hope you make it available in more than one region, I can't get your wp7 app in AUS :P

#20 Posted by TheFaxman (50 posts) -

@Butano: Currently the app remembers where you were if you close it while viewing a video. This only works for the last viewed video. Is this what you're looking for / are you looking for something more expansive?

In terms of the page layout - I still think I prefer the horizontal scrolling (especially on the tablets I've tried), but I can see that not everyone agrees here. I'll play around with a bit more - I may end up offering both layouts as a selectable setting so we can get the best of both worlds.

@Korwin: I'm not sure why the AUS market was enabled - I've put in the request to publish it there. This usually takes a day or two before it shows up - let me know via PM if you don't see it within 48 hours.

#21 Posted by Demoskinos (14737 posts) -

@Sooty said:

I don't want to be a buzzkill or anything but why the hell would you want to use this if you're on a tablet or desktop? The full site will work fine, it does on my iPad and PC.

Legitimately confused about this one, I can see it having some merit for tablet use but considering the new site is meant to be more mobile friendly it doesn't seem like many people will be looking for such an app.

This sounds harsh but that just seems like the reality of it to me. Can't some apps be pinned to the Metro start screen? Maybe you can work out some cool functionality there related to GB instead, and maybe HTPC users would want this.

Kinda what I was thinking......

#22 Posted by Butano (1731 posts) -

@TheFaxman: Yep! Exactly what I was thinking. Awesome!

Online
#23 Edited by MordeaniisChaos (5730 posts) -

@Butano: I've been wanting a way to save my progress in a video for ages. You'd think it'd be something they'd work on considering the format of their videos.

@TheFaxman said:

@Butano: Currently the app remembers where you were if you close it while viewing a video. This only works for the last viewed video. Is this what you're looking for / are you looking for something more expansive?

In terms of the page layout - I still think I prefer the horizontal scrolling (especially on the tablets I've tried), but I can see that not everyone agrees here. I'll play around with a bit more - I may end up offering both layouts as a selectable setting so we can get the best of both worlds.

@Korwin: I'm not sure why the AUS market was enabled - I've put in the request to publish it there. This usually takes a day or two before it shows up - let me know via PM if you don't see it within 48 hours.

Tablet viewing vs 24"+ monitors require very different viewing. With a wide screen landscape large screen, a bunch of small columns across the screen isn't really a good use of space, especially with how much empty space ends up with short articles.

@Sooty said:

I don't want to be a buzzkill or anything but why the hell would you want to use this if you're on a tablet or desktop? The full site will work fine, it does on my iPad and PC.

Legitimately confused about this one, I can see it having some merit for tablet use but considering the new site is meant to be more mobile friendly it doesn't seem like many people will be looking for such an app.

This sounds harsh but that just seems like the reality of it to me. Can't some apps be pinned to the Metro start screen? Maybe you can work out some cool functionality there related to GB instead, and maybe HTPC users would want this.

All metro apps are on the start screen if you want em there, and the reason I think people want this is just because they like the Metro environment, plus having a live tile that updates everytime a new something pops up on GB would be neat for people who actually look at their stuff. I think you can also set an app to provide notifications when something is updated, so he could theoretically make the app let you set what you want to be notified of when new ones are posted (I'd love W8 notifications for new GB content, as I already make use of it with the Preview and the calender and messenger apps, which has been great for me.

In fact @TheFaxman: I'd say that notifications for new videos would make this something I'd be willing to pay a couple bucks for, that'd be awesome. Not sure if it's possible but if it is you should make it happen!

#24 Posted by EXTomar (4642 posts) -

Except for the native "sent too device" support (which is more of a player feature) I always wonder if it is wise for any web site to build platform specific apps for features that are generically offered through a browser by HTML5. Basically I'm not sure what is improved app side that wouldn't be considered a "feature request" and should be worked on anyway.

#25 Posted by Mikewrestler5 (602 posts) -

This looks great, and it shows the potential of Windows 8. I can't wait to upgrade from Vista to 8 when it's released.

#26 Posted by august (3833 posts) -

I'd be interested in beta testing this if you're looking for people to do so.

#27 Posted by Paliv (128 posts) -

I'd be very interested!

#28 Posted by TheFaxman (50 posts) -

@MordeaniisChaos: I actually personally prefer the columns on my 27" 2560x1440 monitor as well - I feel like it uses the widescreen nature of the monitor better by panning across the width of the monitor instead of the shorter height dimension. That being said I'm sure this is personal preference and I see the arguments for both - I'm leaning more and more towards letting the user tell me how they want the text laid out and offering both choices.

I do not intend to charge for this - regardless of what functionality I put in it. I'm heavily leveraging content that I did not produce so I'm not really comfortable with making money on it. I'd rather you give your money towards the GB crew so they can make more content.

Notifications are planned - I'm just now prototyping what they would look like. I'll definitely have a live tile and I'm thinking I'll have opt-in toast notifications.

@EXTomar: In my mind it's about consistency w/ the platform design principles - in this case I can make something that matches the Metro look and feel of Win8. I prefer the more consistent view (and features I can add since I'm not in a browser sandbox). I do not expect everyone to adopt this - nor do I expect to never visit the web site again - for me it's about having options.

@august: I may do something like this in a week or so - I'm still figuring out the logistics of what's required since I can't just hand off an exe and get it to install on your system. I'd love to get some real usage feedback provided I can figure out how.

#29 Posted by banishedsoul1 (294 posts) -

windows don't want

#30 Posted by MordeaniisChaos (5730 posts) -

@TheFaxman: I think my issue is there's so much space between your columns and the articles aren't big enough to take up the screen. I wouldn't want just straight text across my whole screen, which is why I mentioned having it be only across a part of the screen, like the email app formats text, especially given that the formatting used in their stuff seems janky when split into columns and made that skinny.

Eh, I just meant if you asked for money it'd be worth while for me if it had notifications because that would be super useful for me. Right now I use Rockmelt and it doesn't give me a constant notification feed, short of me opening my browser and looking at my side bar. Havnig a little W8 style notification would be awesome.

One thing I'm curious about is how much control you have over the coloring of the app. My least favorite part of the mail app is the color scheme. It's far too bright and white for my tastes and would love something that fit he color scheme that I use on my start menu. I'm curious if you'd be able to add color schemes or even better use the user's chosen color scheme. Not even because I feel like your app needs it, it's good the way it is, but I'd just be curious to see if that's possible, plus it'd be a nice option for folks that prefer the option.

#31 Posted by TheFaxman (50 posts) -

@MordeaniisChaos: I'm stilling playing around with the column formatting so that may change in the future, especially when it comes to column size and spacing. If this is anything like my WP7 app it will take me many rounds before I'm happy with the UI layout - it's very early in terms of development. I may very well try what you suggest at some point as it's clear to me that I need to spend some more time thinking about how this layout would look and try a few different articles of varying sizes.

I have complete control over the coloring within the app so I can do things like themes. I don't have access to the user's color preferences in any way so I can't make it match the start menu coloring, for example.

#32 Posted by MikeHawk (382 posts) -

If the Win8 tablet Microsoft is supposed to announce in an hour is awesome, I'll definitely buy the tablet and this app.

#33 Posted by MordeaniisChaos (5730 posts) -

@TheFaxman: can you make multiple or customizable color schemes?

#34 Posted by TheFaxman (50 posts) -

@MordeaniisChaos: I most likely could do something here - the coloring is almost all CSS so I could swap out classes fairly easily. I'll give it some thought as I build a few more pieces - some ideas on how to do this might jump out as I make more progress.

#35 Posted by MordeaniisChaos (5730 posts) -

@TheFaxman: I was just curious if apps can do that because a lot of the apps on preview desperately need it. thanks for the response!

#36 Posted by TheFaxman (50 posts) -

Another week - another round of updates.

First - before I get into features I figured rather than screenshots this time I'd show the app in motion. I have two videos:

Overview of all the features that are implemented so far

Quick demo of how live tiles are going to look

I've gotten the following up and working since the last update:

  • Bombcasts w/ background audio support
  • Video playback w/ Play To support
  • Support all video resolutions, including HD if you have a subscriber account
  • Automatically switches to a lower resolution on metered networks (3G, etc.)
  • Basic live tile infrastructure - see the video above for how this might look
  • Large number of updates to HTML rendering in app, especially in News articles
  • Metro animations on most items - this really improves the feel of the app
  • Video filtering by category

The work list for the next week:

  • Flesh out live tiles more. I plan to give the user the ability to indicate what kind of updates they're interested in (videos, news, etc.)
  • Investigate push notifications. The current tiles update every 30 minutes. I could make this near real time with a push service - I may see how feasible this is.
  • Refine HTML article rendering some more - there's still a lot of styling I need to do
  • Update some placeholder images (loading image, tile badge)
  • Starting building wiki pages (game, character, etc.)
  • Basic search contract support

I'm hoping I can show some video of this running on an actual tablet fairly soon - maybe in the next week or two.

#37 Posted by blueaniman93 (604 posts) -

The images for the videos look distorted in that form, but you'll fix aesthetics later I'm assuming. I would love a live tile that showed when there was a new quick look. That would be awesome. Also maybe a background podcast downloader so they're ready when I want to listen to them. By the way, love the WP7 app.

#38 Posted by Cubical (637 posts) -

I am sure this would be sweet ass and I was going to buy winsows 8....But I am not since windows 8 sucks balls and I am going to buy 3 more copies of windows 7 wihen it comes out.

#39 Posted by Fascismo (117 posts) -

I would love a "random video" button that is capable of filtering out selected video categories. Its a real bummer that the results from the one on the site are irreversibly skewed by GBs massive trailer library.

#40 Posted by TheFaxman (50 posts) -

@blueaniman93: The original screenshots were not rendering the images in the correct aspect ratio. The video I linked to has an updated version that is rendering them correctly and looks much better.

#41 Posted by blueaniman93 (604 posts) -

@TheFaxman: That's awesome. Just watched the video and it looks great. Also, a really useful feature would be a queue of some sort to put videos you plan on watching later, kind of like the watch later list on YouTube. It would be awesome if you could implement that but understandable if you couldn't. Either way, I'm definitely going to get it when it releases.

#42 Posted by ShadowSkill11 (1783 posts) -

My feelings for Windows 8:

"Hate. Let me tell you how much I've come to hate you since I began to live. There are 387.44 million miles of printed circuits in wafer thin layers that fill my complex. If the word 'hate' was engraved on each nanoangstrom of those hundreds of miles it would not equal one one-billionth of the hate I feel for humans at this micro-instant. For you. Hate. Hate."

Seriously I hate this. Microsoft is designing the interface for this damn thing after XBox Live. One of the worst front ends for anything ever. This is the catalyst that will force Microsoft to fall from grace.

#43 Edited by TheFaxman (50 posts) -

Time for some quick progress updates. My current plan is to release some form of Beta for those that are interested in early August.

Since the last update I've worked on the following:

  • Support for live chats
  • Search support (nearly finished)
  • New widescreen grid layout with item highlights
  • Adjusted text formatting quite a bit - it looks much better now
  • Performance improvements
  • Full live tile support. The tiles will now filter out subscriber items if you haven't connected your subscription to the app.

Work items for the next few weeks:

  • More wiki pages
  • More performance tweaks for lower end tablets
  • Secondary tiles (pin any page to the start screen w/ live updates)
  • Push notifications for real time article updates
  • Share & file picker contracts - be able to open giant bomb videos directly from any Win8 media application or share a Giant Bomb link directly with an app like mail or a twitter client.

Some screenshots:

#44 Posted by mscupcakes (612 posts) -

I don't know if I'll be using any of the metro apps if I do upgrade to Windows 8 but this looks fantastic! :D