iShala - Indian music app for riyaaz

iShala v 3.3: motion-triggered Swarmandal

iShala includes a beautiful Swarmandal instrument that can be played in your performances or practice at wish. But what if you need both hands on your instrument? You can have the swarmandal play every 30 seconds or so, but it may not happen at the time you want.

This reflection was in our minds for quite some time until we came up with the idea of using the sensors in the devices. Now iShala 3.3, just released, adds an "On Tilt" option in the Swarmandal frequency choices that triggers the aroha or avaroha (ascending or descending scale) whenever a movement is detected. This way, musicians can keep the mobile on their lap and just lift their leg slightly when they want Swarmandal to play!


Another important feature added is the screen reader menu for visually-impaired people. For quite some time we have received requests from blind people that they couldn't use the app properly because of lack of support for the screen reading functionality of their devices. And for as much time we postponed such a development, as we had what we thought more important and urgent projects. However we are happy that we finally took the time to work on this so that visually-challenged people can still use the app on their own during their practice.

So iShala 3.3 now fully supports Talkback on Android and VoiceOver on iOS. The app will automatically detect at launch time when this accessibility mode is activated and automatically switch to a simpler, reader-enabled screen.

Background mode issue (Android)

On Android, the app now asks you if you want to allow iShala to play in the background. This has been a nightmare for us and a serious annoyance for some users. By default Android tries to save battery time by stopping apps running in the background. As a result, many users have complained (and given bad reviews) that the app was stopping after x minutes. This was unfortunately out of our control, and so we could only advise them to adjust the battery optimisation settings for the app in the ever changing Android menus.

Now we may have found the solution with this "permission", as you can white-list iShala (out of the apps to be stopped) by a simple clic. The only problem is that there are reports that Google has removed apps exhibiting this behaviour from the Play Store in the past, so we are not sure if this will happen to ours. But we are ready to take the risk and explain to them that we do need this functionality badly, as most users will practice for a long time without touching their screens.

So if you don't see iShala in the Play Store anymore, just cross fingers and hope we can get it back online soon;-)

Other enhancements

On iOS, we have made the Tabla base (Tabla.ssb file) accessible through iTunes shared files tab. This way you can customize the thekas or add your own using SwarShala. A special page in the SwarShala help explains how.

We have also added some new rhythmic cycles, like Pt Zakir Hussain's famous Chartaal ki Sawari (11 beats).

Hope you'll enjoy this update!

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