Monthly Archives: April 2012

2nd Team Meeting – Confirm Requirements & Specification for Synote Mobile – 26th April, 2012

Mike and Yunjia thinking about things.

Mike and Yunjia thinking about things.

The team meeting held on 26th April had a simple agenda of confirming the user requirements and specification for Synote Mobile,  based on discussions with colleagues and students in the Web and Internet Science research group and others who have been helping us to debate specific issues and concerns.

Screen size issues

Synote mobile needs to work on mobile phone screens as well as tablet or slate screens – taking the iPhone and iPad as prime examples of the differences it is clear that two versions will need to be developed.

The program should automatically detect the device and load the corresponding page or style sheet. Here are two useful resources:

Yunjia discussed some useful links to help with these requirements:

Best practices for Device detection with Media Queries 

Adding Mobile Views to your Grails Applications with JQuery Mobile: A Real Life Example 

Twitter bootstrap 

Delivery of the videos

The video resources should be delivered in an adaptive way, i.e. devices with low resolution and bandwidth need to download smaller file sizes.

The iPad and iPhone media player does not allow for integrated note taking or annotations so it is proposed that there will be an HTML player version of Synote.

As is mentioned in a blog that discusses the insertion of a video or audio playing link for these devices - the player will take over the fullscreen when playing,so it will not be possible to have a split screen version of the transcriptions or the annotations. Therefore it is proposed that there will be a thumbnail picture displayed alongside the video with the annotations. It is felt that there is a requirement for the extraction of thumbnail pictures when creating annotations.

audio player in iphone

Taken from Ploem.be blog as an example of an audio file playing.

HTML5 Players

Considerations around the HTML5 player used have to include the best accessibility options, but with browser differences this is not easy to achieve. HTML video.org offer a helpful comparison of players.

Format Compatibility

Different devices cause format compatibility complications and Safari, Google Chrome and mobile IE also have different support mechanisms for HTML video codec. This means the delivery of multimedia resources has to be adaptable.

Touch interface

There needs to be careful consideration given to the type of gesture driven / tap type controls. Users who wish to have VoiceOver controls will affect the gestures that can be used within not only the player but also the webpages.  It has already been stressed that there is a need to keep clutter to a minimum and therefore there must not be too many buttons in the screen.  It was confirmed that the design would aim to abide by the accessible and ease of use design concepts mentioned in the blog “Research – Planning for an easy to use and accessible mobile app.” 

Despite the issues and concerns raised it is intended that the specifications being developed will have the bonus of offering

  • Web browser access – No app store download needed
  • Automatic enhancements – No need to connect to an app store for updates
  • Speed – adaptive performance on most connections
  • Automatic adjustment of presentation – depending on device screen size
  • Use of existing accounts.

Nutshell – Synote Mobile in 140 characters

Synote mobile logo

Synote Mobile provides users with the ability to access, search, manage and exploit video and audio OER whilst on the move.

Synote Mobile meets the need to make web-based video and audio Open Educational Resources easier to access, search, manage, and exploit.  The recordings can be viewed and repurposed with annotations and tags. Many UK students carry mobile devices capable of replaying video, but lack the interactive apps that encourage learning, Synote Mobile provides a collaborative experience with additional personalisation.

Research – Streaming videos onto mobile phones

Since the OER meeting we have been exploring the issues around streaming video on mobile phones and tablets. It appears the latter is easier than the former! We have also been exploring all the web pages of those we met up with at the meeting to see how we can collaborate to stream data from these sites into Synote Mobile but more on that later!

The state of HTML 5 and video is well explained by LongTail Video and it looks as if this is the way to go when one wants to deliver a cross platform service. However, there are issues around fullscreen viewing with iPhones as the video is not presented within the webpage so is no longer browser based as can be seen from the BBC news screen grabs taken on an iPhone 4S.

BBC News iPhone screen captureBBC video iPhone screen capture

This fullscreen issue makes it impossible to add captions unless they are included when the video is made.  Closed captioning is explained by Longtail video.com with the support provided by JWPlayer and it is clear that external files will be unable to be read with the method presently used by iPhones for rendering videos.

There are several pros and cons when researching the different HTML 5 players and the methods they use to support captioning.  A recent blog on Salt Websites offers several options, but the author has come to the same conclusion that we have reached namely:

“Now after all this effort to get your videos working on iOS I have to give you the bad news – the iPhone does not show subtitles! They put the video into full-screen mode and ignore the subtitles. ”

 

The gauntlet has been thrown down …

gauntlet thrown down