The following Lines are from Lydia Pintscher, Community Manager from the Amarok Project:
We have been working for a long time on Amarok 2.0 and the whole team was relieved when we finally released it to show what we have been working on and to get feedback from a wider audience. It was a platform release and as such didn’t have all the features Amarok 1.4 had.
Just 5 months later we released Amarok 2.1 with a lot of improvements and added features based on the valuable feedback we got for the 2.0 release. This release included a reworked Context View (the middle part that shows all the context information for your current song), an improved playlist including searching and filtering, support for bookmarks and Amarok URLs as well as an overall improved look and feel and even better Last.fm support. For more details please read the release notes (http://amarok.kde.org/en/releases/2.1).
Now we wouldn’t be Amarokers if we’d stopped there. No, we worked day and night to bring back features our users still missed from 1.4 as well as experiment with some new and crazy features.
The three most wanted features to come back are probably audio CD support, support for an external MySQL database and playlist sorting. Audio CD support is now fully integrated into Amarok’s collection browser. This means a CD will show up as a collection in your collection browser and its songs can be searched there and dragged to the playlist to play them. You can also copy the songs to your local collection (meaning ripping) right from the collection browser so you can finally store away your precious CDs in a safe place unreachable by CD-eating kittens and kids.
Support for an external MySQL database has been added again for our power users. Everyone else should be just fine with the embedded database used by default.
Multilevel playlist sorting is the other much requested feature that is being worked on for 2.2. The GUI for it is still rather rough but the groundwork is mostly done. Once this is done it will be easy to add shuffling for the playlist as well.
Amarok 1.4 and also 2 so far have used vertical tabs to switch between the available browsers (collection, internet, playlists, files). While this was not ideal from a usability and internationalization point of view we didn’t have a convincing alternative until now. This release cycle is the time to finally experiment with better alternatives and we came up with a breadcrumb navigation system similar to what users are already familiar with from Dolphin, the KDE file manager. This way we got rid of the tabs, made the different parts of Amarok easier to understand by adding a short description for all of them and made it easier to navigate to where you want to go.
Something we have always been very careful about for various reasons is letting the user add, remove and move around parts of Amarok arbitrarily. Currently we are experimenting with lockable dock widgets. You can unlock the layout of Amarok in its settings dialog and then move around the playlist, Context View and browsers as you want and then lock the layout again. This has the advantage of preventing accidental moving of the dock widgets and does not bring the visual clutter and wasted space that dock widgets usually bring while giving you nearly full control of Amarok’s layout.
MTP devices and iPods have been supported since 2.0 but universal mass storage devices (the players with a simple file system on them that you can access with a file manager) unfortunately were harder to support. Amarok 2.2 will have generally improved media device handling including support for universal mass storage devices.
Among our goals for Amarok 2 is to make it easy to contribute and make your ideas reality. One way to do so is our Context View and its applets. (The other one is our scripting interface and service framework.) New applets are being developed to show exactly the things people want when listening to their music. Newest additions to Amarok 2.2 are a photo applet to show photos from flickr.com and a video applet showing videos for the current song from popular video sites like youtube.com. The existing Wikipedia applet has been extended to allow you to change the language and to view song and album pages as well. Furthermore, it is now possible to write scripted context applets! We support QtScript, as we do in other parts of Amarok, and you can choose to write both your applets and data engines completely in QtScript.
Biased playlists are now able to support custom biases. Currently available are Last.fm and echonest as a base for letting Amarok take care of choosing the next song for you based on your listening habbits.
Those are some of the changes lined up for Amarok 2.2. We can’t guarantee all of them will make it into 2.2 as they are still experimental but we’ll do our best to continue to make a kick-ass music player for you 🙂
Come and join us in rediscovering music. (http://amarok.kde.org/en/contribute) If you are compiling from trunk or using nightly packages of Amarok we are very interested in your feedback about those changes. (http://amarok.kde.org/contact)
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