View Full Version : [Announce] Use your Apple Watch on Squeezebox with iPeng 8.2

2015-06-07, 10:48
After running an announcement thread during the wait for release, here's now the official announcement for iPeng on the Apple Watch:

The release of the Apple Watch in April brought some new chances and challenges for iPeng too: How could we realize a quickly manageable version of iPeng for the watch making the best use of its UI (which is like no other UI before attuned to the presence of the user), and which would be the most important use cases with iPeng?

Well, the biggest advantage (compared to the iPhone) of this "most personal device Apple has ever designed" certainly lies in its availability and the easy access to information and menu content it provides. Apple Watch has been designed to be worn, thus it offers the chance to simplify daily, frequent actions and interactions that are related to functions users care about the most. On the other hand, it implies a lot of limitations and restrictions (with regards to space, speed etc.), and besides that, the creation of Apps is limited by the capabilities WatchKit offers.


So, for the first version of iPeng for iWatch, we decided to concentrate on the following (and in our eyes basic) functions:

“NowPlaying Screen” with info about the currently playing title; play-/pause-, skip to next-/previous track- and volume-buttons.
current playlist to show and select tracks
context menu with two functions:
- Choose Player. You can use“Select Player“ or “QuickSwitch“ to continue listening in another room.
- Switch Players on/off. You can either only switch a single player off or switch off all players (“Leave Home”-function).
“Glance” gives you a quick overview of what’s currently playing and a simplified way to launch the App.

As you will notice, familiar iPeng features have been preserved, like the volume control for synchronized groups for instance: If you control a group of synced players, all players will change the volume, not just one. Or the popular QuickSwitch feature.

We expect that the most frequent use cases will be to quickly start or stop music on a player, go to the next track, or change the volume without having to look for your iPhone. Within your own WiFi -Network, you don’t even need to have your iPhone with you, which makes the whole thing even more interesting (because you can use it in different rooms).

Please let me know, what you’d like to see in iPeng on the watch!

We are going to maintain and further improve the app in the future, at the moment features like a search- and favorites-function are planned, further (possible) features could be

Ratings, adding tracks to favorites, “love”ing tracks etc.
Changing shuffle- and repeat-states for the current playlist

Feel free to tell us your suggestions with regards to preferred use cases and let us know how iPeng works with Apple Watch for you!


As usual: have fun with iPeng on your Apple Watch!

2015-06-07, 10:48
For those who want to read up: here's the preview thread again:

2015-06-07, 11:29
I think the title should read "Use your Apple Watch on Squeezebox with iPeng 8.2"
To my dismay someone gave me a chromebook recently. Pippin, can you do something for chromebooks :D

Ok, enough with that.
Congrats on making the app, and lots of fun to Apple Watch owners.

2015-06-07, 11:42
Good point. But I don't think changing the thread title will change it in the forum view :(

2015-06-23, 04:22
I've written up a few more details about the Apple Watch design for iPeng:

iPeng for Apple Watch Design Notes

A device like the Apple Watch brings new challenges for the app design, especially considering the limitations Apple’s current WatchKit has. Communication with the watch is not very fast and consumes a lot of battery power and since apps run on the iPhone, not the watch, every piece of information needs to go back and forth. So uploading long lists and the like or permanent remote communication right now don’t look like a good idea.

Also, there is a fixed and small set of user interface elements one can use on the Watch. This is a pity particularly when it comes to the volume buttons. Ideally, one would want to use the crown to change volume, but currently that’s not possible.

So browsing through long lists of thousands of albums or the like will probably not make sense (Apple’s own apps are all quite limited in that respect), Apple’s general guideline is to only implement tasks that don’t take longer than 10s since after that the arm will quickly start to tire.

iPeng tries to find the sweet spot in between these limitations with its current design, here are a few design features:

Glance as Entry Point

Navigating the honeycomb home screen is complicated and takes time. The easier way to launch an app is through a glance. iPeng’s glance shows you a “NowPlaying” screen, tapping it takes you to the app.

Currently, WatchKit glances can’t contain any active elements, so there are no buttons or other controls even though we would love to be able to have them.

Scrolling Track Titles with Custom Font

Apple’s system font on the watch is optimized for legibility at small font sizes. You can get a maximum number of (legible) rows on the display this way, but it’s not the optimum solution if – like in iPeng’s case – all you want to display are one or two rows of track title and that quickly exceeds the width of the display. So iPeng uses a different font with a smaller run width and uses a bigger character size instead.

To be able to show longer titles, the title label scrolls.

Page-Based Layout

iPeng uses a page-based layout, not a hierarchical menu structure. This is familiar from the layout of the “NowPlaying” screen on iPhone, but on the Apple Watch it’s actually a more important decision. Page-based apps cannot have a hierarchical menu like the main menu on iPhone, so that option is no longer available for additional functionality (like search). But a hierarchical structure would have meant it takes longer to get to the “NowPlaying” screen – not a good idea for a functionality you are probably going to use 90% of the time.

iPeng places the most important features right in front even if it means less often used features might be more difficult to access.


iPeng will sometimes trade perfect information for speed of access. On iPhone, iPeng will keep a permanent connection to the server, allowing iPeng to track a lot of states and always be aware of what’s going on with your Squeezeboxes. But establishing this connection takes seven seconds on average. Add a few seconds for the app launch and you end up with a time well in excess of the overall time you wanted to interact at all. So iPeng on the watch will always try to use the quickest way to access information or execute a command. Sometimes this means some information is limited or updates later (e.g. artwork), but at the same time it means it’s probably the fastest remote control app you’ve got around.

The Future

The Apple Watch is a very new product, we will see how it evolves in the future and what kind of usage schemes evolve, but right now I believe iPeng is giving you a really good UI for the quick control of your players on your wrist.

Apple also already announced watchOS 2.0 for this fall and it brings some changes, the most important of which is that Apps will actually run on the Watch, not the iPhone. This will probably help with performance for some features but might even hurt for others (everything requiring direct communication with the parent App on the iPhone will actually take longer to execute). Overall, I would not expect the biggest impact to be through faster loading times and access to the crown.