Thursday, December 15, 2011

Auto Pitch version 1.3

Version 1.3 of Auto Pitch is now available. This is the first update for Windows Phone 7.5 but it has many more improvements than that.
  • New Auto Mode makes the hip-hop effect work even for talking
  • New Change Pitch preset to change pitch without speeding up the sound
  • Now you can hear the sound while you apply effects - no more waiting
  • Redesigned screens so everything is easier to use
  • New sample song by Josh Woodward
  • Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango) support
Read on for a more detailed description.

The two biggest issues I've heard from people have been that it doesn't work, and that it's too slow. To be clear, I've also heard plenty of positive feedback. But recently I realized that some of the people who thought the app did not work, actually didn't understand how to use the program. That is not their fault, but rather a problem with the design of the user experience.

To solve that problem there has been a much-needed change to the flow of the app. The complicated recording screen is gone and now built into the list page. The intro page is gone too, and was replaced with a one-time popup message on the first run of a new version. The sample sound which was "hidden" in the app bar menu is now prompted to be added by the user on first run also.

With the recording and list section streamlined nicely, I moved on to the playback portion. I think some people may have been playing the original version and never realized they need to apply effects first. Now there is a status area that shows the last effect you applied. Besides being helpful this also serves are a reminder in case you haven't applied any effects. Little things also help like offering to take you to the effects screen if you press the 'play fixed' button and there are no effects.

Now there are likely other people who figured out how to use the app, but then felt it still did nothing or not much. While the idea of pitch correction is that you have to change the pitch of your voice to get any change, that is not what some people expect. Some people want to just talk in one pitch and hear something fun. And now, they can do that with the new "Auto Mode". When Auto Mode is on, random pitch changes are added for you. Set it on Pro to get the old way things worked. You can even just hum one tone now and hear all the pitch changes that happen. For the technically-minded, the pitch jumps happen across the notes or scale you have selected.

Now on to the issue of the processing being too slow. I've tried for many hours to make it faster without losing too much quality. But really the problem isn't that it's too slow, but rather that the user doesn't want to wait very long for feedback. To solve that problem the app now streams the processed sound for playback as you process, decreasing the wait time from unreasonable to mere seconds. And if you phone is busy doing something in the background, it will pause playback to buffer more sound.

Another feature request was the ability to edit the title of a recording. Well that was easy enough to copy over from Rapid Recorder, so there you go.

There have been many other little changes. The biggest of which are the new sample song and new presets. The new sample song is an excerpt from Josh Woodward's Swimming in Turpentine. Check out and listen to his other music, it's not only great but it's free to download.

The presets have been updated and simplified. The hip-hop singing and hip-hop talking are both tuned for those situations and have Auto Mode on. Singing in key uses the Pro setting, and you may want to select the musical scale for a given song.

And new to the app is a Change pitch preset, which now lets you increase or decrease the pitch by a certain percent. And as far as I know this is the only app in the Marketplace that changes the pitch without speeding up or slowing down the sound. Now you can sound like a chipmunk that talks slowly. The percentage range is from 10% to 300% which is also more than any other pitch changing apps that I am aware of.

Last but not least is the addition of Telerik's wonderful controls for Windows Phone. They really add some nice polish, especially the screen transitions and overlay windows while recording or processing. If you happen to be a Windows Phone developer, I will tell you that they are well worth the money.

Please let me know what you think of the new version!