Synthesia for iPad's Usability

Archived development update discussion from past versions
Archived development updates.
Nicholas
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Post by Nicholas »

I showed the nearly complete 2nd beta to my brother this past weekend during a family function. His technical level is extremely high (another software guy like me, actually) but he'd never really spent any time with Synthesia's interface before. This made him unique vs. all the other volunteer beta testers that are already long-time Synthesia users. Watching over his shoulder while he fumbled around in the interface was... edifying. Even better: since seeing Synthesia's poor showing first-hand, I've recalled a number of historic forum posts that either pointed out the problems or suggested solutions to them.

I'm not 100% convinced yet, but I am considering upending the tea table based on my impressions.

Synthesia is tremendously complex for an iPad app

I've slowly been making progress on the desktop for years now, but the amount of work you still have to put in to get what you want is disproportionately large for an iPad app. Apple recommends a rule where you drop features not used by at least 80% of your users in order to keep things simple. When I started thinking of how to apply this to Synthesia, it was kind of neat to see the way the interface might unravel.

For example, imagine removing profiles altogether. Not only do you drop a tab on the settings screen, a button on the title screen, and a column in the various score charts... suddenly the title screen is starting to look a little like it doesn't need to exist anymore. There could just be a settings button in the song library.

More on this later.

Mobile users are used to buying content, not features

So the first thing my brother did was try to find a song he recognized in the lists (after being guided that "G Major Music Theory" was the category he was looking for). As soon as he picked one, I was like "uh... here, go over to [the Learning Pack screen] and pick one of these six so you can actually see the good stuff". That's when it occurred to me that virtually everyone's first impression of Synthesia is to not see it at its best. Instead they get an interface covered in little lock icons. And it's not immediately apparently why those lock icons are there.

This is a wild departure from the desktop Learning Pack model, but how does the following sound:

There is no such thing as a Learning Pack. Every feature is always unlocked. Instead, the song library categories are flattened a little (Primer, Easy, Medium, etc. are all at the top level. Ash's exercises might be removed altogether on the iPad version. And a lone "Other" group for anything you add via iTunes/inner-app.) so the first time you open the app (remember: no title screen) you're staring at a list of difficulty names.

You touch a category. Two or three (of the most well-known in that category) songs near the top are shown normally, the rest are grayed-out below. Touching the normal songs, you can do what you've always done... all the Learning Pack features always available. Touching a grayed out song prompts something like "Unlock all the songs in this category for $0.99". The "Other" group -- or "Unlock the ability to play any other song" might be $2.99.

I posit that this will be more familiar to users. And less expensive! If you use Synthesia to play your own MIDI files, you're only out $2.99 instead of the $5.99 I was expecting the one-time Learning Pack unlock might go for. If you are just beginning or not sophisticated/comfortable enough to find your own MIDI files, you can get the first few categories for less than the cost I was imagining before too. By breaking it up into smaller pieces, it feels more like everyone will be able to tailor their purchase to their own needs.

So we've moved from a nebulous, confusing feature-unlock to an immediately familiar, piecemeal content-unlock.

This is actually kind of hard for me to wrap my head around because I create features... not content, but from a user's perspective I suspect it makes way more sense. (It also starts setting up user expectations for the song store next year.)

Who even uses Rhythm practice anyway? (A lot of you do :lol: )

Stop me if I'm wrong, but in a world where melody practice is available for every song... it immediately becomes the go-to choice in all circumstances. Imagine an interface with the other two modes removed: instead of a giant array of buttons that assault you when you first see a song's settings, you only see Watch, Left Hand, Right Hand, Both Hands. Instead of a weird separated partition with tabs that updates when you select a mode... you're always in the melody practice context so the partition can go away. The tabs can even go away: let's decide to focus on song scores only, and now the chart and the score table disappear!

Now you're left with a screen that has four buttons, some instructions, and a little chart showing the breakdown of the big number at the top of the screen. There isn't even a continue button anymore because the four big buttons don't require two (confusing) presses to do something anymore.

While we're at it, let's make the "Advanced" view into an "Assign Hands" view: a little popup with almost no controls where you can preview a track and set which hand it belongs to. The only way to enter a song is from the simple view. That's more consistent and easier to learn. That also removes the need for the old stats screen that most of you probably don't even know exists anymore.

Of course, with a screen that simple... there is more real-estate available. Why not put the song list right in a sidebar of the song screen? Drop all the columns except song score and name. Navigate the groups the way you do in the Mail app (instead of with the breadcrumb / folder bar).

Now you've got an app with only two primary screens: "choose your content" and "enjoy your content". There is a settings screen, but we've eliminated a handful of tabs from it and a ton of options (mostly from dropping Rhythm and Recital). It's cheaper to use, makes a better first impression, is friendlier to new users, and more concise for experienced users. It also feels like a mobile app instead of a desktop app crammed down to mobile size.

This is a major departure from the desktop version. What do you think?

I don't have any idea how I'd do all that before the end of the year, but all of it feels pretty necessary.
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jimhenry
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Post by jimhenry »

Nicholas wrote:Who even uses Rhythm practice anyway?

Stop me if I'm wrong, but in a world where melody practice is available for every song... it immediately becomes the go-to choice in all circumstances.
STOP! You're wrong. I use nothing but Rhythm practice. That's partly because I don't have a PC that runs Synthesia well enough to be usable and I've only started really using it with the iPad beta. But, for me, the most useful aspect of Synthesia seems to be using it to get my rhythm nailed down. How would I do that with only Melody mode? There is a reason Synthesia's category is called Rhythm Games.

I agree that there are some real problems with the way the Synthesia interface is arranged. However, I don't think you are going to come up with a better interface just based on what you sketched out above. Doing a really good interface is very hard and takes a lot of testing of a lot of prototypes. At this point, I think you ought to do your best to clean up what you've got and bring it to market. Figure out the biggest stumbling blocks and figure out quick solutions that aren't going to prevent you from being on sale on the iPad by the end of November. Seriously, you should be on sale now. Every day you delay is pushing you past the all important Christmas season. This is not the time to get idealistic and try to solve all the shortcomings of Synthesia. Right now you need to knock down the show stoppers and get this thing out the door.

If you want to make a product that has a new interface that is more in tune with the iPad paradigms, I would suggest making it a new product with a new name. While we are shooting at the sacred cows, I don't think Synthesia is an especially good name. The new program probably would share a lot of code with Synthesia, or maybe you'd want to take the opportunity to make a new code base. I think you are a long way from being able to market a program with a new interface. I don't think it is a good idea economically to stay off the market that long. Shoot for having the new product ready to go on sale by September of next year.
Jim Henry
Author of the Miditzer, a free virtual theatre pipe organ
http://www.Miditzer.org/
Nicholas
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Post by Nicholas »

Hmm... multiple products is another way to solve the problem, I guess.

And that was some scary thinking all of a sudden. I do agree that getting to market yesterday (or really, a year ago) is vital.
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jimhenry
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Post by jimhenry »

Nicholas wrote:Watching over his shoulder while he fumbled around in the interface was... edifying.
Nicholas,

What was the first thing your brother tried to do?

What was the first thing he fumbled with?

How far along was he before the first fumble?

In a single not run-on sentence, describe what contributed the most to making the Synthesia interface difficult for your brother.

Since you need to get Synthesia for iPad released soon, hopefully answering the above questions will help you to focus on the "tall pole" in trying to reduce the stumbling blocks for absolutely new users. It might also spark some ideas amongst the forum members as to ways to knock down this "tall pole."
Jim Henry
Author of the Miditzer, a free virtual theatre pipe organ
http://www.Miditzer.org/
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jimhenry
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Post by jimhenry »

Forum members, and especially iPad beta testers, we might be able to help Nicholas with the iPad usability issues if we can try to think back to when we first used Synthesia and identify what a new user is likely to want to do the first time they use Synthesia on an iPad.

What might make that more difficult than it needs to be?

What might be done to make that initial experience easier and more enjoyable?

Do you think the first thing an iPad user will try to do is play a simple song using the touchscreen keyboard?
Jim Henry
Author of the Miditzer, a free virtual theatre pipe organ
http://www.Miditzer.org/
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jimhenry
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Post by jimhenry »

Nicholas wrote:This is a wild departure from the desktop Learning Pack model, but how does the following sound:

There is no such thing as a Learning Pack. Every feature is always unlocked.
I don't think you are ready for a switch to a content driven price structure. As a slightly less wild departure from a free version/paid Learning Pack model, how about only a single paid version with all features unlocked model? I think you can go with a lower price if every copy pays and get to a point where you don't really need the free version of Synthesia for iPad. If anyone really wants to try before they buy, they can try the desktop version.
Jim Henry
Author of the Miditzer, a free virtual theatre pipe organ
http://www.Miditzer.org/
Raymond
Posts: 528

Post by Raymond »

I use Rhythm practice when I have got good at Melody, but before I can play Recital.
Just to clarify. your not going to start removing features from the desktop version, right?

Couldn't you just have some big text that will get in the way, and tell you CLICK HERE. (a tool-tip like tutorial)
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jimhenry
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Post by jimhenry »

Nicholas wrote:Synthesia is tremendously complex for an iPad app
I think it would be more accurate to say the Synthesia GUI is overly complex for an iPad app, and probably in general, for what needs to be done by most users. Synthesia itself might even be to the low side of average as far as app complexity.

I think the thing that would most easily reduce the GUI complexity is to replace the sequential screen paradigm with a single screen that calls up subscreen paradigm. The game play screen would be the main screen and the only screen you would use most of the time. Every subscreen only returns to the Game Play Screen.

This is what I can find of other screens that would have to be dealt with:
Main Screen--4 buttons can probably all be moved to Game Play screen. Add More Features would be unnecessary if there is only a paid version that enables all features.
Settings Screen--No change
Song Selection--No change except that "Continue" becomes "Play" and returns you to the Game Play screen where playing requires tapping Play or double tapping the note area.
Continue Screen--"Watch", "Melody", "Rhythm", and "Recital" move to Game Play Screen along with scores. The Progress and Scoring stuff is a subscreen that can be called up from the Game Play screen.

Any screens I haven't accounted for?

Nicholas, is a change of this magnitude within the realm of possibility?
Jim Henry
Author of the Miditzer, a free virtual theatre pipe organ
http://www.Miditzer.org/
Nicholas
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Post by Nicholas »

jimhenry wrote:What was the first thing he fumbled with?
The first bad impression was immediately at the title screen: we were interrupted by the "connect to a wireless network" prompt because my iPad hadn't used his Wi-Fi connection before. (Apple makes this all or nothing: your app can either claim "I need the Internet" at which point the Wi-Fi prompt must happen at startup, or if you don't claim it, the Wi-Fi antenna will be powered down 30 minutes into your app running, period. No way of turning it back on without switching apps. No way of being notified it's off now.)

He tapped "Play a Song". His first question was "what are these?". I answered "difficulty and rating". He suggested maybe the song library columns should have labels.

Then he kind of sat at the library screen until I prompted him that "G Major Music Theory" was what he was looking for. I got the impression none of the choices were very clear.

He chose one of the low-difficulty categories and scanned the list for a few seconds trying to find something he recognized. When he decided he didn't recognize any of the songs, he picked one at random.

His next question was "What is that number?" pointing to the big zero next to the song title in the title bar. I suggested he tap it to find out. (This is anecdotal, but it took me like 5 attempts to hit the small song score next to the title because I was at a funny angle from the iPad.) He suggested he never would have thought to tap it on his own.

Once he spent a few more seconds on the song screen and was about to pick rhythm practice, I interjected (even though I should have been a fly on the wall) that to see it "the right way" he should try it with one of the unlocked songs. I interrupted, jumped him back to the title, clicked the Learning Pack button, picked one of the songs there, and instructed he try right-hand melody practice.

This was also during a time between beta 1 and beta 2 where the saved zoom level wasn't being respected when a song started, so he was presented with 88 itsy-bitsy keys. I had to interject again to get him zoomed in properly.

He made it through the song well enough. From this point on it was kind of smooth sailing. He got the confetti afterward and even tried it a couple more times. It was a very short hands-on, so that was basically it. There wasn't anything catastrophic, but it just seemed like a series of bad first impressions, over and over.
jimhenry wrote:... how about only a single paid version with all features unlocked model?
When I first read this, I thought you were talking about the desktop version, too. That would have been a scary change.

That would definitely solve the "bunch of locks all over the place" problem and everyone would get the best experience right away. Though I worry about the viability of making the app itself for-pay. Everything I've read suggests free up-front will put it in the hands of at least an order of magnitude more people. That means more (ideally positive) reviews, which should lead to more people trying it. I don't know. It's a tough question to answer which way is better before the app launches.

The first wave of users are most likely going to be driven from the Synthesia site (and I'd imagine be pre-existing users) that are expecting the "free with a paid unlock" model. I would also worry about violating those expectations.
Raymond wrote:Just to clarify. your not going to start removing features from the desktop version, right?
Correct. This discussion is strictly iPad-only. I would look to port over improvements, but simplifying to the point of removing functionality is something I don't have any plans for on the desktop.
jimhenry wrote:Continue Screen--"Watch", "Melody", "Rhythm", and "Recital" move to Game Play Screen along with scores. The Progress and Scoring stuff is a subscreen that can be called up from the Game Play screen.
I'm having trouble visualizing what you mean by this last line. You are suggesting being able to change the mode during play?

How would the game play screen behave the first time you opened the app? Would hitting the play button open the song selection? Would the song selection appear automatically the first time you opened the app?

In all the apps similar to Synthesia I can think of (Guitar Hero et. al., the Synthesia lookalikes on the App Store, or even just standard puzzle games) you always have the "choose your content" step before the "engage with your content" part of the process. Otherwise that second step becomes "engage with... nothing", which feels sort of awkward. Wouldn't that be more confusing to new users than a list of songs to choose from?
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jimhenry
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Post by jimhenry »

I was thinking ahead to the idea of a demo or walk-through the first time the app starts. There would be a song selected for the demo. Thereafter all you ever do is change songs. This does turn the whole flow of Synthesia completely around. Right now you start at a general Start screen and make your way toward playing your first song. The new model says we plop you down ready to play your first song and from there you change things whenever you are ready to do so.

===

In trying to decide whether to go with free/paid upgrade or all paid for the iPad version, do you have a sense of whether more than 10% of the free downloads of the desktop version upgrade to paid? Despite the very different price, I suspect your paid upgrade percentage will be similar. (At least it is probably as good a guess as any other.) If you are fairly confident that 10% or more the free iPad versions would upgrade, then the free/paid model probably makes sense.

However, if you go paid only, then you probably can set the price lower. Do you have anything that gives you an idea of what pricing does to the volume?

Finally there are some intangibles like the simplicity of not having the locked features, and not inflating the support burden with the unpaid iPad users.

For your sanity's sake, you probably should make the decision just based on expected upgrade percentage.

===

Since Synthesia has a substantial usability without being connected to the network, can one gracefully start the game and get past the lack of connectivity? I guess that would be an "I need the Internet, if it is there now." But I suppose that also means it is going to get bitchy if the Internet goes away later, even if that doesn't matter. Could you start the first time without Internet and have a setting to enable features that require the Internet?
Jim Henry
Author of the Miditzer, a free virtual theatre pipe organ
http://www.Miditzer.org/
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jimhenry
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Post by jimhenry »

Do you think Synthesia should display the standard iPad status bar?
status_bar.png
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The status bar uses about 2.5% of the available vertical space on the screen. The falling note space would probably be reduced in height to create the space needed for the status bar.

This is what Apple says about the status bar:

Think twice before hiding the status bar if your app is not a game or full-screen media-viewing app. Although these apps might permanently hide the status bar, you should understand the ramifications of this design decision. Permanently hiding the status bar means that users must quit your app to find out, for example, whether they need to recharge their device.

Note that most iPad apps do not need to hide the status bar to gain extra space, because the status bar occupies such a small fraction of the screen. On iPad, the subtle appearance of the status bar does not compete with your app for the user’s attention. The small size of the status bar, combined with the slightly rounded corners of the app’s upper bar, make the status bar seem like part of the device background.

Consider hiding the status bar (and all other app UI) while people are actively viewing full-screen media. If you do this, be sure to allow people to retrieve the status bar (and appropriate app UI) with a single tap.
Jim Henry
Author of the Miditzer, a free virtual theatre pipe organ
http://www.Miditzer.org/
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jimhenry
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Post by jimhenry »

Do you think Synthesia should use the standard iPad icon for bookmarks?

Image

Do you think the bookmark icon could be eliminated in favor of setting bookmarks by tapping in the progress bar across the screen above the notes?

Could a loop section be managed with pinch and stretch gestures in the progress bar?

Should the left edge of the note area also be available for bookmark and loop setting gestures?
Jim Henry
Author of the Miditzer, a free virtual theatre pipe organ
http://www.Miditzer.org/
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jimhenry
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Post by jimhenry »

I think making the Play screen the primary screen of Synthesia for iPad will dramatically improve the usability. Playing the keys is the primary task of Synthesia. The user should initially see a keyboard and be ready to play or make the adjustment they want before playing. Here is an idea for what the first screen you see after launch might look like:
Start_screen.png
Start_screen.png (49.32 KiB) Viewed 15808 times
From here all a user has to do is tap Play to play their first song.
Jim Henry
Author of the Miditzer, a free virtual theatre pipe organ
http://www.Miditzer.org/
davemac1
Posts: 31

Post by davemac1 »

Like the new features - sqeeze for note and keyboard size especially. Reading about Nicolas's brothers comments in the
posts, my view is that Synthesia should be a sophisticated app and maybe users will just have to learn the menu structures. Think it it was sold for $5 dollars including the learning pack would be good. This is a serious piece of software with midi and enables playing / learning piano easily with out the need to read music. As far as I know there is nothing out there that compares. There are some other app for piano in the apps store but they come nowhere near to Synthesia. My view would be get this version finished and don't worry if there are a lot of menu steps, maybe these can be updated in future.
Maybe there is a case for having a free / 99 cents version at some time also. Guess its question of economics ? People into music would not mind paying $5 or more, maybe it should be more ? I would pay $25 ! . Guess its hard to know what's best when you are so close to it ?
As far ask can see it works fine now, the biggest thing missing is note / keyboard labels and sluggish scrolling in song list,
Get it out there !
davemac1
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Post by davemac1 »

PS. The biggest advantage over desktop / laptop version is that the IPad can sit in the music rest. With a laptop one has to have the lid closed on a grand piano or have it on the top of an up right piano, even with a keyboard it is still a fiddle to use a laptop. So my point is that a full working Synthesia app on an IPad is a fantastic concept and should not be undersold. Add more menus if it makes it more powerful would be my view and sell it at a fair price!
xaviescu
Posts: 5

Post by xaviescu »

1. First of all and again, thanks Nicholas for such a good application. I have been playing with most of the music piano apps for ios, and I can definitely tell you this is the best app by far.

2. I totally agree with most of your brother’s comments. Some aspects could be enhanced / clarified. However, Synthesia includes a bench of important aspects that make it the choice for many people trying to find a serious / useful piano program (there is nothing similar out there). I would definitely encourage you not to lose any of its “key points” / “the essence” of Synthesia.

3. For me, key points of Synthesia (that should be in either a desktop or mobile version) include:
  • a. Ability to clearly view your progress. I would say this is the most important aspect in Synthesia. There are very good programs, but definitely the way you get challenged by Synthesia is second to none. Also, having different users is very helpful / necessary (even in a mobile app). My two daughters are always competing!. For instance, "50in1 piano" is a very good app but definitely the fact of not having a good track record of your performances makes it less useful.

    b. Ability to choose between Practice and Showtime (rhythm and song recital). As also mentioned by jimhenry, I would say this is one of the most important options. I always start with Practice and then Showtime (which puts a little bit of more challenge to your skills). Even really “easy” programs such as "PianoDuster for ios" include this option. My only comment, I would merge Rhythm and Song recital into Showtime (for me, it is just the same, you can choose the speed when playing and the score already reflects it)

    c. Ability to choose left / right / both hands

    d. Ability to view fingers. Crucial for beginners

    e. Ability to follow falling notes / sheet music. Having sheet music is very useful for learning. With regards to it, at some point I would encourage you to include fingers in sheet music.

    f. Ability to use new MIDIs and assign hands
4. Having said that, and with regard to your brother comments
  • - Synthesia is tremendously complex for an iPad app. Probably yes. As expressed in a previous topic, I think that having a one-page menu (similar to the mail app) would enhance / simplify the UI. See two different examples below (very quick and dirty!).

    - Mobile users are used to buying content, not features. Could not agree more on this. The main “issue” I see with Synthesia is that you do not have the option to pay for new MIDIs. Of course you can look for them in the web. However, I would happily pay for having some Synthesia-ready MIDIS (with fingers, hands assigned,…). Apart from having a first set of “learning package”, I would add some in-app purchase “groups of songs” (classical piano songs,…). Also, and this is obviously a major step forward, but having the choice to purchase new songs / chart-topping hits (similar to what Yamaha is offering through its NoteStar app or Garageband through “artist lessons”) would be awesome (I understand this implies an enormous effort). In the meantime, I would try to have some kind of “groups” of classical songs.

    - Who even uses Rhythm practice anyway?. As expressed before, probably would be worth merging rhythm and song recital, but definitely do not remove both!
Alternative 1

Image

Alternative 2

Image

Nicholas, I hope this is useful. Thanks again for your awesome effort!!!
Nicholas
Posts: 12519

Post by Nicholas »

Lots of great feedback coming in here. Thanks everyone!
jimhenry wrote:I was thinking ahead to the idea of a demo or walk-through the first time the app starts.
It's a shame this song isn't public domain yet. That would have made a great opening demo. Topical, too. ;)
jimhenry wrote:... do you have a sense of whether more than 10% of the free downloads of the desktop version upgrade to paid?
It is less than 1%. People love downloading free software.

(At 5.4M downloads to date, does it help if I wish that it was 10%? :lol: )
jimhenry wrote:Finally there are some intangibles like the simplicity of not having the locked features, and not inflating the support burden with the unpaid iPad users.
Those are both things I'd love to have. (Though unless the desktop version were to move in that direction too, the code paths would still have to handle locked/unlocked.)
jimhenry wrote:Could you start the first time without Internet and have a setting to enable features that require the Internet?
This is another one of those Apple things. You have to set an "entitlement" in your project metadata that says "I use the Internet". Those are set up front and can't be changed. It's part of the same mechanism for things like "I need a front-facing camera" or "We use the accelerometer" that the App Store uses to prevent you from buying an app that you won't be able to use.

If you set it, the popup happens if you're not connected. If you don't set it, they shut off WiFi after 30 minutes with no way to re-enable it from code.

(A similar Apple'ism I just discovered is that you can't programmatically detect when the Silent switch is on... so you just have to deal with dozens of one-star app reviews that state "There isn't any sound!11". I would have loved to have shown a little, red "Muted" text in the corner. Oh well.)
jimhenry wrote:Do you think Synthesia should display the standard iPad status bar?
I went back and forth with no strong opinion. What eventually decided it for me was the "OpenGL ES Game" template in Xcode that I used when initially creating the iPad project had it hidden by default. Vertical space is already at a crazy premium -- especially with sheet music enabled -- that any benefit you get from showing it is offset by the loss of the space. And there would be more work: if you can see the network indicator, you are supposed to show the activity indicator whenever you're using the connection.
jimhenry wrote:Do you think Synthesia should use the standard iPad icon for bookmarks?
I was going more for marker with that symbol than bookmark. It was an added bonus that it already resembled the little indicator that gets added to the timeline. I'd be more interested in removing the word "book" from the whole system than switching to a symbol that is further away from the actual idea. Apple's standard bookmark icon never really screamed bookmark to me anyway. Sure I got "book" out of it, but in our context I'm not sure how helpful that is. I'd sooner imagine it was a "Manual" icon or "Instructions" icon or something like that.
jimhenry wrote:Could a loop section be managed with pinch and stretch gestures in the progress bar?
For the precision required, and how much time is compressed up there for longer songs, it seems like a net loss over the buttons at the bottom. Maybe making the margin-adjustment easier to pull off would help for fine-tuning. The margin has the benefit of not being super time-compressed like the timeline.
jimhenry wrote:Should the left edge of the note area also be available for bookmark and loop setting gestures?
That's already how bookmarks work, isn't it? And while it's hard (to the point of not being usable right now) to "grab" the loop bounds without a mouse (and it fights with drag-panning too... that's a bug), you can also fine-tune them using the margin.
jimhenry wrote:I think making the Play screen the primary screen of Synthesia for iPad will dramatically improve the usability.
I think my first instinct when seeing a mockup like that one (which is to become stressed out by it :D ) is more from old memories of how long it used to take to iterate on the UI. Maybe mixed with a little inherent resistance to change.

Though there is a delicious simplicity to it that is hard not to appreciate.

The play screen isn't flexible enough today to change that much while you're just sitting there on it. I suppose I could hack something in where the screen flickered a little while the whole view essentially reloaded from scratch whenever you hit a button... though I'm not sure how desirable that would be. For that large a change, it might make sense to do it in the second release when the code complete date isn't a week away.

Still, you're starting to sway me. I'm wondering if everything I've promised for "the next release" shouldn't be nudged a little to make room for a small release between then and now, where the goal was strictly an interface usability pass to tackle things like this.
davemac1 wrote:Think it it was sold for $5 dollars including the learning pack would be good.
Thanks for your input! $5 is the plan, by the way. :D
xaviescu wrote:I would definitely encourage you not to lose any of its “key points” / “the essence” of Synthesia.
I have gotten this impression from everyone that has responded so far. It's probably safe to say I'm shooting for "easier to understand" more than "just include less" now.
xaviescu wrote:My only comment, I would merge Rhythm and Song recital into Showtime (for me, it is just the same, you can choose the speed when playing and the score already reflects it)
I'd have to think about it. I think your "showtime" phrase describes recital mode really well and I like that distinction between it and regular old practice. There is something of a "stepping onto the stage" quality about recitals that I'm not sure rhythm practice evokes. Rather than merge the two, I almost want do more to distinguish them. Maybe a little more ceremony at the start of a recital. Or applause/conferring rewards at the end?
xaviescu wrote:Also, and this is obviously a major step forward, but having the choice to purchase new songs / chart-topping hits (similar to what Yamaha is offering through its NoteStar app or Garageband through “artist lessons”) would be awesome (I understand this implies an enormous effort).
This is actually actively in the works. It's just not ready yet and won't be for at least another six months. Enormous effort is right! (Only semi-unrelated: I've actually been in contact with the NoteStar folks!) ;)
xaviescu wrote: Alternative 1

Alternative 2
Those are some nice mockups, thanks! There are a few elements there that make more sense than what I had in mind.
xaviescu
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Post by xaviescu »

Nicholas, combine the contents of Notestar with the user interface of Synthesia and you will get THE PIANO APP. Nothing else to say...
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jimhenry
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Post by jimhenry »

Nicholas wrote:
jimhenry wrote:... do you have a sense of whether more than 10% of the free downloads of the desktop version upgrade to paid?
It is less than 1%. People love downloading free software.

(At 5.4M downloads to date, does it help if I wish that it was 10%? :lol: )
jimhenry wrote:Finally there are some intangibles like the simplicity of not having the locked features, and not inflating the support burden with the unpaid iPad users.
Those are both things I'd love to have. (Though unless the desktop version were to move in that direction too, the code paths would still have to handle locked/unlocked.)
At less than 1% conversion from free to paid, I'd be very tempted to go paid only for Synthesia for iPad. Let's say you could sell 1,000 copies at $5 per copy (using low numbers of copies to keep the math easy). You could give away another 10,000 free copies and 100 would upgrade to paid. Your choice is support 1,000 copies for $5,000 or 11,000 copies of two versions with the confusion of locked features for $5,500. Now that I see that in black and white it seems like a no brainer.

You can always decide to go back to a free/paid model later if you want. For now I'd opt for the simplicity of one paid version with no need to handle unlocking features.
Jim Henry
Author of the Miditzer, a free virtual theatre pipe organ
http://www.Miditzer.org/
Nicholas
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Post by Nicholas »

The intangible on the other side though is that you have an extra 10,000 people spreading the word about Synthesia.

For something that has grown organically using exactly $0 on advertising over the years to 5M downloads and what I have been able to roughly guess is about 30k daily users, that seems important enough to try and keep it going.
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