Steven Harding has updated Yougle to 0.4.0 and I got a chance to play with it tonight. It’s a small install and then you can watch Youtube, MSN video and other Internet video sources all in Windows Media Center. Steven has done a great job with the application and it has a very intuitive UI. You can stream video from a variety of sources (plus developers can add additional sources), I tried MSN Soapbox and searched for some videos and then played them on my Xbox 360 Extender and the Linksys DMA2200. It’s nice to be able to have some Internet content in Media Center as being in the UK Media Center’s Internet TV service is not available.
Playback on the Extender worked great, Steven is working on adding Youtube playback to the Extenders and I got Soapbox working fine. One nice feature is that you can download videos such as HD trailers from Apple, pressing the # key on a video downloads it so you can watch it later, which is great for watching HD content where you don’t have enough bandwidth to stream the content.
There is even a source for TheDigitalLifestyle.com videos
Download the beta for free from Steven’s website
Details from Steven:
The long-awaited release of Yougle 0.4.0 is just around the corner – the installer is being tested as I write this, so I’m hoping to release in the next day or two.
There’s a lot of new features and some room for even more, so I’ll list some of the basics here.
Redesigned Menu System
The original Yougle menu system looked a fair bit like Media Center, but it could be a little confusing understanding how the two FilterBars worked – particularly when it came to combining the values of two or more filters. In fact, even I sometimes had trouble, since they would work together in strange and unanticipated ways.
The new menu system is designed to be much clearer, and allow you to have much finer control over what you are actually looking at. Rather than working with a ‘flat’ menu of only two levels, the new Yougle system allows you to have much deeper filter menus that you pick in stages.
As an example, the initial menu in the YouTube source offers three options – ‘Lists’, ‘Genres’ and ‘Search’. If you go to ‘Lists’, you can then choose between lists like ‘Featured’, ‘Most Popular’, ‘Most Viewed’, ‘Most Recent’, and for those filters like ‘Most Popular’, you can also then choose the time period (this day, week, month or all-time) for which to view the results.
It does take a little bit more navigation before you get your first video, but the control you have is much greater and worth the extra effort.
Flash Video sources now support a new function called ‘Embedded Playback’. This allows you to watch Flash videos in Flash itself – the actual control that appears in your Internet Explorer window. Yougle takes care of your mouse input so that the ‘Play’ and ‘Pause’ buttons interact directly with the play button on the flash application itself.
This means that not only do you get instant playback of your Flash content (such as YouTube, DailyMotion etc.), but also playback will finally be available for 64 bit machines!
You can turn Embdedded Playback on and off from the new Settings menu.
Some sources MUST use Embedded Playback, as no direct download option is available.
Some sources – like Yahoo! Music – now support ‘Settings’. These options allow you to specify source-specific settings that you need to change very rarely. For example, in Yahoo! Music there is a setting to specify the bandwidth of your connection. If you find you are getting choppy playback, you can simply change your Bandwidth setting and it will apply to all video searches you do.
If you have donated to Yougle Vista, these settings will save between sessions of Yougle.
The currently active option for a setting is marked in orange.
A new feature that is possible thanks to the new menu system is multiple searches – rather than a single ‘search’ entry, you can now have an unlimited number of custom searches. Some sources already are taking advantage of this feature, with "Search For Author", "Search For Tag" and "Search For Keyword" options.
Yougle Vista now supports adult content sources. However, these sources do NOT appear on the screen normally, even if you aren’t using parental control. This is mainly because when you have friends or your grandmother visiting, you don’t really want to show off the more ‘interesting’ sites you’ve visited recently.
To turn on Adult sources, go to the ‘Settings’ page and turn off the ‘Censorship’ option. If you require a parental control PIN, you will be asked to enter it here. This option will NOT save, so you will need to turn it off every time you want to access adult sources.
You can now REMOVE a source from Yougle Vista by pressing the ‘D’ button on your keyboard or the ‘#’ button on your remote control. This will mark the selected source for deletion next time you open Yougle Vista.
This is an important, as some sources such as DivX Stage 6 will not be available in the new version, as the site has closed down.
Yougle Vista had a couple of times where the interface would ‘freeze’ slightly while information was being downloaded. This was most obvious when loading a source that required web information – such as Flickr and Yahoo! Video – and when the program started up and new updates were downloaded and installed.
The new version of Yougle includes loading screens for both of these scenarios, making the user experience flow more easily and preventing the nervous "did I really press that enter button?" worries.
Improved Parental Control
Improvements to parental control have meant that Yougle is safer for children and other users who need to be restricted from certain levels of content.
Yougle saves your information more frequently now, so you don’t have to worry about your saved filters or settings being ‘lost’ if a problem occurs.
New sources are being introduced to take advantage of the new Embedded Playback feature. The first of these is the ‘Zero Punctuation’ games reviews from the Escapist magazine, brought to you by Ben "Yachtzee" Cronshaw. Due to the language used in the source, it’s rated as Mature. The second is the first adult site for Yougle, Yuvutu.
Source Fault Tolerance & Diagnostics
Fault tolerance for Yougle sources has been improved to avoid crashing and give meaningful err
or messages to developers who are trying to create sources.
Improved Timeouts on Updates
When checking for updates, Yougle has been updated to work with more flexible timeout values, meanining that if the Push-A-Button website is down or busy, your Yougle program will open significantly faster than with older versions of the product.
There’s also generally a cleanup of the code as well, meaning some minor bugs have been resolved. The new simplified menu system allowed me to clean out some of the earliest code in Yougle and replace it with what should be more stable alternatives.
Major source fixes have been done – MSN Soapbox, DailyMotion and ICanHasCheezburger are all back online and working better than ever with the new system. GameTrailers will be absent for a few days while I build my own version of it (I have been unable to contact the original developer to get a copy of the code so I can upgrade it to the new SDK).
Google Video may be retired on this release, due to it’s erratic site-jumping nature.
I’ve also built in a couple of new possibilities into the system that will appear in the next couple of editions of Yougle Vista.
This includes Video Transcoding to playback certain files (such as downloaded FLV files) on a Media Center Extender, and Media Metadata to give you the ability to search for videos that match the tags, author or other attributes of the media you just watched