[ Saturday, 24 May 2008, Bastion ]
Amarok multimedia player is one of the best programs of its kind not only for Linux but for any operating system nowadays. It has been created as a KDE component. Most people hoped to have Amarok 2.0 included in KDE 4.0, which hasn’t happened. It’s hard to predict if it finds its way into KDE 4.1 stable, but it’s still worth taking a look at the current progress of this great multimedia player
The main development goal for 1.x branch was to support a few audio engines. Due to this requirement, Amarok had to ship with separate components for xine and gstreamer engines. This solution had obvious flaws, since any small API change in any of those engines required a change in Amarok’s code. The fix for all those turned up to be Phonon, the new KDE 4 audio framework. Thanks to Phonon, Amarok 2 does not have to worry about engines support anymore, which means more time for its developers to work on actual features. Another positive side-effect is that Amarok 2 will be able to serve not only music and audio streams but also video. You should not however expect advanced features like DVD support or subtitles, but rather a very basic implementation for those who don’t want to launch a separate app just to see a video clip of their favorite band.
Amarok 2 like most of the KDE 4 apps uses vector graphics to render its interface. The use of SVG makes it easier to create themes. It’s actually pretty hard to follow the interface changes since there’s been a lot of them recently. Every time I launch a new version, Amarok looks different. For the time being however, Amarok looks like this:
- On the left side we can notice familiar tabs.
- In the middle the context view resides, which takes up the most space being a container for Plasma applets. It’s supposed to display information about the currently played track, such as its title, similar/recommended tracks, the lyrics or information about the artist.
- On the right side, you can see the playlist. One of its innovations is the option to shrink the tracks belonging to a single record. There is also a traditional alternative, for those who don’t like the new looks of the playlist view. It’s not however identical with the one we know from the 1.x series.
Fortunately you can alter the width of each column.
The menu bar has been reorganized to save space. Or something. I’m not sure if it’s the developer’s decision or it’s just because the work is in progress and not all the features are present.
From the known tools we have the cover manager and script manager. I haven’t noticed the audio equalizer, visualizer and the statistics, yet. I hope those features will eventually make it to the stable edition.
Except for audio streams, Amarok 2 offers a cool feature of integration with multiple Internet services. The Magnatune shop support has been there for a while. Now we have a few more options, like Jamendo, MP3Tunes, Shoutcast, OMPL and a very successful Last.fm. Enjoy, listen and buy DRM-free music now, straight from Amarok 2!
As the traditional last part of my reviews, here are a few screenshots of the configuration options: