What’s new in the web player v3.1?
- Improved audio engine supporting HLS in Flash and AAC in HTML5
- Responsive layout
- First-run familiarisation experience
- EU Cookie Compliance notices
- Video ad support for VAST and AdsWizz
- Now Playing ticker improvements
Improved Audio Engine
The Radioplayer audio engine keeps on getting better. We now support HLS in Flash and have now added full support for AAC in HTML5. AAC/AAC+ has been available in Flash for a while but this is the first time we’ve been able to formally support it.
The engine is smarter now too. It can tell whether your device has Flash or HTML5 and will work out whether or not it can play the stream. No need to specify a separate HTML5 stream. There’s also support for backup streams so you can provide a list of streams you’d like the web player to attempt to play each and it’ll work its way through them.
For AAC users, it means you can provide an FLV-encapsulated stream as your first stream, since the web player always tests for Flash first, and an unencapsulated pure AAC stream as your secondary stream, which will be used in the event of no Flash.
Or if you like to load-balance your servers, you can do it this way instead of playlist files, thus avoiding the horrors of crossdomain.xml
Because the web player is sometimes opened in full size browser windows, we recognised that the layout could be more versatile. Primarily the console still must be opened in a popup window – but if it’s not for whatever reason, it can expand to a wider, more tablet-friendly layout. That’s not all. We’ve tweaked the controls to make them work better with touch interfaces.
The content (plugin) space has been improved. The console will allow you to lift-and-shift your previous content (plugin) space as it defaults to a fixed width. But if you want to go all-in and have developers who can help, you can switch the console to have a responsive content (plugin) space too.
First run familiarisation experience and EU cookie compliance
Video ad support – VAST and AdsWizz
The Radioplayer web player now lets you display video ads in the content (plugin) space. Radioplayer will never insert adverts into this space – this is for your benefit only. If your station is selling video inventory, you can show a pre-roll video ad here, so long as it supports VAST. For stations which have joined AdsWizz, either directly or via schemes like DAX, we have built a solution to support server-side AdsWizz pre-roll and mid-stream ads, with companion visuals.
Stations needing more sophisticated solutions can contact us about VPAID. We no longer support niche providers directly but the web player is versatile enough for a good developer to adapt and we can recommend developers with Radioplayer experience if need be.
Now Playing ticker improvements
The Now Playing ticker has been upgraded to a Now and Next ticker. If you send us Programme Events (PE) via our metadata service, and you send us this data in advance then we will show the next track coming up. It should be noted that if you just use our simple Now Playing API, you can’t show the next event – you need to use the full-fat ingest service. It’s free to get an API account and we have plenty of documentation so consider upgrading. Also, if you use Song Actions, the good news is that we’ll show a song action for the next track too.
- IE7 is no longer supported, IE8 is offered with limited support – Flash streaming only, minimal features. Windows XP is not supported but IE8 on Win XP has been tested and works to the extent we support IE8
- Interstitials are deprecated – we noticed stations weren’t using this feature, so we’re taking it away
- HTML5-only stream has been replaced with the list of streams as mentioned at the start
- Overlays which are managed from your Station Control Panel will be going away soon, but overlays managed client-side will continue to work. If you need to use the overlay space, you’ll still be able to, but will need a developer to set it up.
- RTMP streaming is only supported in Flash. We will continue to support it for as long as Adobe supports it in Flash but ensure a backup stream in another format is provided so that non-Flash devices still work.
Check out the user guide PDF at the bottom of this article and your ZIP download will contain a copy of the integration guide for developers, located in the /docs folder
What’s new in the browser player v3?
- Plays on iPad with HTML 5 Audio playback
- Extended codec support for Flash playback
- Clearer interface with new transport controls, new Radioplayer menu, and ‘now playing’ ticker
- Enhanced Search engine
- Search suggestions as you type
- Automated recommendations – as used in the Radioplayer mobile and tablet apps
- Easier to use station favouriting and enhanced listen history
- Upgraded central management systems, including new ‘console generator’ and analytics coming soon
- New commercial opportunities with Interstitials, Overlays and song ‘click-to-buy’ linking
- Easier for stations to set up, including ‘localisation’ language packs
HTML 5 Audio playback
The Radioplayer console has retained the tried and trusted Flash EMP (embedded media player). However, with tablet and smartphone browsing on the increase, the Radioplayer console now has support for HTML 5. It will detect whether Flash is present and if not, it will attempt playback using the HTML 5 engine. This is automatic and requires no customisation by stations, however we recommend you have an mp3 stream available. HTML 5 audio is limited in the codecs supported, and performs well with mp3.
Extended codec support
For stations looking to consolidate their streams, it is now possible to stream AAC directly into the Radioplayer console over HTTP. Previously, although it was possible, it wasn’t easy. Now we’ve extended support for audio type httpmp4m4a which allows this. For RTMP streams, we can also detect in-stream metadata and display it in the Now Playing Ticker. This data is also available on an internal API, so that stations can integrate easily with commercial in-stream systems.
Refreshed user interface
The V3 console retains everything people love about Radioplayer – but with a flatter, contemporary, more logical layout. Search remains front-and-centre, encouraging greater discovery of UK radio. And now we’ve introduced a Radioplayer Menu which allows access to common functions across the Radioplayer platform. It’s easier to see all the stations in Radioplayer, with a new A-Z list. We’ve also added tabs for recommendations and much-loved features like My Stations (presets/favourites). We’ve also refreshed the transport controls (play/stop/pause etc), and brought the ‘now playing’ information into a new ticker.
Simplified console branding
Previous consoles offered a myriad of skinning options which were often difficult to understand and sometimes needed some heavy CSS hacking. We’ve simplified this. Transport controls are available in the familiar dark and light schemes but their colours are fixed. No more tinkering with buttons and transparencies to make the controls work with your branding.
Background images and colours are still supported, and we’ve liberated more space for station logos – you now have a full 220 pixels of width available. Enough room to elegantly brand the top of your console. The content (plugin) space remains exactly the same as before, so if you’re in a rush to deploy the new console, then you can lift your V3 content (plugin) space and insert it here. See the new styleguide for more info.
Enhanced Search engine
We’ve listened to feedback from stations and users on search. You get suggestions as you type, which means users can find your content even faster. We group suggestions by live and on-demand, and refine as the user continues typing. Full search results are still available for those who hit “Enter” or click the search icon. You can now filter those full results to show live or catchup.
These are popular in the mobile and tablet apps, and we’re now offering Recommendations in the menu section of the console. We present a list of stations and catchup, based on who’s trending at the moment, who’s nearby and the last station the user listened to.
In browsers, people like using their History to find their most-visited sites easily. So we’ve added ‘recent stations’ to the Radioplayer menu.
Enhanced favouriting with My Stations
And in previous versions of the console, adding stations to presets has been too fiddly. We’ve made it much easier. You can favourite a station by clicking the heart either directly from the transport controls or from entries in any of the lists within the Radioplayer Menu. Also in the menu, a user can see all the stations they’ve added to their ‘My Stations’ list and easily edit the list by toggling the heart icon.
This is a brand new feature. The v3 console features a Now Playing ticker below the transport controls. It’s designed to surface the name of the track currently on air at the moment – and when that’s not available, it will show the name of the programme, or a description of the station, all pulled from our central systems.
When our systems detect that what’s on air is a track, you can configure your console to display an icon next to the track title. This is called a Song Action and we’ve offered a few to choose from including “BUY”, “INFO” and a number of others. You can then provide a destination URL and we will append the track details to it, in a way you can specify. So you can link to any music affiliate – or just Wikipedia.
Interstitials and Overlays
Interstitials and certain types of Overlays have been deprecated in 3.1
We’ve introduced two new ways you can run promos or ad campaigns in the console.
Interstitials are takeovers, the full size of the popped browser, shown before a user hits the console itself. You can enable these in the Station Control Panel (or set them up in the console code). They’re great if you want to show a full-console video advert, an interactive ad or even a splash page promoting a big upcoming event/OB. As it’s just a page of HTML, you can build whatever you like here – it’s designed to be versatile. Interstitials, when enabled, only appear when a user launches your station from your website – not if they find it through Search or items in the Radioplayer menu.
Overlays are slightly different. These are panels which appear over just the console content (plugin) space (bottom section). They’re great for showing display ads and, when switched on in the Station Control Panel, will appear every time a user loads the console. When you enable it, you just provide the URL where the ad can be found, and it will load in an iFrame. It’s also possible for stations to show the panel DURING a listening session (instead of before it), so you can add visuals to a targeted ad break, for instance. Depending on the content of the overlay (eg video), you can set your stream to mute during the display.
 Requires compatible streaming server