Audio-only mode for DVR users

It would be neat if Channels had an audio-only mode available to users with a transcoding DVR -- either built into the Channels iOS app or as a separate app.

Some channel types (news, sports, fm radio audio-only cable channels, Music Choice) are especially suitable for audio-only consumption. CNN and Fox News, for example, are already available in an audio-only format on Sirius XM.

In addition to conserving bandwidth, an audio-only mode would allow listening while the Channels app is backgrounded. It would even allow listening in the car (especially if a basic CarPlay interface was offered) or over in-flight wifi.

I second this, there are many times I want to listen to a news or sports channel while walking, and have to keep my phone screen on to do it. Would be nice to have audio only.

We'd like to add something like this too, but its complicated because to get background audio you have to use the system audio player.

One thing you can do in the meantime is to use the web UI. You can right click copy url on the Watch Now button, then change the url to add ?vcodec=none&acodec=mp3 at the end. So something like http://xxx.channelsdvr.net:8089/devices/ANY/channels/123/hls?vcodec=none&acodec=mp3. Open that in safari and it will start playing and audio-only stream from channel 123.

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@tmm1 this is awesome and will definitely come in handy!

I know you probably have enough more important stuff on your plate, but here are two enhancement requests:

  • Add a "Listen Now" button next to the "Watch Now" button in the web UI that opens the mp3 stream you mentioned.
  • Make the DVR server support generating an RSS feed for a Pass. The user could choose format options (video bitrate, audio-only, etc) for the RSS URL. The RSS URL could have an auth token parameter so it would work in podcast clients that use a server to fetch feeds.
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Nifty hack. I'll have to try that.

I wonder if a separate app would simplify things ("Channels Audio")? It would show just the guide and recorded shows (for DVR users) for audio streaming.

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Very much a hack, but this bookmarklet will grab the video stream URL from the the show modal dialog, and open a new window with the audio version. This can and likely will break someday when the devs change the Web UI.

@tmm1 - Give me an easier way to grab the URL :sunglasses:

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This is a terrific hack that I’ll definitely be using with one twist...can I do this with a recorded show? Let’s say I recorded a show and just want to stream the audio of the show and am uninterested in the video...what’s the magic URL incantation for that?

Thanks!

http://xxx.channelsdvr.net:8089/dvr/files/123/hls?vcodec=none&acodec=mp3

You can right click copy url on the Watch Now button to get the numbered url for a specific recording

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Wow, thanks so much for this functionality, I'm really grateful for it, and it works well! I've got bookmarks saved for my favorite news channels, those work great on all of my devices. I am able to use the bookmarklet inside my laptop browser to stream audio from recorded shows. But I can't manage to do the same on my mobile devices, which is where I desire this functionality most (i.e. while driving, can't be distracted by the video stream and don't want to chew through the extra bandwidth.) I think it's because iOS browsers don't support bookmarklets or javascript? I tried Safari as well as iCabMobile to no avail.

Is this the sort of thing an iOS shortcut could accomplish instead? If so, that would be very handy. At least until Channels includes a "listen now" button in the official app or web UI! Either would be fantastic!

I was able to get both a direct audio-only URL and a bookmarklet working in iOS Safari — playback even continued when the screen was locked. You could probably use a shortcut too, but in this case not sure how it would be of additional benefit. It might be easiest just to bookmark the individual audio streams (you could generate the URLs on a computer and sync it over to your iOS devices).

What happens when you try to use an audio bookmark you saved? What happens when you try to use the bookmarklet?

Thanks. The bookmarks for news channels work fine. It’s the workflow of pulling up “last night’s monologue” recording via the Channels web UI on my iPhone that isn’t working. I can’t bookmark this, it’s different every day, I just navigate to it from the Channels web UI, then I select the bookmarklet, but all I get is a blank window. What is the correct way to invoke this bookmarklet in Mobile Safari?

Answering my own question, I just figured it out, I can invoke the bookmarklet via the bookmarks in the sidebar.. On my iPad, at least. Still trying to figure out how to handle this on my iPhone,

You might try putting the bookmarklet in your Favorites (star icon in bookmarks). That way, you can tap the address bar then the bookmarklet directly rather than trying to dig around in the bookmarks screen. I just tested this on iPhone Safari and it worked fine.

Thanks, yes, that is exactly where I saved the bookmarklet. Not sure what I am doing wrong. In the Channels web UI, I get to this page, for this recording.

Then I tap the address bar, which reveals my favorites, and I tap the bookmarklet, which has this JavaScript:

javascript:(function()%7Bconst%20playButton%20%3D%20document.getElementsByClassName(%22glyphicon-play%22)%3Bconst%20audioURL%20%3D%20location.protocol%20%2B%20%22%2F%2F%22%20%2B%20location.hostname%20%2B%20%22%3A%22%20%2B%20location.port%20%2B%20playButton%5B0%5D.parentNode.getAttribute(%22href%22)%20%2B%20%22%3Fvcodec%3Dnone%26acodec%3Dmp3%22%3Bwindow.open(audioURL)%7D)()

But nothing happens. It just takes me back to to previous page with the recording info.

On my iPad it opens a new page with the MP3 file. On my iPhone Xs it doesn’t.

For what it’s worth the same thing happens from this page, after I tap “watch now.” The bookmarklet isn’t doing anything on my iPhone.

I appreciate any guidance or advice, it feels like I am very close!

Thanks, the screenshots help. I had not tried to use the bookmarklet from that screen; even though the episode detail looks the same, it is different enough that the bookmarklet fails. It does work after tapping on an episode in Up Next, for example, but not if I go to Recordings > All > show > episode. It's trying to match a play button, but there are multiple play buttons on the page and only one has an associated URL. Give this one a shot — it looks for the first play button that has an associated URL.

javascript:window.open(location.protocol%20%2B%20%22%2F%2F%22%20%2B%20location.hostname%20%2B%20%22%3A%22%20%2B%20location.port%20%2B%20document.querySelector(%22a%20%3E%20span.glyphicon-play%22).parentNode.getAttribute(%22href%22)%20%2B%20%22%3Fvcodec%3Dnone%26acodec%3Dmp3%22)

Yes! That worked! This is kind of a game changer for me, being able to stream audio only, on the fly, from any favorite live channel, or from any recording on my Channels DVR to my iPhone. Thanks so much, nriley.

Now that I've got this working on my iPhone and loving it, I just wanted to chime in:

  • Add a "Listen Now" button next to the "Watch Now" button in the web UI that opens the mp3 stream you mentioned.
  • Make the DVR server support generating an RSS feed for a Pass. The user could choose format options (video bitrate, audio-only, etc) for the RSS URL. The RSS URL could have an auth token parameter so it would work in podcast clients that use a server to fetch feeds.

...these are great ideas!

ClubChannels wrote:

I wonder if a separate app would simplify things ("Channels Audio")? It would show just the guide and recorded shows (for DVR users) for audio streaming.

This, too. I'm daydreaming about a future when I can navigate these menus and control audio playback via CarPlay, or on my wrist via watchOS.

In the meantime I'm handling it in mobile Safari, and it's great. So pleased it works as well as it does!

For iPhone, I switched to using a Shortcut shortcut which I can trigger from the ShareSheet.

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Cool! Can you share that shortcut? Or details how others can set up the same?

If you have played with the Shortcuts app, you can assemble it using the above:

Note that this only works on modals. I can probably put something together that works on a page with multiple 'play' buttons. I'll have to mess around with that a little.