Road tripping with U1 Music
I took a trip out to see the folks at the Indiana LoCo team to talk about 11.04. That means ROAD TRIP! (Note how we avoid Ohio):
One thing I totally suck at is remembering to sync my phone with new music before I go on a trip. For the last 6 months or so though I don’t really have to, since we have Ubuntu One Music Streaming.
The basic idea is that since I keep all my music in the cloud anyway I can just stream it back to myself, so when I buy a new album it’s just there, so I don’t have to remember to sync my phone or whatever.
But on a 3.5 hour trip with varying network conditions? Surely this won’t work. I’ll have to switch to more conventional ways to rock out for sure. Let’s find out.
The first step to any road trip is preparation:
I have Bluetooth audio support in my car, so the first thing I did was pair my phone, this was pretty straightforward. Then I fired up the application, queued up Alice in Chains’ Jar of Flies and hit the road. At this point in my trip I was on 3G.
One of the nice things that the application automatically does is cache songs for you. That way the next time you want to listen to it you don’t have to hit the network. I told the music app to store 10GB of cached songs. So basically instead of my usual “Sync 10gb of songs to my phone” smartlist I just use these settings. When a song is cached the application shows a little yellow asterisk:
So as I’m listening to the songs the U1 app is caching the next songs for me. While the Alice was cranking I went ahead and queued up more albums. Since the app integrates with last.fm you can see what songs I listened to on the way there and on the way back. And since they’re my songs it’s at a nice high bitrate.
The queuing works well, the only interruption was when I was north of Fort Wayne, where I spent a while on a “G” network, which is apparently even worse than edge. I had finally caught up to the queue. This is also where I discovered the “unlimited” setting for caching songs. On longer trips where you know you’ll be far from 3g you probably want to turn this on instead of the default 3 songs.
- You’ll need power. You have the bluetooth and data radios on, and if you’re using the map, GPS.
- The phone gets quite warm. It was uncomfortable sitting on my lap, for a longer trip I am mulling a bracket for the dash.
- All of a sudden I want to replace my car radio with a tablet that runs this.
- The app has an offline mode, if you’re totally without network it just functions as a music player playing the songs you have cached.