An updated desktop app means faster audio and video previews

26 October, 2018

We've been working hard to improve the time it takes for previews to appear when you upload files. There are several key areas we are focusing on and we're pleased to announce the first; an updated Digital Pigeon desktop app.

Along with the usual stability improvements the main focus of this release is faster audio and video previews, and generally faster previews for all files. After installing the latest version of the app, users will experience an immediate (up to) 70% improvement in the time it takes for video and audio previews to appear and as more users update to the latest version everyone will benefit from with even faster previews.

If you're interested in the details read on, otherwise please download version 4.1 of the Digital Pigeon desktop app from the following links.

How are we making it faster?

The ability to play video and audio files in web browsers (without having to install third party plugins like Adobe Flash) is a relatively new technology and up until recently, it was a little messy. Some browsers, such as Safari and Microsoft Edge/IE only supported specific MP4 variants while Firefox only supported WebM and Chrome supporting both (but publicly saying they were going to remove support for MP4). The impact of that messiness was that we had to generate previews in both MP4 and WebM formats which essentially meant more than twice the compute time for every upload.

Recently all the major browsers (some reluctantly because its a proprietary format) decided to support the MP4 container. That means that the only reason we are generating WebM previews is for our desktop app... To address this, we've licensed the H264 and AAC patents and included codecs to decode those formats in our desktop app.

On top of the improvements to the desktop app we're also working on support for playback for the original file. Once these improvements have been completed, the app will include the original file (if the file is in a web friendly format) as the preferred preview. That means that your previews will appear almost as soon as the upload completes, and you'll also have exact control over the quality of the preview your recipients are viewing.

Stay tuned for updates…

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