'Tis the season of giving, and today we're giving you three awesome updates! Each update is for a different product, so hopefully there's something for everyone.

Email Templates, Formatting & Signatures

Communicating with your team through email is one of Planning Center's core features. Many people have different saved emails they send over and over again, so they've come up with systems where they save those emails in another program and then copy and paste them to Planning Center. From the beginning one of our mantras has been to "keep everything in one place" so we decided enough with the copy and paste, we should let you store those emails right in Planning Center!

Email Templates If you have permission to email users, you can now create your own email templates, and if you are an administrator for your whole site, you can also create and edit global email templates. Email templates are separated into 4 different categories. General & Welcome are both sent from the main people page, and Scheduling & Signup Sheets are sent from within plans or the Matrix. Create General templates reminding everyone to blockout dates, create scheduling emails saying the plan isn't finalized yet, or edit the Welcome email with information specific to your volunteers. Check out this lesson from our manual on email templates.

While we were at it, we decided to let you apply custom formatting to your emails. If you send your users a lot of emails, they're likely to miss important ones, so by bolding text, changing colors or making text bigger, with a single glance it's clear that this email is different and less likely to go unnoticed. If you were used to adding HTML to your emails, you can still do that, you just have to switch to HTML view by clicking the Source button to the far right of the formatting toolbar first.

Email Formatting Because we let you email many people at once, we've always given you a way to add text placeholders that get replaced with content for each person. Now we've made those placeholders more powerful by using Liquid Markup and giving you more placeholders to use. You can still use the old placeholders, but by default, the new placeholders are enclosed in double curly braces. The common placeholders are {% raw %}{{to.firstname}} {{to.lastname}} {{to.name}}{% endraw %} & {% raw %}{{from.signature}}{% endraw %}. This new signature placeholder inserts your personal signature which can be edited from your profile page.

Music Stand for Android Tablets

I suspect for some, this will be the most exciting thing we've done all year, and for good reason! Our Music Stand iPad app has been such a great new way to read charts or lyrics during services and rehearsals, and our passionate Android users have been eagerly awaiting its availability on their devices. So we're very excited to say that Version 1 of Planning Center Music Stand for Android tablets is available now!

Music Stand for Android Version 1 has all the basic features that Version 1 of our iPad app had when it was first released (and actually a little bit more). Load any plan (either from the My Schedule tab, or the All Plans tab), choose which PDF to view for each song, rearrange the page order of any PDF, and tap any item with a PDF file to flip over to PDF view. From PDF view, swipe with your finger or even use a wireless Bluetooth foot pedal to advance through your pages. Any plan you load is saved to your device for use even when you're offline.

Version 1 is by no means the final version of the app. Just like the iPad app, we plan to add more features over time. We know the most important feature is the ability to add annotations to your PDF files and we'll be working on that right away. If you can believe it, annotations weren't in the first version of our iPad app either. We decided rather than have you wait for a more full-featured app, we'd release it now so you can start taking advantage of it and add new features as we complete them. We want to give a big shout out to our new Android developer Erik Pedersen for getting this first version done so quickly! Get Music Stand for Android on Google Play here and find out more about Music Stand in general from http://planningcentermusicstand.com

Music Stand for iPad Metronome & Annotation Improvements

Metronome in Music Stand for iPad We've added a beautiful new Metronome to Music Stand for iPad. The Metronome takes advantage of the BPM (Tempo) and Meter (Time Signature) fields on Planning Center so you can save those settings for each song arrangement. After you've set the tempo and meter for each song and start the metronome, the metronome changes settings as you advance from song to song! Rotate the dial to choose your tempo, or use the tap pad (even while playing audio from the audio player) to have the tempo calculated for you. You can even choose from different sound themes or adjust the metronome volume and master volume independently.

We've also completely redone the way annotations are created to make them much faster. In older versions, each stroke you drew had to be saved to the server and then updated in the app which would cause annotations to flash after you added them. In this new version, we save all annotations together when you tap done. Annotating your PDFs should now be much more smooth! Get Music Stand for iPad here.

Merry Christmas!

We know this time of year is very busy, so this is the last big update you'll see from us this year. We'll still be working away on some great new updates, but we'll hold them until the new year when you actually have time to check them out. In the meantime, we want to say how thankful we are that we get to partner with so many wonderful churches to help increase your productivity and ease some of the complexities of running your ministries. We hope you have a joyous Christmas season and look forward to providing you with more great technology in 2013!