Lydia Pintscher announced yesterday the release of the much-anticipated Amarok 2.2 music player for the K Desktop Environment. Dubbed "Sunjammer," this version has a completely cleaned-up user interface, Playlist manager enhancements and fixes, a better Context View layout, faster music folder scanning and improved import capabilities, and even Dynamic Playlists that can better predict the music that you would want to hear.
"Many weeks have passed since our last version, and so many changes and improvements have found their way into version 2.2. Over all, the team is quite proud of all the improvements and was lucky to be able to plan and coordinate those in two developer sprints, one in Berlin and one during the Gran Canaria Desktop Summit, made possible by your support for Amarok and KDE. To put this into perspective: In the last three and a half months we closed 654 bugs, made close to 2200 commits to the code, of which more than a hundred were made in the first 24 hours after the release of version 2.1.1. The code statistics show that we changed a total of 1935 files, wrote 101693 new lines, and removed 73774 obsolete lines of code." - Lydia Pintscher says in the official release announcement.
The user interface has seen important improvements, with the Browser Pane moved on the left side of the window and with "bread crumbs"-styled navigation helpers on top. By using Qt4's widget functionality, almost every visual element of the window, including the Browser Pane, the Context View and the Playlist, is dockable and can be placed in any position or layout. They can even be stacked or, if you have no use for them, completely removed.
The Playlist is the core element of any music player, and for Amarok 2.2 it has been completely overhauled. Many new features have been added, like custom item sorting and shuffling, and the integrated layout editor allows you to configure the Playlist's aspect so that it only displays the information that you want to see. You can even do on-the-spot audio tag modifications or set song ratings. Furthermore, bookmark support has been added, allowing you to create shortcuts that point to a specific place in a podcast or audiobook, or even to your favorite part of a song. The added bookmark manager takes care of the grouping, editing, and deletion of these shortcuts.
The Context View has an improved layout too, with automatic applet resizing and custom placement options. A new photo applet has been added, which displays images of the now-playing artist, and a video-oriented one tries to find contextual clips. Wikipedia information retrieval has been extended, adding the possibility to pick a custom-language page, and support for differentiated artist, album or track information.
The Collection Browser and its underlying functions have been optimized, increasing the scanning speed and improving the import of older, Amarok 1.4, music databases. Also, an external MySQL server can now be used. Many people complained about the lack of audio CD support in the previous Amarok version, so 2.2 automatically displays the Collection Browser when such CDs are inserted, allowing you to directly listen to the music or copy it to your computer. The same behavior is encountered when connecting digital media players and other devices that use the generic USB storage protocol.
Last but not least, the Dynamic Playlists function in Amarok 2.2 is now smarter, being able to generate song suggestions by basing itself on your listening habits and on information collected from the Last.fm and Echonest online services.
Development-wise, the makers of Amarok want to focus on improving the 2.2 series rather than adding major new features to it. In light of this decision, they plan to release a new version of Amarok approximately every six weeks, delivering bug fixes and a limited amount of new features.
Download Amarok 2.2 right now from Softpedia.