Changes in iPeng 1.1 are marked “1.1″
The iPeng skin has a usage philosophy. What about the iPeng application? – Of course, the iPeng application also has a usage philosophy.
Is it the same? – It’s similar, but different in some cases.
iPeng has two general screens, the NowPlaying screen, that will bundle all Player, Music Source and Playback related functionality and the Browse screen that contains all Library and Streaming Media information and let’s you select your content.
You switch between the two screens with the “Coolio” and “Back” buttons, the former sending you to NowPlaying, the latter taking you back to the Browse screen.
iPeng will always start up on the NowPlaying screen so that you have immediate access to your player controls. It will also try to reconnect to the server and player you were using when you last left iPeng.
iPeng itself is currently only available in English. However, wherever possible, text in iPeng is drawn from SqueezeCenter using the current language settings. This results in most text in iPeng being displayed in your server’s selected language.
NowPlaying has it’s own section, but let’s give a general idea what it is about.
NowPlaying will bundle all features/functions that are grouped around playback as opposed to anything grouped around selection what to play, which is what the Browse menu does.
Playback means, it will show the currently playing track and playlist, it lets you rearrange that playlist, lets you change volume and other player parameters, like shuffle and repeat or lets you rate songs (for rating support on library items you will need the TrackStat plugin for SqueezeCenter).
The other main function of NowPlaying is to allow you to manage your players and select a music source. With iPeng you can manage several players in one place and change synchronization grouping.
Browse Menu Concepts
The Browse Menu is mainly a TabBar based Menu structure giving you easy access to frequently used pages and additional access to the full range of features.
It’s general looks are modeled after the iPod application on your iPhone but there are differences that stem from the differenct capabilities of SqueezeCenter and Squeezebox(TM) players.
Maybe the most important difference between iPod and iPeng is the Playback Mode. SqueezeCenter – unlike iPhone – always plays back from a Current Playlist, which can contain single tracks, albums or even streaming media items. The playback Mode will let you choose, how the items you select will be added to the Current Playlist. The active Playback Mode will be shown in the title bar by a Playback Mode icon.
You can toggle between these Playback Modes by clicking on the Playback Mode icon on the Title Bar.
Play: This is the playback mode that is active when you first install iPeng. In Play mode iPeng behaves like iPod: it clears the Current Playlist and replaces it with your current selection. It will also start to play that selection.
Play Other Tracks: Play Other Tracks is not a Playback Mode but a configuration option for Play Mode for selections with multiple tracks. If you are displaying the content of an Album or Playlist, per default, iPeng will try to behave like iTunes and play back the whole album (or playlist), starting with the item you selected. When you are displaying more than one album at a time (e.g. when selecting Artists->All Tracks), it will playback the album you select a track from.
If you don’t want that feature, but the SqueezeCenter default behavior of playing just a single track, you need to go to the Settings menu and select SC PlayOtherTracks. If this setting is enabled, instead of using it’s default behavior, iPeng will respect the Play Other Tracks in Album setting for your players, which can be set in the Player Settings section of SqueezeCenter’s settings.
Play Shuffled: This is also not a playback mode, but a “headline” feature on track lists. When you are in Play Mode, each Album or Playlist will have a first item of Play Shuffled. Selecting this will set the Shuffle setting of the player to Shuffle Tracks and start playback of the whole Album (or Playlist) in random order.
Add: If this mode is selected, iPeng will not clear your Current Playlist, but add the selected item to the end of the Current Playlist.
Play All Songs: Unlike in Play Mode, iPeng will not add a whole Album or Playlist to the Current Playlist when you select a single track but only that single track. If you want to add the whole Album or Playlist you can use the Play All Tracks headline item that replaces Play Shuffled in Add Mode.
Add Next: Add Next Mode behaves almost like Add Mode but will insert the selected items after the currently playing track instead of at the end of the playlist.
This is the Mixer or Context mode and it will show up for Albums, Genres and Artists. When you use touch-and-hold in this mode (or click an album cover), iPeng will present a context menu. This context menu is mainly for 3rd party plugins and it will contain functions to execute on plugins for the selected Album, Artist or Genre. Through this functionality you can for example generate a Dynamic Playlist or a MusicIP mix, depending on which plugins you use.
This is the TrackInfo mode. Whenever used, it will present a TrackInfo menu for the selected track. This is where SqueezeCenter provides track specific context menus and plugin commands, e.g. for Album Info, Biography, or Music Services (e.g. “on Rhapsody” or “on Last.fm”). You can also start here for further browsing, for example to get other albums by the artist for a track. TrackInfo is a very powerful tool to provide you all kind of information and functionality around a certain song. This is equivalent to what you get when you select a track in SqueezeCenter’s web interface.
Touch-And-Hold: If you select an item in iPeng that is descendable (that is, it has sub-items, like e.g. an Album has Tracks), iPeng will not play that item but descend into it and show the content. To give you a shortcut access to these items, a Touch-And-Hold gesture (touching the item and holding it for at least 1s) will issue the Playback Action on this item. Example: If you are in the Artist View and you Touch-And-Hold on an artist and you active Playback Mode is Add, then iPeng will add all tracks from that artist to the end of the playlist.
TrackInfo and Touch-And-Hold: In menus that show Track Listings (e.g the tracks for an album), iPeng 1.1 behaves differently from iPeng 1.0 when the Touch-And-Hold gesture is being used. In all Playback Modes but Context, iPeng will open a TrackInfo menu (context menu) when touch-and-hold is being used. In Context mode, a Play command will be used on touch-and-hold.
Cover Art: Clicking the cover art of an album is a shortcut for Touch-And-Hold in Album views.
Since version 1.1, iPeng supports the use of SqueezePlay menus for plugins or functionality not originally supported by iPeng.
What’s a SqueezePlay Menu?
Short: A SqueezePlay menu is a menu not provided by iPeng itself but by SqueezeCenter or a 3rd party plugin. This is a bit similar to the Internet Radio menus – these are also server provided – but it goes a bit further in that for a SqueezePlay menu iPeng will not only not know what the Content of the menu is but iPeng also doesn’t know what the Commands provided by the menu are.
Since SqueezePlay menus are not provided by iPeng, they may behave differently than other iPeng menus do.
Now what is this? SqueezePlay menus are originally designed for the Squeezebox™ Controller (SBC) and the SBC has several hardware buttons: Play, Add, Skip…. These buttons can have programmable functionality and this is what the commands are. iPeng supports four of these commands: Play, Play-Hold, Add and Add-Hold, these are the most widely used commands and for a typical browse menu they are equivalent to iPeng’s Play, Add, Add-Next and Context Playback Modes. You don’t know what Context is? We’ll tell you below.
However, this may not be true for all plugins, depending on what the plugin author thinks these buttons should do, they may have a different functionality. iPeng will show these Command states with a white background to tell you when you see a SqueezePlay menu and when it’s an iPeng menu.
There are further differences:
- SqueezePlay commands will only be used with the touch-and-hold gesture, a normal tap on an item may have a different meaning, usually it will open another menu, if not, the menu will typically tell you, what the command is, as in “Play song“.
- SqueezePlay commands may not work on all items of a menu, for example in CustomBrowse the “Play All Tracks” item will only react to Play and Add, not to a simple selection or Context.
You can toggle between these commands as you would toggle between iPeng’s native Playback Modes, yet iPeng will not keep the state for a new menu because since most SqueezePlay menus are not normal browse menus, you will often not want to execute the same command on the next menu level.
Confusing – maybe. But since iPeng can’t know what a menu does, it’s hard to optimize usability. We have made some proposals on how to enhance this functionality but until this is implemented in SqueezeCenter, we believe the current solution is the best compromise.
Additional Elements in SqueezePlay Menus
In addition to this, SqueezePlay menus can have a number of additional items not known from other iPeng menus, but these are typically easy to understand, so probably no surprises here:
- Entry Field
- Multi-State Choices
SqueezeNetwork generally is just a Music Source like your local server, but it behaves differently in tho ways:
- SqueezeNetwork does not have access to your local library, so it will only show online content like Internet Radio and Music Services. It does have a “Library” tab, but this refers to your account’s library with the music services listed under it.
- SqueezeNetwork does not support iPeng’s native menus. Because of this, all SqueezeNetwork menus are SqueezePlay menus and might look a bit different than the ones for your server, even when using the same service (Last.fm, Rhapsody,…). Also, they will show the behavior for “SqueezePlay” menus mentioned above although for these menus this will be identical to the behavior of the native menus in most cases, the notable exception being the selection of a playable item (not a playlist), which will issue a command as defined by the Menu Mode in iPeng’s native menus while it will issue the service-defined default command on SqueezeNetwork.