Today, July 22, we’ve made our 2nd beta release (“build 12”) with lots of new features and fixes based on the great feedback we’ve received from the first release.  The theme behind this release could be called:

 “Better audio, and lots more Ring features” 

We’ve made changes to improve the audio quality, and added new features; these new features are explained below.  All users should pick up this new build as quickly as possible!

1. Who’s Ringing? (Nicknames)

“Ringing” a channel to call everyone has been an unexpectedly popular feature; one of the first questions everyone has when they get “rung” is to ask, “who’s calling?”  So, we’ve added the ability to (optionally) specify a nickname for yourself – a public “handle” that, if you set it, will be included with the “ring” message.

2-01 fun nameNote this is not an account name: it does not have to be unique, you can change it anytime, and you don’t have to use it: it is merely a text label that identifies your messages, to be helpful to those you may be ringing.

2. Ring with a Message

The purpose of ringing is to bring people to the channel to talk live; we thought that there’s a better chance of success if you could tell people why you were ringing.  So, we’ve added an optional message to go along with the ring.

We like how simple ringing is (just push the button).  Since sending a message with the ring is an advanced, optional feature, we’ve “hidden” it beneath that same button: to get this feature, press and hold the “ring” button:2-02 press and hold bell

Type any message into the text box, and hit “Ring”.  The channel members will be notified like this:

2-02b msg ring

3. Silent Ringing

Sending messages in this way is so handy that you might want to send a message to everyone without having to bother them to come talk live – that is, without ringing the bell.  You’ll see that there’s a second option when sending a message ring – “Silent”.  That sends the message, but without the bell sound.  It will just vibrate/buzz everyone.  The notification will also show that you were trying to reach everyone quietly:

2-03 silent msg notif

4. Ring the Owner

Ringing everyone is a great way to call everyone to talk, but sometimes you would like to ring only the owner(s) of that channel.   This is particularly helpful for a business channel, or when the goal of a channel is so that everyone can get a hold of you.

For example, if you’re throwing a party, you could make a channel for everyone invited to the party; on the big day, anyone could ring you directly to talk to you immediately if they needed you.  Another example would be if you’re teaching a class, you could make a channel for this semester’s class, so that the members could either talk to each other, or they could ring you directly if they need to get a hold of you.

2-04a enable ring ownerAs the channel’s owner, you can decide whether you want to enable this feature or not.  When you create the channel, you get to specify which ring features (“Ring Everyone”, and “Ring Owner”)  members can use.

When users are in the channel, if you have enabled the “Ring Everyone” button, they will have the normal Bell icon in the upper right corner.  If you enable the new “Ring Owner” feature, they will have a “Desk Bell” button in the upper left corner.

Temporary UI Hints

Our goal is to keep the User Interface as simple and clean as possible.  However, we also have a goal of the app being self-explanatory to use when you first turn it on.  Sometimes these two goals conflict.

We had some feedback that, on the very first use, some people weren’t sure what to do.  There are various strategies for how to provide help inside an app.  We’ve decided to try something unique, to help brand-new users of the app while also respecting that the app’s simplicity is its strength, and once you see how it works, having a simple, clean, uncluttered UI is pleasing.

So, we’ve added some text labels to the buttons on the screen as hints to tell new users what these buttons do.  However, we know that you don’t need to have your hand held forever, and the labels do clutter the interface somewhat.  So, we’ve made each UI hint temporary:  once you’ve used a particular button twice, the hint goes away!2-05 temporary hints

If you really hate seeing the text labels, you can hurry the process to make all the labels go away – just go to the Settings and say “Hide” Temporary UI Hints.  Or, if you’ve forgotten what the hints were and want to see them again, you can “Show” the Temporary UI Hints, and they will all re-appear (and then go away again as you use them).