TechAndroidWHS Phone Android Client: Developer Interview

WHS Phone Android Client: Developer Interview


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Previously, we brought you the add-in developer for WHS Phone, Paul Juenger.  We also caught up with the developer for the just-release Android client side application, Reid Holland.  Read on to see what Reid has to say about the Android application.


WHS Phone is an application that allows you to access your home server from your phone.  It consists of an add-in that is loaded to the home server and client-side software loaded to the phone.  The first operating system delivered was Windows Phone 7.  And tonight, WHS Phone client side software for Android was delivered.  We caught up with Reid Holland, who developed the Android software.

  • Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m a software tester by profession. I work a few cubicles down from Paul, the developer of the Windows Phone 7 app. Before this, I had almost no experience writing software, but I work with it daily, so I thought, why not give it a shot. I talked it over with him a little to get the details of how the add-in works and to help me with the initial set-up.
I built myself a home server with an old HP desktop I had laying around and got started. There were a lot of obstacles to overcome right off the bat as the app and add-in were obviously written to take advantage of the capabilities of the Windows Phone and I didn’t want him to have to make any changes to accommodate Android. It took me over a week just to be able to get the app to login to the server, so you can imagine what a long road it’s been. This app certainly would never be where it is without a lot of help from him and a lot of other great developers.

  • What is WHS Phone for those who have never tried it before? Key features, capabilities, etc.

WHS Phone for Android allows users to monitor their Windows Home Server from anywhere they have a data connection. You can modify user and share permissions on the go, monitor network health, and check server storage use. It was originally designed as more of a tool than a toy, but it was realized very early on that people wanted it as much for the photo browsing and music streaming as anything. You can also browse and download a select few file types from your server.

  • What is the price point for the application?

There is a free trial version available on our forums and in the Android Market. I strongly recommend people grab this first to make sure they can use it with their set-up. That being said, of about 1700 users so far between the two platforms, there have only been a handful who couldn’t.

The full version will be available for $4.99 in the Android Market. (NOTE: The full version was made available this evening in the Android Market.)

  • What are the key draws that you think will excite potential users about this application?

It’s a great way to keep track of what’s going on with your Home Server for sure, but I use it most frequently for showing off pictures and streaming music at work. In future updates, I plan to add the ability to add users remotely, which will be super handy for allowing friends access to music and files from anywhere.

  • What was the inspiration for WHS Phone? Can you tell me why you set out to deliver the application?

My inspiration for moving it over to Android came after seeing it running on Windows Phone. I had already started writing an app using the Orb APIs for streaming music from my home PC because I couldn’t access it from work and didn’t want to copy all my music to my phone. After seeing Paul’s app, I figured why not combine the streaming with some other useful features.

  • Who is the target audience for WHS Phone?

Obviously Home Server owners, but the best part of WHS Phone is that it offers something for anyone with access to one. The sysadmin types can keep an eye on their server health and data usage, their wife can show off their vacation pictures at work, and the kids can stream music and download that homework assignment they forgot. It really does have something for everyone.

  • What features would you like to bring in addition to those already delivered?

Landscape support will be in the next release for sure. I hope to support more audio types, but unfortunately, this is more an Android thing than programming thing. I’m going to add the ability to remotely add/edit/remove users. There will also be remote server Startup/Shutdown. One thing I would really like to try to get going is a ‘dropbox’ style feature to allow users to upload/download files between their phones and servers.

  • How about video streaming?

It’s coming. I can’t make any promises when though. Unfortunately, much like the Audio streaming, this is device dependent. Audio streaming was hit or miss on my Droid X, but works like a dream on my Atrix, and video acts about the same. I may just allow for users to download videos direct to their SD card and play from there in the short term.

  • What are your future development plans for the application? Are you considering bringing this to WHS2011/SBS2011?

It will definitely support WHS 2011. I know Paul just got his Vail server up and running so he could start work on it.

Jim McCarthy
Jim McCarthy
My tech interests include WHS, media streaming, and gaming, among others!


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