We've been wanting to bring Wotja to TV for a long time. That's because the TV is at the center of the home, is always on (except when in standby!) and is likely hooked up to some good speakers. Those factors all go toward making it the perfect device for generating relaxing ambient generative music for a 'lean back' experience.
Whether you use it for relaxation, meditation, sleep or as a room background is up to you!
There are a few reasons we didn't get around to it earlier, the main one of course being time. The last couple of years we have been maxxed out consolidating all our past apps into Wotja and then improving and further extending it.
Although we also chose to develop Wotja for four OS platforms - iOS, macOS, Windows and Android - full Android support only came last year.
TV Platforms - tvOS, Fire TV, Android TV
We had always felt the market opportunity for Wotja on TVs was still pretty small compared to phones and tablets. This was largely because Wotja is a real-time generative music and sound generation system and as such needs a fairly powerful device to run on.
Apple TVs with tvOS had been powerful enough for a while, but that was still a fairly small market.
What really changed it for us was that mass market low cost Android "TV Sticks" (such as Fire TV) started to become powerful enough to run Wotja. We found it compelling to think that that for $40 or so you can get a device that be used to generate beautiful live generative music. And via the Amazon Appstore we had a route to bring an Android app to market!
Android TV is a bit of an experiment for us as Google Play now requires apps to be built with Android 8+ and there will be few TVs / TV sticks that support that. However, the Amazon Appstore lets us build for Android 6+ so you might well want to get and try that version....
Player not Creator app
A key design goal for our TV app was that it had to be as simple as possible to use, i.e. a "player" app that you could just turn on and it would play. That in turn meant we had to create a new custom UI for it, which took time.
We also wanted it to be something that would generate a continuous stream of freshly generated mixes that you could also have some control over, i.e. not just a player of pre-made generative mixes in an album (even though that would still be nice so we might do that one day).
With the TV app you just need to launch it and it will start playing. Simply change the Scheme to change what is created!
Language Support - English, Chinese, Japanese
Being a simple player, and as language support came in Wotja 19, it was obvious we needed to do the same for the Wotja app for TV.
Wotja Go 19 on tvOS (English): Generative Music Player (30s)
Wotja Go 19 on tvOS (Chinese): Generative Music Player (30s)
Wotja Go 19 on tvOS (Japanese): Generative Music Player (30s)
Wotja Go 19
As a "player" app we decided it would fit best with our other existing paid-for player app, namely Wotja Go 19. This was already available for both iOS and Android.
We configured it so that whether you got the app for mobile/tablet or for TV (i.e. iOS version in the iOS App Store or tvOS version in the Apple TV App Store) you would get the other variant - in other words get one and you get both!
We also decided that it was a good time to increase the Wotja Go 19 Music Play Time Timeout to 8 hours (up from 1 hour). All that means is that the app will auto-stop after 8 hours (or earlier if you have turned on the sleep timer); simply press play to start it again.
Wotja 19 LE
We are a great believer in "try before you buy" and so have always like to make available a free version of our apps. After a good deal of headscratching we found a way to make/include the "Wotja 19 LE" (Lite Edition) TV app in our free Wotja 19 Android app (via Amazon and Google Play).
Unfortunately there was no easy way to do this on iOS. We do hope to be able to look at that, but probably next year now.
We plan to re-look at our product range for V20, and it may well be at that point that there is a different way to get the V20 Wotja app for TV. However, for now, why not check out our Wotja apps for TV - they are low cost, easy to use and sound great!
That being done, we have since been working on 3 key areas: Ease of Use, Engine Extensions and App Stability.
Ease of Use
We want to make it as easy as possible to get great results 'out of the box'. That is easier said than done with an app as powerful and flexible as Wotja and where people want to do different things with it!
To that end, we have made numerous small UI improvements (these all add up) and also added a Flow segment and new templates.
The Flow Player mode, made possible because of the new V19 Randomization Schemes, has been getting great feedback. We realised we could further improve it by providing easier access to the Randomization Schemes. If you choose to make your own, perhaps by customising one of the included ones, then these will also show up in this screen.
Templates give you great starting points and are easy to modify.
'TTM1 Players 2' templates / 'TTM Default 2' Randomization Scheme - new templates to take advantage of the new Randomization Scheme capability
V19 Engine Extensions
The last couple of years we have been very busy consolidating all apps into one (Wotja). With V19 now released we are working to extend the capabilities of our V19 engines - and we hope and expect there is more to come, too.
The engine in Wotja 19 that underpins all sound generation.
NEW: 'Macro Oscillator 1' - a port of the popular open-source sound generator from Mutable Instruments; this is a very powerful Tone Generator unit addition to the ISE and significantly increases its sonic capabilities
NEW: Randomization in the ISE Network Editors (Sound, FX) - a dice button allows, from two new Randomization Preset settings (Random Presets - Synth Presets and FX Presets), a Sound or FX preset to be chosen at random (if those are toggled on)
The scripting engine that allows programmatic control over parameters.
We have released a number of bug fix updates since V19 release.
Wotja is a complex system, however, and of late we've been moving forward at quite a pace adding new features and capabilities. Having now added a good number of those we decided it was high time to focus solely on tracking-down and fixing crashes and bugs. We have been working on that over the last month, culminating in 19.5.0 released today. We are calling this a 'stability release' as you should find the app a lot more stable now (thankfully!).
We never like to pre-announce things, but we have some more things up our sleeve for V19 and we hope you like where we are taking Wotja. If you have any feedback or suggestions, please do get in touch via our Contact Form.
We have localisations for Chinese and Japanese, too, and those cater for what is needed in the Wotja Go and Wotja Box Feature Sets.
Wotja Use Case - Using Wotja as a Sleep Aid (updated)
I have been having a bit of trouble sleeping of late (I've had a lot on my mind frankly!). I thought that I might as well use Wotja on my iPhone and give its 'Flow Player' mode a spin and see if that helped me (UPDATE - check out this short Youtube video example).
I chose the new Flow Player mode as it is so simple to use (and is in all our Wotja apps). You just get it going and it creates a succession of automatically generated mixes based on the Randomization Scheme you choose. Once playing it continues doing its thing until either the Sleep Timer or Music Play Time Timeout kicks in.
What I found is that, for me at least, it really DOES seem to help ME get to sleep.
I think it's because what is generated is A) interesting enough to distract my mind, the music being either ambiences, drifting melodies or some combination (depending on Randomization Scheme); B) it sounds harmonious and relaxing and C) I know it's always fresh meaning I can either actively 'listen' to it or not, it's up to my mind what it wants to do. I find it a bit like 'listening' to waves on a beach in that there is a continous ebbing and flowing that is ever-changing; you know it is just there whether you tune in or zone out.
All I do is get Wotja playing on my iPhone, put it into Airplane mode so there it no WiFi/Cellular on, turn the phone volume right down and then put my phone under my pillow.
I tend to use it with the included 'Default' Randomization Scheme (RS) which generates melodies and ambiences. But, if you want just ambiences try the 'Ambient Mixes Box 1'. If you want melodies try 'TTM Piano Melodies' or 'TTM Bell Melodies' for pianos or bells respectively.
There is some degree of customization of RSs in all the apps (they are editable), but in the apps with Box and Pro Feature Sets you can also select the Templates and Sound/FX presets you want to be chosen for mix randomization. What is even cooler, is that in those apps you can edit and save your Randomization Schemes and even share them. That means that you, if you want, can share your 'recipes' for others to try out. I will do a video on that side of things in due course.
Sleep aids tend to work differently for different people so it is impossible to generalise as to effectiveness. That being so, I would be interested to hear the experience of others who might try this out. It would be good to know if it is effective for you, too.
What Lies Ahead
Now that we have got both the first release and first bug fix release out (19.0.7), we need to stand back, let the dust settle for a bit and then take stock of where we are. The last few months has been a whirlwind of activity and we need to take a bit of a breather!
We will of course be doing some more videos and encourage you to have a go yourselves!
We hope you like where we are taking Wotja. If you have any feedback or suggestions, please do get in touch via our Contact Form.