Android Marshmallow Adopt SD Cards As Internal Storage

In Android 6.0, a new feature “Adoptable Storage” feature was introduced. As we make syncing, media apps, this feature is something that I want to breakdown for our customers.

Basically, when you adopt an SD card as internal storage, the SD card becomes the “new” internal storage of the system, which is super convenient. Apps install on the SD card with ease and apps like iSyncr will just show a single, easy to use storage area. However, this ease of use comes with a price. Your SD card will not be as fast or reliable as the internal memory. Further, the original internal memory is only usable for apps, the best I can tell.



Pros:
  • Easy to use
  • Your SD card is much more secure
  • No "grant access" cumbersome UI for SD card access
Cons:
  • Internal storage isn't usable for music/photos/video
  • Your SD card won't work in other devices until reformatted
  • SD cards are almost always slower than internal memory
  • SD cards are not reliable, and when they corrupt, it won't be pretty


In conclusion, if you have a lot of internal storage (more than 8GB), then we generally do not recommend adopting an SD card as internal storage, as you are going to lose space where you could have put music/pictures/videos. However, if you have 8GB or less of internal storage, adopting an SD card is a viable option for easily expanding the storage size of your phone.

If you have further questions/thoughts/comments or a looking to solve an issue with our products, please email us!

-Justin

Four years with MTP

Media Transfer Protocol or MTP was introduced to Android in Honeycomb (Android 3.0). I remember the first device we had with the new protocol, the Motorola Xoom. Ahh the joy! No, wait, not joy, terror. That's the word. Terror.

Why? Because at the time iSyncr was written to use Universal Mass Storage or UMS when connecting over a USB connection. The introduction of MTP required a major update to iSyncr, which created iSyncr Desktop as a way to transfer iTunes to Android. For several months, we didn't know if iSyncr would make it!

Fast forward to today and MTP is still a primary connection mode that iSyncr uses, but it's not without its problems. Many customers and others we follow have reported problems with MTP including freezes to Windows Explorer on a PC when connecting. We've seen this ourselves in our testing as well as received reports of this occurring from our customers.

MTP, unlike UMS can only execute a single action (delete, write, read) at a time. So iSyncr customers expecting a quick sync to update a few files may be disappointed in the speed they receive when connecting over MTP because of this limitation. Additionally, MTP, unlike UMS cannot transfer metadata changes. For example, if you change a tag in iTunes, but had already synced the song to your device, to see the change on your device, you'd need to delete the file from your device and resync. Other less documented issues include MTP's inability to consistently sync m3u files causing problems for iSyncr customers who want to update their playlists. Now, before I move on and receive emails about inaccuracies in the post, MTP did bring some positive things, mainly that users can no longer can corrupt their storage by disconnecting the device before properly ejecting the storage for safe disconnect. For those of you that long for the olden UMS days to sync we can sync using an SD card reader with this tutorial video.
Shortly after MTP was released, we packaged iSyncr WiFi along with USB syncing instead of separate products to give customers the option to work around MTP issues. We've even gone so far as to recommend first-time customers to use WiFi syncing over USB simply because of the consistency, reliability and overall experience WiFi syncing brings.

Marshmallow, (Android 6.0) defaults to the charge connection, unlike its predecessors back to Honeycomb, instead of MTP. This has prompted one indie-developer to createMTP enabler as a way to quickly connect to MTP. To use MTP Enabler, you need to have a rooted device and be running Android 6.0. We're not exactly sure why Google's decided to give charge priority over MTP, it could be some of the problems highlighted above, something else entirely or a mistake that will be changed in Android N (Android 7.0) set to be released at Google I/O this summer.

iTunes album ratings

Starting with iTunes 12 you can now rate both songs and albums in iTunes.

Now if you rate an album, but not its songs, all the songs of the album get light gray stars. Unfortunately this "feature" cannot be turned off. You can read more about the frustration iTunes customers are feeling. Imagine the live list playlist carnage! Ratings are created for songs that were previously unrated! Worse than that any rating that's added to a song appropriates through to the entire album! Take a look at the image below to see more about what we mean.

Fear not friends! We have been hard at work in the sunny JRT studio office have devised a solution. Starting in iSyncr Desktop 5.1.6 . Album ratings will be ignored when we sync iTunes to Android. Your song ratings will continue to work as they have in iTunes 11 and prior so you can maintain ratings in iSyncr, Rocket Player or any music player with iSyncr's ratings widget.

360 Total Security Malware False-Positive

Customers running 360 Total Security on their PC have reported after initially installing iSyncr Desktop, 360 Total Security will flag iSyncr Desktop as untrustworthy malware. After numerous reports and attempts to contact 360 Total Security about this issue, we're writing this blog post to clear up malware concerns for our customers.

Security and privacy is a top priority for us, so we launched an investigation of iSyncr Desktop on our own. What we found was that iSyncr Desktop is still virus/malware free. Making this report by 360 Total Security a false-positive. While this is not uncommon to happen every once in a while, antivirus companies know this. They will allow you to request an examination explaining the issue and white-listing the application upon their review. We have walked through this process with 360 Total Security with no response from their side.

You don't have to take our word for it. You can scan iSyncr Desktop with with Virus Total as recommended by How to Geek. The report states that 54/55 Virus scanners including McAfee, Avast, Microsoft and more display a malware/virus-free status for iSyncr Desktop.

If you still have concerns, please reach out to us and we will send checksums at your request.

Dealing With Amazon

Update 12-10-15: We have again received reports from our customers that they've been unable to install Rocket Player Premium. If you are experiencing issues please contact us.

Update 12-7-15: We have received word from Amazon that Rocket Player Premium should now be working with the Amazon Appstore on Lollipop.

This is just a quick note that, yes, we are aware that Amazon isn't letting you download the Rocket Player Premium Unlocker to your Lollipop Amazon Kindle device. Why? Well, we still aren't sure. The unlocker app is probably the simplest app we've ever built. Nothing in Lollipop (Android 5.0) should affect it. When we look in our dev console, everything looks rosy. See?

The last email that we received from Amazon regarding this app said "RESULTS: YOUR APP WILL BE AVAILABLE ON ALL TARGETED DEVICES". We received this email on April 9th, 2015.

For now, we are stuck waiting on Amazon to tell us why they are not distributing the unlocker. We've gotten one response email that said "it don't work", with no more information. We've got 40+ test devices and are confident it does work. We would use the emulator image from Amazon to confirm further, but one does not exist for Lollipop.

We'll keep you updated when more information comes along, but this is a shame for our customers, Amazon and all the lost time that could have been spent making improvements and bug fixes instead of dealing with Amazon. If you are an affected customer, email [email protected] and we'll do our best to help you side load Rocket Player while we wait on Amazon to give us more information than "it doesn't work".

-Justin

DIY Rockstar, a guide for professional home recording and publishing

Hi all, Andrew here and I wanted to take a break from JRT news to have a little fun. For those that don't know I am the designer here at JRT, but by night I am a musician & artist. I've played in multiple bands and love music to my core! This is for the DIY Rockstar, a guide for professional home recording and publishing.

I wrote this to empower individuals and eliminate the same recycled garbage come over my speakers when I listen to the radio. If you have visited Austin, you’ll know great music is out there. With the emergence of new technology, the market is primed for the emergence of indie artists. The balance of power is shifting from publishers to producers. You don't have to hope to get noticed through a contest or a record company inundated with submissions from indie artists. This post will walk you through how to record, publish, and promote music on Spotify, Google Play, Apple Music, iTunes, Beats, Rdio, Deezer, and more. This way, the next time I turn on the radio, I hear something new!

Now I can’t promise fortune and fame, but I can promise you will record and publish your music and you’ll sound like a pro.

Part One, Recording - Software & Hardware

Software DAW First things first, you need a DAW or Digital Audio Workstation. This is where you will record, edit, mix and master your audio files. I have used a few DAW’s but my favorite is Logic Pro X. I like Logic Pro, because it has intuitive and powerful features. It also comes packed with software instruments including drums, keyboards, and synthesizers.

Other great options are Audacity (free), Ableton, Pro Tools, FL Studio, Reason, Garageband and Cubase. I’ve heard great sound come from all of these tools. The best advice I can give is check your budget, read reviews, and download demos. The software varies greatly in price, so I would start with something lower cost, until you are comfortable with what you are doing. Logic Pro currently sits at $200, while Audacity and Garageband are free.

Hardware Audio Interface Now, that we have our software figured out, we need to connect guitars or microphones to the computer. Audio interfaces are designed for just that. There are many options out there, I currently use the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, total cost $150. The Scarlett 2i2 has minimal latency, 2 inputs and connects via USB.

Guitars I am a minimalist when it comes to set up. I live in an apartment so I don’t have a ton of space for large amps, drums, and equipment - not to mention.. I have neighbors. You can record with an instrument mic, which I do with acoustic guitar, but when it comes to electric guitar I think the best solution out there is Pod Farm. Pod Farm by Line 6 puts all the power and sound of hundreds of amps in a plug-in. They have a free demo as well as a $99 option or a $299 option. There are some awesome videos on YouTube that demo the pod farm sounds.

Drums Again, coming from a minimalist, drums take up a ton of space, are expensive, are a pain to record and take a lot of time cleaning up sounds when you record them live. Solution? Toontrack’s Superior Drummer and EZ Drummer. Superior drummer comes with 20GB of studio quality drum samples. The cool thing for guitarists is that Superior Drummer also comes with grooves, or beats, that you can drag and drop to your tracks! When you mix pod farm with superior drummer, you get a studio quality sound with very little work and you’ll have a ton of extra space in your apartment!

Microphone & Vocals Vocals are one of the most difficult instruments to record. Everyone prefers different microphones, and I admittedly am not an expert on microphones. I have watched many YouTube video reviews and tried out different microphones. After buying (and returning) a couple of mics to Guitar Center, the mic I am currently using is an AKG c 214. I absolutely love it, it has a really great warm sound to it.

Now that you have all your Software & Hardware set up, it is time to record your music! You should be able to create just about anything with the tools outlined. Lets not forget, the most important thing is your imagination. Hardware and Software are just tools to get your creation out. Creativity in the sound and self-promoting will be what set you apart.

Part Two, Self-Publishing THIS is where I want to share a gem I found, and what I wish I would have known when I was 16. I use a service called Distrokid. Here is a quick highlight pulled straight from their website:
“We'll get your music into iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon, Google Play, Tidal, Beats, Deezer, Rdio, YouTube Music Key and 150+ other stores & streaming services.
Keep 100% of your royalties, get paid monthly.
In stores 10-20x faster than any other distributor, at a fraction of the price.
Pay only $19.99 to upload unlimited albums & songs for a year (competitors charge at least 2x that just to upload one album).
Bonus features! DistroKid can help you distribute cover songs legally, and get you paid when other people use your music in YouTube”

Pretty awesome right? I have been using them for about 7 months and I can tell you they have been absolutely great so far. It is incredibly easy to upload new songs and release them. So far I have paid $20 for unlimited uploading of songs, and made about $30. While I may not be buying anything with rims anytime soon, it is extremely rewarding to publish your own music. Heck you can publish your music, download it and use Ringtone Maker to make Ringtones out of your own music! How cool is that?!

Part Three, Self-Promoting All the tools are there for you to create and publish, how ‘successful’ you are will depend on how crafty you are at promoting. I would suggest using all the social media sites you can and play shows all around. No one will know about you if you don’t tell them. It is hard to have self confidence in your creations and open up to the possibility of failure or success. Sometimes the fear of failure keeps us from doing things where we can be successful.

Let me leave you with this quote:
"Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat." - Teddy Roosevelt

So go on, put yourself out there, make some music and have some fun doing it!

Recap: Recommendations and set up

DAW for recording and mixing | Logic Pro X or Audacity (free) cost | free - $200
Scarlett 2i2 cost | $149
Guitars | Pod Farm 2.5 cost | $99 - 299
Drums | Superior Drummer (Toontrack) or EZ Drummer cost | $179-249
Vocals | AKG c 214 Microphone cost | $250, ~100 for lower end mics
instrument and guitar cable, headphones - varies
Total cost | $527 and up. You may be able to scour craigslist for used equipment and save some cash! Also, a lot of the Software providers have deals for Cyber Monday.
Thanks for reading. Questions, comments, equipment recommendations??? Email me at [email protected] I'd love to hear from you! Cheers!

-Andrew

Music Lock Screens in Android Lollipop (5.0)

Default Android lock screens that control Rocket Player and other music applications are no longer able to be used in Lollipop. We now have only two options for lockscreen in Rocket Player, Rocket Player's lockscreen & off.


By default, now, if you adjust no settings and have a lock screen enabled on your device, your experience should look like the image below.


Many customers were disappointed about this change. We determined that what most of our customers missed was the option to hide album art but also control their music. This option remains available in KitKat and earlier Android OS's with the "Default Lock screen (No Art)". However, since lock screens are no longer available in Lollipop we need to use the notification on a lockscreen to control playback.

We have the option to control music while hiding background album art with our new feature available in Rocket Player 3.4.1. This option was created mainly for use with Android Wear, but it will work for us as well here too!


Turning off Rocket Player's "Operation - Android Wear", then rebooting your device will allow you to display notifications but without album art listed in the background. Additionally if you didn't want a notification at all, turning this setting off will allow no art to be displayed when your screen is locked.

Rocket Player "Randomly Stopping" Issues

Rocket Player 'Randomly Stops'

Recently, Rocket Player has been battling several different issues causing it to "Randomly Stop". Chris and I answer several emails a day where this is the case, and at this point, I'd like to cover this a little more in-depth. Before the deep dive, let me give you the quick summary.

  1. Update Rocket Player
      Many issues are solved by updating to Rocket Player 3.4.1.20 or higher. We hope to have this version fully rolled out be mid-August 2015. Join our beta program to get this version now.

  2. Pause
      Rocket Player 3.4.1.20 has an issue with the "Duck" focus option. Please use the "Pause" focus option, which is the default, until your version is higher than 3.4.1.20.

  3. Android 5.0
      Android 5.0 seems to have some underlying issues that cannot always be solved. We've reproduced this issue in other music players. Samsung's own player isn't affected by this.

  4. Android 5.1
      So far, Android 5.1 with Rocket Player 3.4.1.30 or higher seems to perform much better than Android 5.0

  5. Device Memory
      Rocket Player can always be killed by the system when running in the background. How much free memory is always a factor. If you have a device such as a Moto G with 1GB of RAM and browse the web with 15 Chrome tabs, the system will eventually kill Rocket Player. Android makes no guarantees if you are not actively looking at an app.

  6. Battery Savers
      Rocket Player can be killed when a battery saver is used. Many device manufacturers have added this feature on Android 5.0 and later. Often times, your device will "switch to battery-saving mode" at a certain battery percentage. If you have a battery saving feature enabled, it can kill Rocket Player.


Rocket Player Randomly Stops

Gory Details

Rocket Player 3.4.1.20

Not much to say here. I made some mistakes and had bugs that shouldn't exist. For Rocket Player 3.4.1.20, I re-wrote a bunch of code to ensure that if Rocket Player randomly stops, it is because the Android system kills us, or an audio engine crash occurs. For the most part, I think this new code works. I've only found one new issue, which is with the alternative ducking focus.

Pause

Nothing to add either.

Android 5.0

OK. Android 5.0. Galaxy S6. I'm looking at you. Why are you constantly out of memory? Using a USB cable and Android Debug Bridge (adb), I was constantly gathering data on my Galaxy S6 to figure out why after about 45 mins of playing, a notification would kill Rocket Player. Here is the command that I used "adb shell dumpsys activity processes > tmp.txt". This command generates a tmp.txt file with the system's priority for killing processes. From that information I could see two things. The first is that the system was always stressed. Most processes had a "trim level" of 15, which means the system has warned all processes that it is low on memory and heads will roll if memory usage isn't dropped. The second thing I noticed is that Rocket Player's priority was dropped below ten or fifteen processes. Despite being a foreground process actively playing music, the system decided that Rocket Player wasn't more important than Google Quick Search, Notification Reading Services, Google Play Services and much more. So after thirty plus minutes of playing music, a text message would come in a create memory pressure, then the system would say "hey, that Rocket Player app isn't important, let's kill it so that the text messaging app can load." I have concluded that this issue isn't my fault. I started other music players, and they were all ordered in the list with the same priority and they, like Rocket Player, would be killed once the system just ran out of RAM. The worst part of all this is that the S6 has tons of memory. Rebooting the phone is the only temporary work around I have for this issue.

Android 5.1

Luckily, Android 5.1 seems to be doing much better, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the whole OS is just taking less RAM in Android 5.1. When I view the "adb shell dumpsys activity processes > tmp.txt" command with Android 5.1, Rocket Player is still lower in the priority list than I'd expect, BUT the system isn't under any stress, with all the same apps installed. Perhaps this will change when I don't reboot for a couple of weeks, but it is a good start.

Device Memory

Now for the sad, true part. No matter your version of Android, some Android apps (i.e. Chrome) set flags that give them access to tons and tons of RAM. If you run enough programs that take up enough RAM, Rocket Player can eventually be killed. That is just a fact of life. Now, to be perfectly clear, we want to hear from you. Email [email protected] if you are seeing Rocket Player randomly stop, don't assume that this is your issue. With a log file, we can usually diagnose what is happening, and if it isn't a low memory situation, we can see if I've just made another coding error. So let us know if you are still seeing Rocket Player randomly die while you are listening to music.

-Justin

Amazon Updates Seem Delayed

For those of you who do not know, we're excited to be releasing Rocket Player 3.3 shortly. Over the past five years our customers have supported us on both the Amazon Appstore and Google Play; we're thrilled to continue to offer Rocket Player updates on both app stores, as well as to our PayPal customers. To all of you, we say "Thank you!" and hope that you'll continue rocking with Rocket Player.

Through our continuous contact with our customers, we understand that sometimes our Amazon subscribers feel a little left out. Customers have expressed their displeasure with our seemingly "slow" updates of Rocket Player to the Amazon Appstore. Amazon does not allow us to update applications as quickly as Google Play, or our internal server (PayPal); so this takes a little more time in the process. Amazon, (for the good and protection of its customers) forces applications through a timely review process before updates are released.

It's for this reason that the Amazon Appstore will continue to receive Rocket Player updates, but these updates will be when Rocket Player is fully stable. This version will represent the best of the many iterations Rocket Player sees. As we iterate on Rocket Player, we utilize Google Play's rollouts feature. For instance, Rocket Player may only be rolled out to 1% of Google Play users when you see something that makes you think that Rocket Player on the Play Store is far ahead of Amazon.

QUICK ANSWERS:

Google Play has an updated but not the Amazon Appstore?
We're a three person team, the time it takes us to update and be approved by the Amazon Appstore does not allow us to be effective with our limited time. It is not always the case that everyone on Google Play is receiving the update.

Why should I download from the Amazon Appstore instead of another store?
The Amazon Appstore is a great store! If you happen to catch us in the short time where is appears behind, don't worry! We are committed to updating the Amazon Appstore to the same version as Android.

Norton Anti-Virus And iSyncr Desktop

iSyncr Desktop has no known virus' at this time. However, Norton products are falsely identifying it as having a virus. This should be resolved with the next Norton virus definition update. For some customers, Norton Anti-virus 360 flagged iSyncr as a threat to their PC when trying to download iSyncr Desktop. Immediately we took action by contacting Norton. If anyone continues to receive this threat after updating to the latest version of Norton, or any other anti-virus warning please contact us.
Special thanks to Ben Davies who reported this.

Update 7/28/15:

iSyncr Desktop continues to receive false-positives from anti-virus software inaccurately warning customers not to download iSyncr Desktop. iSyncr Desktop has no known virus' or issues with malware. If you receive one of these messages, please contact us immediately so that we may speak with your anti-virus company.

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