We (padoca team) are long time Amarok users. We have seen amarok grow and become the best audio player along the 1.x series. We’ve seen the writing on the wall when 2.0 was out, the same promise and potential that embodied Kde 4.0 release.
A rewrite, a new beginning, not perfect at first but full of potential and vision. Sure, some features where sorely missed (like Kde 4.0) but it was needed. In order to be able to make the future envisioned by the amarok dev team, they had to go back… they had to send amarok back in time, and it showed.
Now amarok 2.1 is shaping up in svn, growing, showing his potencial. This is his tale of growth and learning. The future is coming!
So, what’s new within 2.1? A lot!
Lets start with the inner guts, shall we?
- Amarok 2.1 now suports replaygain (both track and album mode).
This is one of my favorites aditions. I used to abuse the replaygain script in the 1.x series, and now this great feature is suported natively by amarok 2.1, using a mix of taglib and other magics.
Till now amarok can READ replaygain tags for pretty much every audio format you can throw at him.
The devs talked a little of ways of adding write support (reading non tagged files and calculating the replaygain) like a plasmoid and such, but for now, amarokers can use the excelent (kde 3) soundKonverter for writing replaygain tags for their collections.
Hum? Master… What exactly is “replaygain”?
Well little grasshoper, have you ever listened to a track, some nice, slow, calm track like enya, only to get your hears blown out from the next prodigy track which had a much higher volume? If you CAN’T hear me, you probably did. So this is what replaygain does, he analyses the tracks and calculates an optimum decibel for each one, so when amarok reads the tracks he knows if he must change the volume to preserve your hearing capabilities.
- Editable Playlists.
This one brought some tears to my cold, harsh eyes. You see, i’m a playlist freak, i like to mix and match a lot of info, and the playlist in 2.0.x was, well, cumbersome at best, so when i’ve seen this beauty of modern technology in svn, i almost cryed.
Now playlists can be costumized using a powerful yet simple editor, and this solution is the best i’ve seen for any player. Don’t believe me? Watch the video and the screenshots.
The video shows what you can do with the editor.
This screenshot shows the editor changing the playlist in single track mode (you can also change the playlist in album mode).
- The current track plasmoid now shows current and favorite tracks.
- The Last.FM service was completely rewritten and now is the most powerful client for last.fm (even more then the oficial last.fm one).
It can now play all the kind of tracks displayed below without a payed account, even My Recomendations and My Radio Station.
See for yourself.
Also, the last.fm settings now have a way to check if your user and password is correct and even works behind the kde proxy settings.
- Plasmoid Interface revamp.
Plasmoids continue to reside in the central space BUT, now instead of being scatered in 4 separate virtual folders, they reside in a single column, and can be switched/choosed with a new taskbar in the lower central window. See the video and screenshot for a better understanding of what i’m talking about.
- Services Plasmoid.
This is a very cool idea/plasmoid that was added just a few days ago. When you choose a service, like jamendo, it will connect to the service site and match the info you are choosing with the one you have online, real cool. See screens and video.
This one shows the service already conected to the jamendo website and showing a track info.
This one shows the service in “waiting” mode.
- Amarok has a lot of love to give, and the new love feature for ALL tracks shows he means business. Now amarok loves all tracks, not only last.fm ones.
- Amarok urls.
Amarok can now load and generate “amarok urls” that allows any “view” to be bookmarked and later retrieved. A protocol handler is also installed that will launch amarok into the correct state, or make amarok show the correct view if already running if such a url is activated system wide.
They aren’t exactly rants, we sure liked everything so far, and overall the 2.1 svn already is our player of choice. But, as a long time amarok users we have some ideas/complaints we would like seeing adressed sooner then later. We aren’t going to rant (amarok 1.x had blah blah blah), that’s not the idea, we wan’t to contribute with tips and requests most power user have (and amarok devs are probably aware already, since they are power users too), but without telling them how to do they jobs. Like they’ve proven more then once (the playlist editor is one of many examples) , they know how to implement in the best way possible. So let’s us ask and be given ;)
- Separate views.
Plasmoids are great, playlists are great, colections are great, but we can only have that much screen real estate.
We think amarok should have separate view for the task the use is doing, somethins like:
- admin mode for editing/adding plasmoid, adding visualizations (when they come available) and such.
- play mode with a playlist, visualizations, equalizers, MediaFlow, mashTape and more.
- colection mode with all colection related stuff, like cover flow administration, picard integration with the tag editor maybe with a plasmoid implementation.
- More eye candy.
Return of the mood bar, return of visualizations, implementation of MediaFlow alike (we’ve seen something like that in the svn before 2.0 was released).
Eye candy is important and amarok devs are aware of it, but there’s a lot to do, and we’ll see a lot coming out in the next releases, we just wrote this so they don’t forget ;)
- More ways to interact with your music, like equalizers and other modern audio goodies (like karaoke).
- Insert you wish here… Amarok is one of the best known and exposed open source audio player, wishes are fine, just don’t forget they do it for free. be polite and if you can send patches.
- Separate views.
Amarok 2.1 still will see a LOT of development before the final version. The cheer amount of code thrown around is quite impressive, and for what we can gather so far, amarok 2.1 will probably be the best release ever.
We just wish some of the rants will be listened and adressed somewhere, somehow.
That’s ALL folks!