Monday, July 26, 2010

Design Sense : File Size Of (RSS Feed) Media Enclosure on iPhone

If you open a RSS Feed URL in Safari browser on the iPhone, it redirects you to a RSS Reader hosted at that aptly displays the Feed in a nice readable format on the iPhone. If the RSS feed contains Media enclosures (like Video, podcasts etc),  the feed reader application quite conveniently displays (what appears to be) amount of time it may take to download that file on your iPhone.

Look at a sample RSS Feed item below opened on the iPhone from an RSS Feed that I have prepared, contains a video introducing ASP.NET by Scott Hanselman.


I first thought, the time mentioned is duration of the video file enclosed in the feed. But the duration of the video enclosed in this particular example is actually 00:03:54, so it must be download time. Its a valuable information to have on your mobile device as it would help you to decide whether to go ahead and watch/listen to the media file or not. 

To come up with an estimate of download time, the reader application must be enquiring about the file size in real time.  This must be done by requesting HTTP Headers for the download file and use the content-length in response.  The application must also be checking the bandwidth of your current connection. For instance, if the iPhone is connected on Wi-Fi, I observed that the time is lower than the value displayed when iPhone is on 2G network.

Nice little extra work on the server and is quite valuable on mobiles.

Similar information is not displayed if you open the feed in Safari browser on the desktop though.


Application developers, take a note. A little extra work on your side could save a day for your users.

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