Work In Progress : Big Screen Headlines 2
Some of you may have noticed that Big Screen Headlines v1 trial has expired on the mobilewares site (and hasn’t been updated) – and the reason for this has been the imminent release of new update – Big Screen Headline v2.
If you haven’t seen Big Screen Headlines before – it’s a RSS Browser for Vista Media Center – and was released back in Oct last year (before Vista was RTM’d).
For the v2 release - this update started off as a minor UI facelift – and in the course of things – the entire MCML UI and underlying .NET code layer was pretty much rewritten – so it’s in fact an almost entirely new product (which has similarities in structure/navigation to the original).
The beta for this will be released very very soon (I’m hoping in the next week – however a few other things need to coincide with it’s release – such as online registration system, which is nearly done too!). As intended for the Big Screen Products – Big Screen Headlines v2 will soon be a commercial/for-sale product (potentially around US$15-25 – the price of a couple of beers at a good nightspot) – sooner rather than later (depending on outcome of public beta). As with other releases – there will be plenty of opportunity to download it and try it out to see if it’s up to scratch for you – with most likely a 30 day trial period.
There’s a bunch of new features in this release - namely ‘better support’ for a lot of different RSS extensions and the way these parsed and presented – but a lot of focus was also on the actual UI and pageflow (and how that could be improved from the initial v1 release). It’s also planned that the look/feel of UI itself will be reused for future Big Screen Products. (to enable some consistency for the brand/product range).
A quick summary of (some) of the major enhancements include (see screenshots below for more examples) :
- Brand new UI system. Most notably – the new 4 way main menu (XBox360 dashboard style) allowing quicker access to content.
- Enhanced article display /parsing of HTML content - allowing for viewing articles as they were originally intended with new support for embedded images (where various images are contained within the article text.).
- Enhanced parsing of RSS Feeds and new extensions (ie RSS Media, Atom, iTunes, iPhotos etc etc) – with display/extraction of things like thumbnails, comments, ratings etc.
- Enhanced viewing/filtering/sorting/grouping when viewing of Feeds/Lists of feeds – including several sort types, forward/reverse ordering – plus ability to alter text sizes (for low/high res screens) and change the view style (ie change how big items are and whether you just see headlines or they expand to reveal more information when highlighted).
- Support for dynamic OPML 2.0 includes – which means you can point to OPML files from inside the presets rather than hardcoded RSS URL’s. This feature works a treat for places like TheDigitalLifestyle.com who publish an OPML file (containing all the podcasts, blogs and video feeds they have) and regularly add (and remove) their available feeds. (so you don’t need to worry about managing each individual feed). You can also point to a local OPML file (which might be regularly updated from your rss reader on another machine).
- Direct access to latest Subscribed feed items (as a whole) from main menu (so you can see latest news items from main menu without viewing any feeds)
- View Comments feeds from News Items
- Lots of new preset feeds / opml links for better updating of available content.
- Quick and Easy Export Subscribed Feeds into an OPML file (so it can be used when in Extender mode).
There’s also a few more new tricks it can do as well which I won’t go into here in detail – but since pictures tell a thousand words here’s some to keep you happy (click on each image to get the Full size screenshot) -:
Main Menu Screens – (showing Subscribed feeds, Latest Items and More menu)
Viewing Articles - (Article with embedded Images, Video playback with enhanced buffering, Comments view)
View Feeds – (Enhanced Grouping/Display, Video RSS Feed with thumbnails, iPhoto Stream with thumbnails)
Viewing/Sorting Options via popup and flyout buttons - (Change View Size, and View Style)
Browse Feeds - (View Favorites, View Dynamic OPML feed)
Anyhow – look forward to this one very very soon..
Please note that OEM customers who’s vendors officially purchased Big Screen Headlines v1 OEM licenses for them (you will have been given a certificate and Serial Number) – will automatically be upgraded to v2 (full license) for free.