The PianoTrax App

The PianoTrax App
An Ionic app
Piano Trax was founded by professional pianist and accompanist Tom Griep, who has worked in the music industry for many years.All of the mp3 tracks listed on PianoTrax.com have been personally played by Tom. Piano Trax was created to provide an easy and affordable way for singers and performers to work with piano accompaniments without the challenges of getting together in person for a coaching.
However, there was one problem. His clients often rehearsed in places like churches and warehouses. Their cellular signal was quite often not strong enough to stream the tracks and so they were forced to sync their tracks onto their device with iTunes. On top of that, while rehearsing with dozens of students, they would need to purchase new tracks frequently. This made the process very time consuming….Sad Clients.

Enter the PianoTrax App. It now allows his clients to play their PianoTrax mp3s directly from their mobile device. They can stream them from their account using WiFi or a cellular connection, or download them to their device to access them when there is no WiFi or cellular connection.
It also allows them to play them through Apple TV and Bluetooth. Now they can use the tracks for auditions for their students easily. They can also purchase additional tracks at any time with the mere press of their thumb prints. Happy Clients.

Let's rewind a little. Building the app was not as straightforward as it seemed at the start. To begin with, all the tracks were stored securely in the cloud and the app had to secure access to the users tracks. If this was not a challenge in itself, managing and categorizing the content to provide an easy to use interface was difficult. In addition, users needed the ability to stream the tracks on Apple TV and bluetooth.

We searched for a solution that would give PianoTrax the most amount of flexibility in managing the needs of clients like Bob, while fully using the capabilities already in place on the web site.

  1. Ease of use
  2. Allow purchasing of new content in the App (in App purchases)
  3. Present new content as and when it is published
  4. Allow secure and well authenticated access to purchased tracks
  5. The app and web site should have identical content

Main points about the app design

  1. Users should not have to wait for Images to load. This was a challenge. However by using imgcache an ionic plugin, this problem was solved.
  2. Save info for Airplane mode. The app was built ground up to use local data stores. It was only after the app was built that the external network apis kicked in. This way we ensured that the app would behave without hiccups in Airplane mode
  3. Seamlessly download and play tracks. See point 2 above. In addition, we added network speed checks to avert the user when the network was getting erratic or slow
  4. Cache- Cache. Over time the users commonly accessed images would be cached and the experience would improve even more than it is at the outset.

For me the biggest compliment was when Tom said "Could we slow the loading time down, so that the logo (splash screen) is visible longer!!" Nice problem to have.

A big thanks to the Ionic team for such a great tool