At the church I work at, we have two fixed campuses and two “church-in-a-box” campuses. Meaning two of them are setup and torn down every Sunday. It also means we have a very limited ability to make things easy to use for volunteers. In a permanent setup room we can more easily make things plug and play. We can check them during the week to make sure they are ready for the weekend. Church-in-a-box makes that more difficult. Even our second fixed campus is more difficult in that regard since there is no IT or tech support staff over there on the weekends or during the week.
Our children’s classrooms, and even some of our adult classes, have a need to be able to play a mix of audio files, video files and still pictures. Most of these things are a collection of pre-made stuff (i.e. videos to sing worship to with the kids, pre-made lesson plans with pictures and videos, audio files they want to use for intro music, etc.). Our choice was either laptops or iPad Minis. Laptops provide a bit more flexibility but are harder to setup (they require to be set on something, made secure so they don’t get knocked off, etc.) and more expensive. Believe it or not, we also found that our volunteers were more comfortable with an iPad than they were with a keyboard. Even if on the keyboard they just had to press the left or right arrows.
So iPads it was. Next was software. We needed a way to present those three mixed formats from a single application. That is where we ran into problems. I could not find anything that did all three. I could find apps that let you display pictures. I could find apps that let you display movies. I could find apps that let you play audio files. I could even find one or two apps that let you do two out of the three. I could not find a single app in the App Store that let me do all three. Let alone one that was designed for presentation and didn’t put a bunch of extra garbage on the screen whenever the clip advanced to the next item.
With that, Cue Player was born. It was designed from the ground up to be a presentation software for general use in a classroom environment. It allows you to mix and match video, audio and still picture clips. They can be arranged in playlists with auto-advance timers or set to repeat until manually advanced. You can select the clip to play by tapping on it directly or by using the arrows to move to the next/previous clip.
If you have a video file you want to use as a looping background while you talk, set it to loop and it will keep playing until you manually switch clips. If you wish to have a picture slideshow in the middle of your presentation while you keep talking, set an auto-advance timer on those clips.
Another use-case that was kept in mind during design is the ability to use this app for drum tracks. Because of the auto-advance ability, your drum tracks can be placed in a playlist. Any songs that run back to back you can set auto-advance timers on them. If you are going to have a short break between songs to talk or pray or do offering, leave it off and the song will simply stop until you advance to the next audio cue.
A final issue for us that was kept in mind during development is the fact that there is no one single user of each iPad. Sometimes the same person uses the iPad each week, but often it is different people. And often it can be different people loading the content. This means just using the iTunes syncing was a bad idea for us. Cue Player has, like many apps offer nowadays, a web interface for uploading content. This means the iPad can be passed around to various people and they can all upload their content. They can even put their content in different folders so the iPad can be loaded up early in the week and then used for various classes during the weekend.
If you would like to see a short video of Cue Player in action, head over to the support page and watch a brief demo. If you would like to see more screenshots or maybe even buy a copy of Cue Player take a click-thru to the App Store.