Friday, May 19, 2006

amaroK 1.4

amaroK 1.4 (aka Fast Forward) has been officially released by the amaroK team after three beta releases. This is (perhaps) the last version of amaroK before the next amaroK (2.0) that will be built with Qt4.x that should be shipped with KDE 4. I have asked Patrick Volkerding to provide this package in -current tree and i think he will ship this application as it is ready and tested in his machine.

Here are the changes that has been built on 1.4 :

Metadata support for WMA, MP4/AAC and RealMedia files

As owners of AAC, WMA and RealMedia files found out, tags in such files weren't supported in amaroK 1.3.x series and earlier. As a consequence, these types of files weren't added to the collection and there was no advanced features for them, such as collection search, album covers and statistics. Taglib has since been improved, and these files are now fully supported.

Scriptable lyrics support

One of the unique features of previous versions of amaroK was the possibility to automatically fetch lyrics for played song. Now amaroK pushes the limits even more, with its new scriptable lyrics support. Each lyrics source is handled by a script, so it's possible to fetch lyrics from practically any site. AmaroK is bundled with few of them, but everyone can create his own, or enhance exiting ones.

Enhanced media device system

Media device support has been thoroughly reworked. AmaroK now supports iRiver iFP as well as generic vfat USB devices, and features much improved iPod subsystem.

Improved Podcast Integration

Available podcast episodes are stored in the database. This makes podcasts first-class citizens in amaroK and enables contextual information for podcast episodes, including the podcast's logo and other episodes from this channel.

Improved collection scanner

One of the most annoying aspects of earlier versions of amaroK was its inclination to crash during a collection scan if a track's tags were damaged or otherwise unreadable. Now, the whole collection scanner has been moved into a separate process. If any problem occurs, amaroK skips the offending file(s) and lists them at the end of the process. The collection scanner can also be run outside amaroK, making it simple to set up a regular cron job to update your collection.

Gapless playback

amaroK now supports gapless playback in the xine engine. Requires xine-lib >= 1.1.1.

Statistics tool

One of the first changes that amaroK users will notice, is the lack of "Home" tab in Collection browser. The developers agreed that 4 tabs was too much for usability, so it has been dropped in favour of a new Statistics dialog (available under "Tools->Statistics").

Rip by Drag'n'Drop

Assuming you have a KDE installation with audiocd support, which should be shipped by any common Linux distribution, you can now drag'n'drop the audio files from Konqueror or the amaroK file browser to the Collection tab to get amaroK rip them right into your Collection folder.

"Score" and "Rating" separated

Track popularity has been separated into "Score" and "Rating". Score is calculated by amaroK, changes dynamically, and is represented by a progress bar, while Rating is user-defined, and shown as gold stars.

Collection organization

amaroK has always motivated users to keep their music tags clean, however, until now, had no way to organise the underlying filesystem structure. amaroK 1.4 introduces the elegant "Organize files" tool. Quickly create a tag-based directory structure (customizable with variables) so you can find your files easily, even when you're outside amaroK.

Redesigned track information dialog

The Track Information dialog has had a serious face-lift and is now more powerful and simpler to use than ever. A wide range of information about individual tracks is categorized into tabs for tag editing, album covers, statistics and a lyrics editor. The inclusion of a new flexible tag-from-filename guesser is sure to make life easier.

Switchable Wikipedia locale

Wikipedia's locale in amaroK is now configurable to allow results to be displayed in any language you like.

Drag'n'drop visuals

When you drag a track from one place to another its album cover shows under the cursor. Displays up to 4 covers when dragging multiple tracks, as well as how many tracks in total are selected.

New artwork

A new release of amaroK deserves fresh artworK, including a new splash screen, no-cover image and custom icons.

Easy Web browser changing

To make life a little easier for non-KDE users, setting the default Web browser that amaroK uses for external links does not require kdebase anymore. This setting can now be changed via the amaroK config dialog.

Enhanced Collection filter

Forgotten the name of that track you just added? You can use the new "Statistics" tool to check the "Newest items", or more simply, try the time-based filters on the collection sidebar. Click on the "Entire Collection" pull-down menu for a selection of time periods.

Related artists

"Related artists" is similar to "Suggested songs", however it is not limited to the user's collection. This new addition to the Context Browser shows a list of related artists, which, when clicked, displays that artist's summary page.

Removable browsers

If you don't have a media device, there's no point displaying the media device tab, and this, like all the other tabs, can now be hidden or shown at will. Just right-click on any sidebar tab and toggle the tabs on the context menu.

Configurable Context Browser

Have you ever felt that there is too much information in the Context Browser? Adjust the amount of information shown by right-clicking within the Context Browser and toggling the various sections on or off.

Collection dividers

Information on the collection tab can now be displayed a number of ways. Users may already be familiar with Flat View and Tree View, In Tree View you can toggle collection dividers on or off, depending on your preference.