Feature Request - PIP & Background Audio Stream

  1. Allow background audio stream - Able to listen to audio playback when app is in the background or the screen is locked
  2. PIP mode on iPad – Plex & Comcast app able to do this
3 Likes

I’ve been meaning to ask for the audio stream only as well, it would be great if we could get audio only with the display off.

Only apps that present video with the system video player can support background audio. The reason is, it’s basically the iOS system handling everything and not the app.

Channels uses a custom video player, and that would require the entire app to background, which iOS does not allow.

What if you break the audio out and use the system audio player but only when minimizing? Or play audio in the built in player AND system audio player, but mute the audio on the system audio player until minimized. Seems like it could be made to work.

The problem is that the system player doesn’t know how to talk to the HDHomeRun. Our app code to connect to the HDHomeRun can only run when our app is active. If the app goes into the background, the connection to the HDHomeRun is lost.

How do apps like Spotify work then? They play audio in the background but the system player doesn’t know how to talk to the Spotify servers.

The system player knows how to work with most audio protocols… for instance, it can stream a mp3 or aac file from a http webserver or other common URLs. That’s how almost all apps usually work.

But the HDHomeRun is a specialized network tuner device that implements its own custom protocol for tv streaming. The system player doesn’t know how to work with it.

What about overlaying the guide over the picture like directv now does.

This seems to be a similar request that is going on in this thread:. Play current channel while on grid

In the case of audio only to an iOS device, If the stream is being routed through the DVR, don’t you have the capability to break out the audio into a simple stream the built in player can handle?

Yes

I know this adds complexity to the app, but it would be possible to use the native player for recordings? So recordings could have picture-in-picture support and background audio, but not live TV. This adds complexity to the app, but a PIP feature would be really useful on an iPad!

The native player does not support mpeg2, nor does it work with mpegts containers (even if the video is h264).

Sorry to dig this one up.

What about an option in the menus to use the system player for DVR users? Obviously it would mandate the DVR transcodes and deinterlaces the HDHR stream so would only be available to DVR users with a system powerful enough to transcode. A warning could be displayed to that effect.
The user then gets PIP and framerate/colour depth matching automatically.
It’s also a “DVR exclusive” that might sell a few more subscriptions.

1 Like

Make it as a Channels DVR+ Add-On enhanced features $2.99/month: PIP, background audio, and Multi View/Cast like ESPN and PS VUE apps up to 4 streams.

If you want PIP you can use it via Safari on the DVR Web UI.

But not on tvOS which is what I’m really after. Also using a system player on Android or Fire TV bring whatever advances those systems may support in the future. Channels bespoke player has done sterling work over the years but it seems to make sense to me to let the DVR convert the incompatible interlaced video to a format everything can play rather than produce a player for each device. Looks like that’s the approach Amazon took with the Fire TV Recast.

The system players are designed for web streams and are simply not a good fit for what we're doing. Plex, Emby, Infuse all started with the system player and have moved away from it. Bugs we've reported in the system player go unfixed for years because Apple only cares about support web streaming content. (See for example http://www.openradar.me/radar?id=5007794612731904.)

Even if we decided to add an optional switch to use the system player, it would be a huge technical undertaking and require rewriting large portions of our app. Every single feature we have added to our player in the last four years would have be reimplemented from scratch, and many of them would simply be impossible to add to the system player. (For instance, when watching a live stream in AVPlayer there is no reliable way to pause and seek around the stream).

We would love to be able to support PIP on iOS and tvOS, but it's simply not practical for us to do.

(For instance, when watching a live stream in AVPlayer there is no reliable way to pause and seek around the stream).

I love Channels DVR picture quality & reliability playback for in home & remote use. Then create a stripped-down Channels Lite version using the native player with access to Guide, PIP, background audio, and multi-view for tvOS or take your web ui and create an app for it? For me, I don’t need to seek/pause for Live TV just want to listen to news/sports audio (when driving) and able to switch to PIP when on iOS devices so I can multi tasks on other things.

Fair enough.