The Pro Audio Social Stream (PASS) has had a successful first year. Thousands of users have downloaded the iOS app and connected with the rest of the industry through posting links, thoughts and photos in their stream and held business conversations via direct messaging. Despite this success and the high-level use, there has been one regular complaint about PASS – access for those not on an Apple device.
Now, following months of development work and a ground up re-build, the team at PASS have solved that problem. ‘Whenever I have shown people PASS, the reaction has been fantastic,’ says Richard Lawn, GM of Blank Canvas Publishing, the company behind PASS. ‘But then there has been the realisation that they can only use it from an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. People told us they wanted to access the social network from different mobile devices and also from their desks, so that is exactly what we have done.’
The first decision was one of practicality. ‘We could have gone down the line of making different apps for Android, Windows Phone and Blackberry, but without the standard screen sizes you find with iOS devices, this would have taken a lot of development work and it still would have left some people out,’ explains Mr Lawn. ‘Instead, we decided the best option would be to use the www.proaudiosocialstream.com domain for an online version of the social network.’
Faced with the technical challenge of making PASS available to everyone on any device, Blank Canvas once again turned to the team responsible for the original app, Create Digital Media. The Create DM team are iOS specialists, but took on the challenge of making PASS available to all users with relish.
With the concept in place, the challenge for Create DM was to replicate the user experience it had built for the iOS app into a totally different environment. While on the surface, this sounds like a simple task, in fact it required a total re-build of the system as Create DM technical manager Justin Erswell explains. ‘It wasn’t simply the case of taking the framework we had built for the iOS app and moving that across to the web version. We had to start from scratch looking at what was required for this version and how we rebuild all the functionality to work across multiple platforms.’
‘The first thing we did was build the site to be responsive for different screen sizes,’ adds Create DM managing director, George Hammerton. ‘Despite this being a website, it has been designed to be mobile first. This way, whatever smartphone, tablet or desktop is used to view the site, it will be the best possible experience.’
It has been a labour-intensive process to recreate the experience, but one that has been totally worthwhile. Users are initially greeted with a login screen. While existing users can log straight in with their existing details, new members are invited to fill in their details or use existing ones from Facebook. Once logged-in to the desktop version, as with the app, the site will remember your details so you can always return straight to your stream without re-entering any information, unless you log out.
Once inside, existing users will find a very familiar experience. The same functionality for posting pictures, links and thoughts into the stream from any part of the site is there, as is the popular direct messaging feature. Equally, users will still be able to read the latest versions of Pro Audio Asia, Pro Audio Middle East and Worship AVL Asia directly within the website. The education section is taken care of by a direct link to sister site www.proaudioeducation.com, where all the educational video content is hosted.
Differences come with the look of the full desktop site. Like the app, a user’s stream is the prominent feature taking up much of the right hand side of the screen. But this has left extra real estate to bring some of the menu-based features within the app onto the main screen. This means functions such as trending topics and suggested users are now prominently displayed to allow users to join in key discussions or follow other relevant people. This changes with the reduced screen size of a mobile device, but all the functionality is still accessible via the menu tab.
Importantly, the website and the iOS app are compatible and linked. So your stream will always be up to date, no matter which device you are using, and any notifications will still come to your iOS device.
‘It’s been complicated but fun to build this site,’ says Mr Erswell. ‘We‘ve tried to make it available to everyone no matter which device or browser they are using and that has been incredibly challenging. But we’re really proud of what we have achieved with PASS Online.’
‘When we first launched PASS, we wanted it to be a place for the industry to talk, and it has done exactly that,’ adds Mr Lawn. ‘With this new release, we have listened to what the industry is asking for and created a platform for everyone, no matter what the device. We’re incredibly happy with the end result and we can’t wait to see everyone on there and taking advantage of this industry resource.’
PASS is now available to everyone in the industry no matter what platform you choose to access it from. Don’t forget to PASS it on.