To be fair, I had a great day today. The truth is, Amarok 2 actually ruined an afternoon of mine earlier this week.
As a brief introduction, Amarok is (was?) a wonderful media player with plenty of potential. I know many who absolutely swore by Amarok 1.4 along with its limitations. After all, version 2 held promise that it would be able to do everything that 1.4 could do and more.
The main problem for me right now is with playlists. Creating and playing a playlist is not an obvious thing to do. It’s just not intuitive, but I get what the Amarok people are trying to accomplish. It’s actually quite simple to do once you figure it out, and in some way I’m blaming myself for overthinking things. I initially wanted to make a playlist of my whole collection, which I would just randomize and let play for hours on end.
When you click on the playlist tab, there are three sections: Dynamic Playlists, My Playlists, and Podcasts.
When you expand My Playlists, you have an Add Folder button, which you’d think would browse to a place on your machine. In fact, clicking on Add Folder just allows you to create a folder name for your playlists. You’ll see what it’s for in a second. There’s actually nothing wrong with that, except “Add Folder” is very misleading.
So, let’s create a playlist in Amarok 2.0:
1. Click on the Collection tab
2. Drag the tracks you want into the right-side column (I selected them all)
3. If you’re satisfied with your playlist, save it by clicking on the diskette icon on the bottom of the playlist column.
4. Behold, on the left side, in the Playlist tab under My Playlists, you can name this new playlist as you wish.
5. Optional: Click on Add Folder to make a folder and drag and drop your new playlist in there (I said there was a purpose for it)
Pretty easy, huh? Yep. But only after poking around for way too long. And, the fatal flaw was that I had Dynamic Playlists ON. Big mistake. Dynamic Playlists will modify your current playlist to include songs based on length, genre, artist, etc. It’s a nice feature, but it fails for one reason: when Dynamic Playlists is on, the On button is indented. When it’s not ON, it’s simply not indented but still says On. It really should say OFF, no?
I know, I know, I could have RTFM first but I’ll argue that no one wants to have to read a manual. You’ll hit Google before you read a manual, and if you’re reading this, then I rest my case 😉
There are a few things that I like about the new Amarok:
Widgets: The whole GUI can be overwhelming at first but it’s actually fully customizable with widgets. If you’re an iGoogle user, then you’re already familiar with widgets. Widgets are little applets that you can add, remove and move around. Amarok has a few that you can use, like Lyrics, Wikipedia, and more detailed Track Info. I think a Guitar Tab widget would be pretty sweet.
iPod Detection: Amarok 1.4 used to detect my 3rd gen iPod when it felt like it. So far, my device has been visible every time I launched Amarok. You can also drag and drop files to your device on the fly.
Well you know what? I atually feel a little better about Amarok now. There’s definitely some work to do, but I have faith that future releases will only get better. Version 2 is a complete re-working of 1.4, and as an open-source product, they tend to listen to their users and the fixes will come quickly. At this writing, Amarok 2.1 Beta 2 has been released.
But you know, who has time to wait for it to get better? If you want to try a great music player right NOW, check out my post on Songbird here.